Frozen Desserts and Virginia Dishes–Just in Time for July 4th!

While hunting for either a) July 4th themed recipes or b) summery desserts for the holiday, I stumbled upon Frozen Desserts: A Little Book Containing Recipes for Ice Cream. Water Ices, Frozen Desserts Together with Sundry “Famous Old Virginia Dishes,” by Mrs. Clement Carrington McPhail. (Quite a long title for 16 pages!) It probably dates to the early part of the 20th century. What’s more intriguing, though, is the combination…

Front cover
Front cover

It’s hard not to look at this more like two 8 page publications by one author that were sort of stuck together. There isn’t a real connection between, say, Frozen Banana Bisque and Old Virginia Hoecake, but what cook doesn’t have a diverse knowledge of foods. I suppose Mrs. McPhail was just sharing what she knew.

So, whether your three day weekend needs some tutti frutti, pineapple ice, apple dumplings, or wild duck, take a little inspiration from Virginia past. (Though you may want to skip the frozen mayonnaise, whether you’re picnicking or not!)

Happy July 4th!

Betty Crocker & Salads!

It’s back to Betty Crocker and the bright red box for a short Friday afternoon post. There’s something that must draw me to it for these end-of-the-week features. Today’s post focuses on section “D,” aka “Salads for Every Occasion.” Frozen, fruity, meaty, fishy, jellied, dressed, dry…and often some wild combination. (But don’t worry, we’ve spared you the jellied chicken this time…)

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Whether you’re looking for dish to complement a weekend bbq or a way to use up leftovers, this series of cards can help…maybe?

Happy Friday and make something you enjoy this weekend!

A Smorgabord of Culinary Pamphlets

The core of our History of Food & Drink Collection is books, no doubt about it. But we’re working hard to add a variety of materials. In the last three years, we’ve acquired half a dozen handwritten recipe books from around the country, as well as personal compiled recipe collections, advertising and promotional materials, and papers of people working in food and nutrition. The increasing pile of pamphlets, whether advertisements, recipe booklets, “how-tos” for appliance, or a combination of all three, led to the creation of the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002, in early 2011. Since then, we’ve added nearly 300 pamphlets to the collection. This week’s feature post is a sampling of the latest batch of materials, which just arrived last week!

We have 16 new acquisitions from a recent purchase, with topics including flavor extracts and condiments, canned juice and fish,  advice for feeding children and infants, and kitchenware. There’s a range of technicolor and black and white images which make some of the finished dishes a little less appealing, but it’s not all bad. It’s hard to go wrong with 9 variations of macaroons! (Although the fruit cake made with tomato juice might give you pause…)

The “Food and Fun” from Star-Kist Tuna was a particularly neat discovery. In addition to a variety of tuna recipes and household hints (not necessarily tuna related hints, either!), it contains suggested party games for adults and children–optical illusions, word puzzles, and number games. We also have a pamphlet for a new (to us) gelatine company: Gumpert’s Gelatine Dessert! And there’s the “A Mother’s Manual” from Ralston Purina Company, which includes growth charts for children, meal plans, and nutrition information on a range of products. Yes, before they started in the pet food business in the late 1950s, they made breakfast cereals.

The full finding aid for this collection, with a list of companies and pamphlets, is available online through Virginia Heritage. The newest materials haven’t been added just yet, but they’re on their way. And there should be lots more to come! This collection contains an amazing variety of little gems and it’s bound to surprise you.

Cooking in Tidewater (It’s not like it sounds!)

Part of our goal with the History of Food & Drink Collection/Culinary History Collection is to document food history in Virginia. Among our nearly 3,500 publications are more than a few community, local, regional, and state cookbooks. Tidewater Virginia Cook Book: A Collection of Good, Reliable Recipes is an item we purchased for the collection in 2011. Published in 1891, it includes recipes contributed by women from all over the state for all kinds of foods, though the emphasis is on the Tidewater region of Virginia.

Although there is not necessarily a lot of visual appeal, at least not the recipe content, the book is certainly worth a glance or two! It pays special attention to fresh seafood, much more readily available than here in some other parts of the state (Blacksburg, I’m talking about you!): Pickled oysters, lobster, crabs, prawns, and fish.

One of the standouts here is definitely the abundance of terrapin and turtle recipes. On page 8, it’s “turtle soup;” on page 14, it’s two recipes for terrapin and one for “mock terrapin;” on page 7, it’s “mock-turtle soup;” and then, the topper, “Imitation mock turtle soup.” For those times when simply imitating a recipe isn’t enough, you can imitation the imitation! Mock turtle soup, by the way, comes from a calf’s head and ham base. Imitation mock turtle comes from black beans cooked with a meat joint, then mashed.

Not surprisingly, many of the included recipes are desserts: puddings, cakes (“pork cake,” anyone?), creams and custards, pies, and tarts. But there are also ices and ice creams, often a challenge with late 19th century technologies, and a “pepper candy” made with cayenne pepper. Pickles, preserves, jellies, and brandied fruits abound, and in a throw-back to our feature from two weeks ago, this recipe book includes “grape catsup.”

Whereas handwritten receipt books often shared cherished recipes within a family, the growing genre of community or other group cookbooks introduced these to a whole new audience. This particular volume came from the Reid Memorial Association of Norfolk, Virginia, though it contained recipes from ladies around the state. The idea of fundraising through cookbooks, especially by women, took off and our collection is full of similar publications dating from the late 19th century to the modern day. And, in addition to recipes, almost all of them have something else in common: advertising!

Questionable mock turtle/terrapin recipes aside, one of the other unique features of this volume is the ads in the back, several of which appear in the gallery above. General stores, food stores, florists, animal (sheep, beef, horses, mules–take your pick!) suppliers, insurance and real estate agents, appliance dealers (touting relatively new home technologies)…everyone got in on the action, even companies as far away as Oswego, NY! Although the baking powder wars had yet to start, we are greeted with “Government Tests” and “Royal Baking Powder” in large letters, suggesting a more reliable product than other companies. And, of course, targeting the women who could by buying there product over others.

See, as promised, nothing about cooking with laundry detergent (someone out there must have jumped to that conclusion first!), just some good old Virginia food history. We have a lot more to share with you, too. Be sure to keep following. Meanwhile, this archivist has weekend company coming and Mrs. Roper’s “Mock Terrapin” (made from calf’s liver and hard boiled eggs) might just be on the menu…