Frosted Sandwich, Part 3: Son of Frosted Sandwich

As I sat here contemplating a blog post for the week, I had a sudden realization: The blog turned two on September 14 and the day snuck right past me! So,


That being said, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with some festive, monochromatic (and occasionally polychromatic) party recipes…and the return of the frosted sandwich (It’s been a while, I know)!

Today’s images are from Good Luck Color Scheme Parties. Published in 1931, this 32 page pamphlet features creative recipes in a range of colors and flavors. It covers not only holidays, but also card and occasional parties, all while, of course, promoting John F. Jelke Company products like Good Luck Margarine and Evaporated Milk.

This plain cake is separated by layers of jam. Sad marshmallow clown aside, we needed a (belated) birthday cake image to celebrate the blog.
This plain cake is separated by layers of tasty jam. Sad marshmallow clown aside, we needed a (belated) birthday cake image to celebrate the blog.

So, here’s looking forward to another year of posts and LOTS more learning about the History of Food and Drink Collection! It may just be your year to pay us a visit, too!

From Root to Table: Raw Foods in the Early 20th Century

This week, we’re featuring Uncooked Foods & How to Use Them: A Treatise on How to Get the Highest Form of Animal Energy from Food: With Recipes for Preparation, Healthful Combinations and Menus by Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Christian. This particular volume is a recent addition to Special Collections. Published in 1904, it’s actually the 5th edition, so this husband and wife team seemed to be on a roll…

Eugene Christian was the more prolific of the pair, authoring a variety of books on food, diet, nutrition, and health in general between 1900-1930. His wife co-authored a several books with him, however. Uncooked Foods & How to Use Them features a little bit of everything: directions on how and what to eat, how to prepare foods (very little!), sample recipes, sample meal plans, and some about why the idea of eating raw foods was important to the authors. For Special Collections, this piece is a great new addition. While we have a number of volumes on vegetarianism in the 19th and 20th centuries, this is the first book we have on raw foods and the raw foods movement. (Now, we’ll be on the lookout for more!)

You’ll notice that there are a few cooked/prepared foods in the book, though they seem to be carefully chosen and few and far between. The section on soup, for example, is prefaced by the statement that: “We give here a few recipes for soups only because the soup habit is so firmly fixed in the mind of the housewife and the epicure that they can hardly conceive of a decent dinner without them. All soups may be warmed sufficiently to serve hot without cooking.” All but one of the few meat or fish dishes are smoked or dried. The others are all raw, including a beef tartare recipe.

So whether you’re hankering for egg-nog with fruit juice, raw carrot and turnips with (or without) salad dressing, or prune pie, this book could be for you. You’ll just have to come by and see. Until then, happy eating!

On Catering, Quality, Chickens, Eggs, and More!

This week’s post may not answer the question of which came first, but it does have a great day to say about quality chickens, eggs, and other poultry–not to mention meats, salads, and pastries.

The title of this publication, in full, is John Hill’s Book: The Culinary Art as Applied to Catering, Including an Abridged List of Cooked Articles Available for Home Service (c.1929). If that isn’t quite clear, don’t worry. Even once you unravel it, the contents aren’t quite what you might think. The title suggests is might be a catering menu–which it is. But that’s not all it is. It’s also a short treatise on quality ingredients, an advertisement for catering services, and, one might argue, a collection of food management/storage hints.

Most of right hand pages include some examples of items the caterer can provide. We see a wide range of foods, from cakes and pastry to sandwiches and salads. However, we are informed that this is only a small fraction of what the company can provide, though listing the full range “would be burdensome for [the company] and confusing to you, were we to list them all.” One wonders how a catering menu might prove confusing for potential clients–perhaps it’s because, as the publication later states, they have no “‘regular’ or stereotyped menus.” At the very least, it’s clear John Hill prefers to meet in person. The photographs of the business certainly suggest a desire to show off the fine supplies and capabilities it can provide.

