Demystifying the Art of Carving?

This week, I stumbled across a c.1900 and a 1945 pamphlet that having something in common: Carving. The first, How to Carve, is part of larger item that seems to have been bound together at one time. We only have the sections on carving, serving dinner, and brewing beer, interestingly enough. The second booklet, Edward Arnold Shows You How to Carve, published almost half a century latter, represents what I would argue is the precursor to the modern infomercial. Edward Arnold uses knives made by the company sponsoring the pamphlet to share his carving trick with us!

Although there’s a lack of color in this one, there is no lack of illustrations (I’ve spared you some of them, but if you’re interested in tongues, eyes, and some other parts, you can see the full version of this online, courtesy of the Internet Archive). I do think there’s a surprising amount of detail and diversity of meats in this example, even if it’s a bit straightforward. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a little flash and style, we can help there, too. Just combine one part film star and one part Flint Hollow Ground Cutlery!

There’s a bit less detail in this 20 page booklet, but it does have illustrations with carving in action. It also offers suggestions for the tools needed, depending on what you might be carving. It doesn’t cover the same variety (no tongue, pigeon, or hare here), but at least some of skills should translate to a different animal. I do love the advertisements. A publication like this puts us back in familiar territory on the blog: sponsorship by a company. In the past, we’ve seen some items that was were authored by celebrities in the culinary world, but I think this may be the first time we’ve looked at something by a celebrity in the Hollywood world. (Now I’m curious, so I’ll have to hit the stacks and see what other celebrity cookbooks we have!)

At any rate, if you’re staring at that roast (or maybe a grilled steak?), just wondering what to do, we might just be able to help. Carving directions aren’t limited to pamphlets on the topic. We have shelves of cookbooks with more advice!

Betty Crocker & Outdoor Entertaining

As Friday afternoon hit and I still didn’t have an idea for a post, I suddenly remember the bright red box shelved in our Special Collections Media section. Saved by “Betty Crocker” for neither the first nor last time! (I know it’s really a team of people, but admit it, we all have an image of her.) A couple of years back, I found the cheery box that is the Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library (our edition is from 1971). As we headed into the Memorial Day weekend and grilling season, I pulled out the section called “Outdoor Entertaining.” (We’re only taking on one section for today–the cheery red box of Betty Crocker recipes holds lots of surprises for future posts!)

Skewered or spitted foods not pictured include steak kabobs, lamb or veal skewers, and ham on a spit, in case you were curious. There are a number of seafood recipes (nothing stabbed or punctured—though there is a fish in a wire grilling frame) in this section, what appears to be a nice recipe for grilled apples, and lots more meat.

So, as we kick off grilling season and unofficial summer, take some inspiration. This weekend, break out the coals/gas/wood and skewer away (carefully, of course). It’s amazing what you can do with a little grill power.

 

A Treatise of All Sorts of Foods: Or, The 1745 Book with the 93-Word Title

Back in the early days of the blog, we profiled the oldest food-related publication in our collection, the short selection of a larger publication with the lengthy title, A pocket-companion, containing things necessary to be known by all that values their health and happiness : being a plain way of nature’s own prescribing, to cure most diseases in men, women and children, by kitchen-physick only. To which is added, an account how a man may live well and plentifully for two-pence a day / collected from The good housewife made a doctor, by Tho. Tryon  (1692). You can that view that post online here: “Advice from 1692.”

However, it seemed about time we go back and show off another early publication from the History of Food and Drink Collection. This week, we’re featuring a slightly more recent publication from 1745, with, if you can believe it, an even longer title: A treatise of all sorts of foods, both animal and vegetable: also of drinkables: giving an account how to chuse the best sort of all kinds; of the good and bad effects they produce; the principles they abound with; the time, age, and constitution they are adapted to. Wherin their nature and use is explain’d according to the sentiments of the most eminent physicians and naturalists, ancient and modern. Written originally in French, by the learned M.L. Lemery. Tr. by D. Hay. To which is added, an introduction treating of foods in general. (When you look at the title page below, you may notice there is actually a great deal MORE that someone wisely thought to leave out, when cataloging the item.)

As much as we’d love to have you visit us, the good news is, if you want to read more from this treatise (and it’s well worth it!), you can see it online. A pdf is available through VTech Works, the library’s institutional repository (http://hdl.handle.net/10919/10325). If you’re not used to the style and font of mid-18th century publications, don’t worry. Like handwriting, it won’t take long for you to understand those long “f”s and strange, archaic terms.

