A century ago, the Great War was causing massive casualties and destruction in France. Allied Cookery, the product of an international collaboration, was written as a fundraiser. The proceeds were distributed by Le Secours National, the French organization created immediately after war was declared in 1914. The brainchild of banker and arts patron Albert Kahn, Le Secours raised funds to provide food and warm clothing to French soldiers and their families and to civilians in the country’s devastated regions. The cookbook’s introduction explains that any money raised will go to those areas that had been invaded by the Germans and subsequently retaken by the Allied forces. The impact of the damage was all the more horrific because these were France’s most fertile agricultural regions. With the buildings destroyed and the farm implements, livestock, and food stores seized, the surviving farmers could not produce food. With armies to supply, shortages were a real danger. Allied propaganda posters encouraged citizens to grow vegetable gardens and to restrict their consumption of wheat, meat, sugar, fats, and fuel. (French propaganda posters included the wine and tobacco products so badly needed by the military!) Fittingly, the recipes in this cookbook emphasize vegetables, beans, and soups. The section on meats includes many dishes using the less choice bits: tripe, kidneys, sheep’s head and the like.
In addition to the countries listed in the title, Allied Cookery includes recipes from Commonwealth countries and Eastern Europe. Hence, there is a whole section on curries and dishes such as Pilau (pilaf) and Serbian Cake. I decided to try the Soldiers’ Soup (Soupe à la Battaille); it seemed altogether fitting when highlighting a World War I cookbook and also potentially tasty.
The ingredients were, for the most part, easily obtained at my usual supermarket. I was unable to find chervil for the garnish, and so simply left it out. The note at the bottom suggests that “a bone of ham or the remains of bacon improve this soup immensely.” I therefore purchased a bone of ham from our local HoneyBaked Ham. The instructions were extremely simple to follow and it is easy to imagine an army cook preparing the soup over an open fire using vegetables that had been requisitioned from nearby farms.
There was a great deal of washing, peeling, and chopping and I needed to use my largest cooking pot. After everything was added, I left the soup to simmer, with only occasional stirring, for two hours. I pulled out the ham bone and skimmed the fat. The recipe says that the mixture should be quite smooth at that point, and if it is not, the cook should “beat it well with a whisk.” Mine was not smooth, so I cheated a bit and used my 21st century immersion blender. The result was a beautiful jade green silky concoction.
The flavor was absolutely delightful—a fresh vegetable taste with a little smoky depth from the ham and a creaminess from the potatoes. I shredded the ham and served it on the side, but the soup was delicious without it. My husband ate three full bowls. I would rate this soup a five out of five. Without the ham, it would be a perfect vegan dish. It makes so much that I refrigerated enough for another two or three meals and froze several large containers for later consumption. Civilians were called upon to sacrifice for the war effort, but preparing and eating this soup was no sacrifice whatsoever!
Every Friday between now and Thanksgiving, we’ll be sharing a recipe from our collections that one of our staff members has found, prepared, and tasted. We’re excited to bring these recipes out of their archival boxes and into our kitchens (metaphorically, of course!), and we hope you’ll find some historical inspiration for your own Thanksgiving.
Post contributed by Elizabeth Dunn, Research Services Librarian.
Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Room 217, Perkins Library
Contact: Rachel Ingold, firstname.lastname@example.org or (919)684-8549
Please join us on Wednesday, October 29 at 5:30 p.m. for our next Trent History of Medicine lecture. Karen Kruse Thomas, Ph.D., will present An Unlikely Alliance: Medical Civil Rights Reformers and Southern Senators in the Age of Deluxe Jim Crow. A reception will follow the talk.
How could Jim Crow segregation ever be described as “deluxe”? Thurgood Marshall, lead counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, used the term “deluxe Jim Crow” to refer to the efforts of southern state and local governments to shore up segregation by spending money to improve separate black facilities and programs. This strategy was applied to the fullest extent in health care, with federal assistance from the Hill-Burton hospital construction program and other health initiatives. Although the majority of civil rights history scholarship has focused on issues that captured extensive media attention such as school desegregation, public accommodations, and voting rights, the story in health care was largely overlooked, at the time and since. Yet the unlikely alliance during the mid-twentieth century between medical civil rights activists, southern policymakers, and New Deal liberals has much to teach us about the possibilities and limits of political compromise, especially in the context of our own era of Congressional deadlock.
Karen Kruse Thomas has served as Historian of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health since 2012. Dr. Thomas earned her doctorate in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has taught U.S. history at the universities of North Carolina, Minnesota, and Florida. Her publications in the history of medicine and public health have received national awards from the American Association for the History of Medicine and the Southern Historical Association. She’s also received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. In 2011, the University of Georgia Press published her first book, Deluxe Jim Crow: Civil Rights and American Health Policy, 1935-1954.
The event is sponsored by the History of Medicine Collections and the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.
Tuesday, October 21, 7:30pm
The Carrack Modern Art
111 W Parrish St., Durham
Steve Roden—a renowned sound artist, painter, writer, and collector of photographs and 78s—is in residence at Duke this month. He’s giving a talk and visiting classes, but this is the only performance he’s giving of his lowercase style of music in which quiet, usually unheard, sounds are amplified to form complex and rich soundscapes.