Another portion of the text is taken up by a series of mini-essays on quality ingredients. On the one hand, they are a chance to talk about the high quality of foods used by the company in their catering efforts: “We will not talk bout eggs in the abstract, but of John Hill eggs, about which there is nothing abstract” and “There is no chicken quite like ours.” The publication also touches in kitchen processes and technology, spending two pages on cold storage and the disservice it does.

But freezing does more than ruin the flavor of meat and poultry–it is conceivably responsible for the prevalence of dyspepsia and kindred ills among Americans–so, if you want to avoid dyspepsia, avoid frozen foods.

(On a side note, according to the 1915 Jell-O and the Kewpies, you may also want to avoid pie: “Twenty years ago everybody ate pie and nearly everybody had dyspepsia. Jell-O had not been heard of. Now there is scarcely a housewife in America who does not make and serve Jell-O desserts, and stomach-ache is not so common as it used to be.”)

Perhaps most striking about this publication, though, is the quality of the item itself. It may not be obvious from the scans above, but this is by no means ephemeral. It has a nice paper cover, with a paper dust jacket, and large photos. It appears to have been printed on handmade paper that was folded, and the edges were not cut smooth. Was it merely a way to attract a certain caliber of customer? Was it intended to be something more than just an advertisement? Were the tidbits on quality meant to be taken as hints for the everyday household? Unfortunately, we don’t have answers to those questions, but John Hill’s Book, with its mix of advertising, lecturing, and menus makes for a unique addition to the History of Food & Drink Collection.

Oh, and just remember, “Speed is as incongruous in good cooking as it in in a good golfer’s game of golf.” Or if you prefer fashion metaphors to sports, menus should be “just as special as the dresses of the most fashionable couturiere.” Whether you’re cooking, eating, or both, the point is, take a little time and enjoy something special this week.

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.

So Many Sandwiches, So Few Days Left in National Sandwich Month…

August is National Sandwich Month! (It’s best not to ask how I know things like this…) My plan for this week was to feature several different items. I made it about 10 pages into Seven Hundred Sandwiches when I realized that wouldn’t work. This book needed its own space. Thankfully, there are two Wednesdays left this month. That should be just enough this book and a little something special next week, too.

Fond as I am of a good peanut butter sandwich or tuna melt, Florence Cowles’ 1932 Seven Hundred Sandwiches is an eye-opener. There are recipes for standards, the tame, and the everyday. But then there’s the “let’s-make-whatever-is-in-the-fridge-into-a-spread,” the “well-I’ve-never-thought-to-put-that-together-before,” and what I will affectionately label the “huh? wha–?”

No matter what kind of sandwich you already like, you should be able to find something in this book…though you may not recognize it at first. Throughout her volume, Cowles makes up names for combinations of fillings. And it’s definitely creative.

But first, the book opens with a set of general directions, in the event you’re new to this sandwich game: hints about which breads to use and how to cut; how to cream butter for spreading (it should ALWAYS be creamed before adding to bread); mayonnaise v. salad dressing; preparing a work space; preparing fillings; and storage.

Like fish? How about a “sardinoil,” a “pimentuna,” or a “shrimpegg*?” If you prefer  dairy, there’s the “creamango*”, the “tochebee,” or the “chilicot.” For nut lovers, there’s the “peanutpine,” the “gindanutra,” and the “prunuchee.” (I promise, I’m not making these up!) In most cases, the name is clue to the ingredients, as is their placement in a certain category. But a few just leave you puzzled without the recipe. Take a little time to ponder. There are a few sneak peeks at the bottom of the post, but if you have questions, just ask in the comments!

As an aside, the fact that this book contains TWO lettuce sandwich recipes did not escape my notice. Two that are actually different from the three in Mary Frazer’s 1903 Kentucky Receipt Book that continue to resurface! (You can see the original post here.) Lettuce sandwiches are nearly as common as frosted ones in our blog!