And whether you’re wondering what people thought about gooseberries, “sea-dragons,” milk, wild boar, or brandy in the 1740s, this is a great place to start. The book’s descriptions about melancholy Humours may be out of date, but the desire to give good advice about food is timeless.

Let’s Talk Turkey?

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so it seems like a good week to talk about turkey. And turkey products. And resource kits about turkey. (Doesn’t everyone have one?!?) Because, as this kit reminds us,

“Turkey is Convenient!”

A joint product of the National Turkey Federation and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, this 1979 resource kit is quite a piece. It was donated to Special Collections last year and we’ve been holding on to it for just such an occasion. The kit includes a filmstrip, cassette tape, teachers’ guide, student work sheets, and posters.

I’ve included some pages from the guide, which includes a frame-by-frame breakdown of the filmstrip and the accompanying audio, as well as some of the posters. In addition, the guide has suggested classroom activities, historical information, nutritional data, and information on food safety. While I scanned some of the more visual of the images (I’m strongly considering reproductions to decorate my office!), other posters include charts for food pricing and nutritional value.

The kit falls into an odd space of the History of Food and Drink Collection. It isn’t a modern publication, though it isn’t that old, either. There are plenty of new turkey products on the market and some from the kit may no longer be available, but the historical information, recipes, and education content still have value. Plus, it does supply some great images! There aren’t too many of these kits out there anymore, and most of them are in public schools or places like Tech, that have a strong agricultural focus, so we’re pleased to have it.

Although we can’t help you watch the filmstrip, you’re welcome to come check out the paper materials and we’ll even play the cassette for you, should you desire an audio tour of all things turkey. Plus, there are some great suggestions for those leftovers next week. “Bacon-like turkey strips,” anyone?

Celebrating the Sandwich, International Style!

As you may recall from last week, it’s National Sandwich Month. To wrap-up (pun intended) August, we have a wonderful pamphlet with nearly 100 pages of international sandwich delights.  Well, nearly 100 pages of international sandwiches, at least. This week, we present Frederic Girnau’s Sandwich Book of All Nations: Over 300 Ways of Making Delicious Sandwiches, Appetizers, and Canapes by Ruth Elizabeth Mills, published c.1945.

Amazing what you can do with a couple pieces of bread and just about anything you have lying around…Even if you don’t have a traditional filling. Just make a sandwich of bread and tartar sauce or pieces of fruit! In addition to the ones above, there is a whole page on cherry fillings, as well as other citrus fruits, dates, and prunes. If you’re seeking the more unique, there’s homemade peanut mayonnaise, tomato jelly, cream cheese and beet, or nasturtium sandwiches.

Our copy of Frederic Girnau’s Sandwich Book of All Nations: Over 300 Ways of Making Delicious Sandwiches, Appetizers, and Canapes is one of about 5 in public and academic library hands and is well worth a glance or two. The Frederic Girnau referenced in the title was actually the publisher and Mills wrote several books the company during the 1940s. She authored two books on preparing seafood and fish and game and waterfowl the “sportman’s way,” as well as pamphlets on cookies and international foods.

On a side note, if you asked me (archivist/blogger/foodie Kira, as usual!) in 2009, before I started working at Virginia Tech, before I encounter the History of Food & Drink Collection here, and before I spent 40% of my time thinking about food (back then it was only about 20%), the idea of a simple lettuce sandwich never occurred to me. Oh, how ignorant I was in those days! As regular readers may know, the lettuce sandwich has become a frequent guest on our blog, with a startling number of variations. This publication is no exception, with two recipes of its own…one of which starts with dipping the leaves in mayonnaise! (The other involves chopping leaves into strips with scissors, THEN applying the mayo.)

Lastly, it’s difficult to ignore the blatant and repetitive advertising going on in this publication. The bottom of every page reminds you to serve BEER with your sandwiches. It’s only fair to explain why this is the case, since it also gives me the chance to share the somewhat dated advertisement printed on the back. Without further ado, the front and back covers of our feature item:

Because nothing says “let’s picnic” more than a swell mustard-and-bread sandwich and an icy cold beer!

Until next week, when we give up bread and meat for some children’s adventures in the kitchen, keep making those sandwiches.