Florence Cowles spares us the frosted sandwich in her book, though she gives us a short list of “cake sandwiches.” You could create a four (or more!) course meal of sandwiches with a little innovation: Russian sandwich canapes, Tomato soup sandwich soup course*, Lamb and Mint on wheat for dinner, and cake with watermelon and ice cream filling for dessert. And if you don’t like lamb, there are plenty of hearty beef, mutton, bacon, sausage, seafood, egg, cheese, nut, and especially ham, fillings instead.

On a closing note, here’s a piece of advice from Florence Cowles: “While the breads and fillings are varied, there is only one kind of knife suited to sandwich making–a sharp one.”


*A few recipes that need an explanation:

Shrimpegg  Sandwich: A mix of cooked, canned shrimp, chopped walnuts, chopped hard-boiled eggs, and mayonnaise.

Creamango Sandwich: A mix of cream cheese, chopped mango (peppers, not the fruit), onion juice, salt and pepper, spread on thin, butter-spread slices.

Tomato Soup Sandwich: Rye spread with butter and undiluted tomato soup between lettuce leaves.

Sandwiches, Part 2: Return of Frosted Sandwich

Sometimes there is a food so odd, so unique, and oft-times unsettling, it creeps back up when you least expect it. And just to keep you on your toes, it changes ever so slightly. Lately, it seems to be the “frosted sandwich” (see its first appearance here). To be fair, 500 Tasty Sandwiches, edited by the director of the Culinary Arts Institute during the 1940s and 1950s, Ruth Berolzheimer, includes so much more than the merely frosted. This 1941 gem contains sandwiches that were frosted, toasted, grilled, baked, fried, filled, rolled, cut, shaped, and layered in some very creative ways.

The book also contains recipes for fancy breads, fillings, and spreads, all with an emphasis on both economy and entertaining: “Dainty colorful sandwiches such as these guarantee the success of any tea or bridge party” (26). Of course, this includes suggestions like “egg and catchup,” “peanut-butter and pickle,” and “salmon and nut.” Then there are the complex patterns and shapes to be admired: the checkerboard, the gangplank, and the treasure chest, the last of which is essentially a hollowed bread loaf refilled with sandwiches made from the center slices, then covered with the top. While modern taste buds may not like the choice of fillings, the loaf or treasure chest style does lend itself to a certain portability for picnics, travel, and feeding crowds.

It’s when we get to frosting these sandwiches (with cream cheese, rather than the whipped mayonnaise we’ve seen previously) that things start to go wrong. Besides whole frosted loaves, 500 Tasty Sandwiches brings us something new: individual sized servings. Frosted to look like cakes rounds. Or rectangles.

 And the shapes don’t end there! This cookbook provides with plenty of interesting examples of structural ingenuity, as the pyramid and skyscraper recipes above indicate. It’s the ultimate opportunity to play with your food and to get creative. There are endless combinations of fillings and layers, begging to be tried…you just may not want to eat it when you’re finished…

On a final note, this publication is part of a larger set by Consolidated Book Publishers, Inc., so we shouldn’t be entirely surprised by its contents. The series includes such Special Collections favorites (a few of which have appeared on our blog before!) as:

  • 500 Delicious Salads, 1940
  • 300 Ways to Serve Eggs from Appetizers to Zabaglione, 1940
  • The Wartime Cook Book: 500 Recipes, Victory Substitutes and Economical Suggestions for Wartime Needs, 1942 (an interesting comparison to this publication, which was likely published just before the war began–availability changed quickly!)
  • 250 Ways to Serve Fresh Vegetables, 1950
  • 300 Healthful Dairy Dishes, 1952

…and the list goes on. Don’t believe me? Visit the library’s catalog, Addison, and search “Berolzheimer, Ruth” as author. You’ll be amazed (and amused) to see a range of titles and editions! Plus, you’ll likely see more of them here–we have far too much food history to share!

Cooking for the Sick Isn’t All Tea and Toast

Many of the cookbooks in the collection, especially those from the 19th century, include a section on cooking and preparing food for the sick. Others feature instruction on feeding children and infants. This week’s feature, Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent, has a little of everything. A combination textbook for cooking school students and cookbook, it was written by well-known teacher/author Fannie Merritt Farmer. The book went through multiple editions between 1904 and the early 1920s (ours is from 1911), and it has been reprinted occasionally since then.

The book contains information on nutrition and food values, feeding children and infants, and a lengthy list of recipes. While many cookbooks include simple recipes for the sick (teas, gruels, and toast),  Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent is much more elaborate, as you can see from some of the images above. Chapters have detailed instructions on preparing luncheon and dinner trays appropriately so they look neat and aren’t overcrowded. Recipes range from teas, soups, puddings/gelatins (it was too hard to resist the image of a carved orange basket!) and toast to chops, oysters, and custard souffles. The latter is not quite the simple fare you might expect.

However, if you look at Farmer’s list of things to consider when feeding the sick, the first two are appealing to sight and taste. “Never consult a patient as to his menu, nor enter into a conversation relating to his diet, within his hearing,” she advises, but “…the best means of stimulating the appetite is to have good food, well cooked, and attractively served.” (Admittedly taken to some strange extremes–see “Flowering Ice-Cream” above.) Chapters on specific types of food include notes on nutritive value, recommendations on the best ways to serve, and a variety of recipes.Contradictions aside (“Cream and Mayonnaise dressings, although highly nutritious, are so complex as to render them difficult of digestion” followed by recipes for both),  the fact that the book addresses different types and phases of illness, and, to some extent, transitioning back to a regular diet, is a change from many other publications from the time period. And it clearly had an audience for nearly 20 years!

And for those of you wondering what kind of stance the book takes on alcohol, there are cases of illness that justify its consumption, as “[t]he use of alcoholic beverages in some diseases seems almost imperative.” Before going on talk about when and why to drink a little brandy or  a lot of whiskey, however, Farmer includes the following statement: “Lives, without doubt, have been saved by the use of champagne.” There is a very brief explanation about champagne putting those with fevers into beneficial sleep, but either way, it might be my new favorite quotation.

And, on a vaguely related note, since it’s graduation weekend here at Virginia Tech, a little champagne might just be in order. Congrats and good luck, Class of 2012! Go out into the world…and find something good to eat. That’s my advice.

Summer Dreamin’ (Of Marshmallow Sandwiches and Glorified Perfection Salad)

It may not be summer (or even spring!) yet, but we had this item on display for our Open House event here at Special Collections last night. Plus, we have more warm weather on the way here in Blacksburg. Terrifying cover color scheme aside (against the multi-tonal greens, that white bread sandwich looks a little too pasty), Salads, Sandwiches, and Summer Drinks is an interesting blend of recipes. Ranging from the economical to the lavish and the simple to the strange, this publication has it all.

We’ve encountered some strange sandwiches here and here before and this won’t be the last of it. Salads, Sandwiches, and Summer Drinks contains such chapter headings as “Distinguished Sandwich Service,” “Nutritious Sandwiches,” “Party and Occasional Sandwiches,” “Refreshing Sandwiches,” and “Toasted Sandwiches.” Plus, there is an entire category of “Sweet Sandwiches” with some recipes that certainly catch your attention: chopped, softened marshmallows with butter and honey; cream cheese on chocolate wafers; or hard-boiled egg and butter (mixed with powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange rind). If you’re looking for something healthier, the “Nutritious Sandwiches” section includes combinations like creamed butter, peanut butter and chopped stuffed olives; crushed baked beans mixed with Russian dressing; or cottage cheese and chopped prunes with mayonnaise. And while we may have missed the chance to make Lincoln Birthday sandwiches this year, there are plenty of suggestions for other holiday snacks (see images above).

As for the salads, they are not about to be upstaged by mere bread and filling. Dressing recipes range from the classic boiled to fruited mayonnaise to French with all kinds of additions. The salad chapters include “Garnishing the Salad,” “Fruit Salads” (with subsection on frozen salads), “Main Dish Salads,” “Molded Salads” (as if we could forget them!), “Party or Occasion Salads,” and “Vegetarian Salads.” In addition to prescribed recipes, the book also contains tables for both suggested fruit and vegetable combinations. Lobster salad with caviar and party salads aside, most of the recipes are for everyday sort of eating and of surprising variety. As for holidays, you still have time to whip up a little something special for St. Patrick’s Day: green peppers, stuffed with cream cheese (made green by adding some sort of herbs or olives), sliced onto a bed of lettuce, and served with mayonnaise (also colored green with either spinach juice or parsley).

It was difficult not to share this great little publication in its entirely, since it does have a wonderful variety of classic and not-so-classic dishes. This is one of many specialized pamphlets by Liberty Weekly, as a number of others are referenced within this one, although this is the only one we currently have at Special Collections. They were all intended to make life a little easier and a little fancier. So, on that note, we’ll leave this post with a few helpful hints:

  • “Dainty summer flowers…frozen in the [ice] cubes, are attractive.”
  • “Have greens crisp and well dried. Otherwise dressing slides off, resulting in considerable loss in piquancy.”
  • and most importantly, “Never serve sandwiches ungarnished except at a picnic.”

Frosted Sandwiches?

This week, loyal foodies, it’s time to look a familiar standby, inspired by the recent post on lettuce. A very important standby. No, not candy corn. This is even bigger (than a bread box)! Sandwiches. Frosted, shaped, and/or layered sandwiches.

Our collection of culinary materials here at Special Collections helps to document the history of recipes and of managing a household—both of which have close ties to entertaining. And entertaining is a pervasive theme of the impending holiday season. Here’s an opportunity to re-visit the history of cheese and bread (a relationship thousands of years old) and think about how it can influence us today.

Three of the images above come from “Cheese and Ways to Serve It,” produced by Kraft (then Kraft-Phenix Cheese Corporation) in 1931. This small publication includes recipes and images on pages the size of recipe cards, perforated for easily removal and addition to your home recipe collection. The fourth comes from an undated advertisement for Spam. A few of us here at Special Collections (okay, fine, just me, your loyal archivist/blogger Kira) had to read the recipe to realize this wasn’t, in fact, a coconut cake filled with Spam and sprinkled with pineapple—or possibly a Baked Alaska gone wrong.

So, as you think about what to serve family and friends, consider coming by Special Collections for a visit. We have recipes of all kinds for your parties and holiday feasts, including those you WANT to eat!

And be sure to ponder the misleading appearance of the cake-like frosted sandwich. Don’t expect it to bring everyone to the table…though it will certainly inspire conversation. Then again, it could be just the thing to encourage those lingering guests to find the door. 😉  Happy hosting and happy feasting!

Lettuce Sandwich–3 Ways?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Mary Harris Frazer’s 1903 Kentucky Receipt Book contains not one, but THREE different recipes for lettuce sandwiches. The basic idea seems simple enough that one might not even need a single set of written directions, but this is clearly not the case. So, in case you’re entertaining this weekend—tailgaters, this probably won’t make you the hit of the party, but feel free to try—check out the recipes below…and enjoy? 

Lettuce Sandwich (aka “The Stack”)

Select tender crisp lettuce, wash and wipe dry. When ready to serve, have bread cut in thin slices, butter and place on lettuce leaf, spread lightly with Mayonnaise and add another slice of bread, press together and continue to add bread until a sufficient quantity has been prepared.

Lettuce Sandwich (aka “The BLT minus the T”)

Cut thin slices of bread, and spread with butter. Broil slices of breakfast bacon until crisp. Place 1 leaf of lettuce on bread, cover with a cooked mustard dressing, then add 1 slice of breakfast bacon and add another slice of bread, and press closely together. 

Lettuce Sandwich (aka “The Basic”)

Cut bread with round cutter, place on crisp lettuce and cover with mayonnaise dressing.

And if none of these appeal to you, how do YOU make a lettuce sandwich?