Roden’s solo exhibitions include the Chinati Foundation, Marfa; the Henry Art Museum, Seattle; and the San Francisco Art Institute. Roden has been part of group exhibitions at the Fellows of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Mercosur Biennial in Porto Allegre, Brazil; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; the Serpentine Gallery, London; the Sculpture Center, New York; the Centre Georges Pompidou Museum, Paris; and Miami MOCA, Miami. Check out his website here and more examples of his work here, and be sure to come tomorrow to hear him perform!
Welcome back to the Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen! Every Friday between now and Thanksgiving, we’ll be sharing a recipe from our collections that one of our staff members has found, prepared, and tasted. We’re excited to bring these recipes out of their archival boxes and into our kitchens (metaphorically, of course!), and we hope you’ll find some historical inspiration for your own Thanksgiving.
With the warm North Carolina temperatures hanging on for dear life, now seems like the perfect time for a summer throw-back recipe, to take us back to moments hanging out by the pool and lingering over sweet, crisp ice cream. And what could better conjure up those images than a dairy free, nut based ice cream from Mrs. Almeda Lambert’s A Guide for Nut Cookery; together with a brief history of nuts and their food values?
I didn’t intend to make a dairy free recipe. When searching through our catalog, I hoped to find a rich, creamy dessert, preferably one containing my two favorite foodstuffs: heavy cream and sugar. While I did find lots of those, Almeda Lambert and her 1899 work ultimately piqued my interest. And once I noted the brevity of “Ice-Cream No. 3,” I knew there was no other recipe for me.
The story of how Almeda Lambert became a vegetarian cookbook author begins in Cereal City (Battle Creek, Michigan) and could fill an entire weeks’ worth of blog posts. Her husband, Joseph Lambert, worked for the famous John Harvey Kellogg (he of famous cereals) at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, a health and wellness center dedicated to Seventh-day Adventist principles. While there, Mr. Lambert saw the birth of peanut butter unfold at the Sanitarium. The Lamberts were quick studies and knew then what we all know now: peanut butter is delicious. They soon decided to strike out on their own, opening up their own nut mill business, “Joseph Lambert & Co.” (Smith, 2007.)
They were also fans of built-in advertising! An ad for “wholesome nut foods” created by the Lamberts can be found at the back of A Guide for Nut Cookery:
Although peanut butter became the Lamberts’ bread and butter (I’m so sorry!), Mrs. Lambert also had higher ambitions for her 434 page tome:
“It is the object of the author [Almeda Lambert] to place before the public a book treating upon the use of nuts as shortening, seasoning, etc., to be used in every way in which milk, cream, butter or lard can be used, and fully take their place.” (p. 6).
Within her work, Mrs. Lambert tested out recipes for mock fish, for the exotically named meat substitute “nutmeato,” and for custards, pies, drinks, and many other imaginative takes on traditional recipes. And while I’m not sure that her recipes have taken the world by storm since 1899, I hope that the proliferation of nut butters, flours, and oils out there would be a balm to her soul.
And now, on to the recipe! Below are some glamour shots of the recipe and the main lineup of ingredients:
Luckily for me, “Ice-Cream No. 3” only calls for six, very common ingredients: nut butter, water, sugar, vanilla extract, egg, and corn starch. While there are recipes for nut butter in A Guide for Nutcookery, I was not bold enough to make my own and instead bought natural peanut butter from my local store.
As noted in Aaron’s and Patrick’s blog posts, historical recipes don’t tend to provide a lot of context, and “Ice-Cream No. 3” stays true to that established form. After assembling all the ingredients and reading the directions, I was still a little confused but decided to go with my gut instinct. This was pretty easy to do when there were only six ingredients involved.
To create the nut cream, I boiled until the nut butter and water reached a thick, seemingly ice cream like consistency. A small snafu with the eggs and sugar ensued (I forgot to pre-mix them), but vigorous whisking saved the day and the ice cream. Vanilla extract and cornstarch were then added, and my cream(y) concoction was ready to go into the freezer. All told, the entire recipe came together in twenty minutes. Now, that’s my kind of cooking.
Only after I put the cream in the freezer did I begin to wonder about how the ice cream would taste. Some in my household speculated that it would freeze into a giant ice cube, and that it would only be edible after melting. My fervent hope was that the egg would lend the ice cream a custard-y texture, so that I would never have to buy custard again.
Sadly, my dream proved elusive. In texture and in taste, “Ice-Cream No. 3” bore a strong resemblance to an Italian ice. My spoon did not glide through the ice cream; rather, I chiseled away at the block, making small inroads until a suitable amount had accumulated. It was the best workout I’d had in quite a while, and by the end, I felt like I had really earned my dessert.
Verdict: Although not quite ice cream by today’s creamy standards, “Ice-Cream No. 3” is a deliciously easy variation. The peanut butter taste runs strong and true, and it tasted exactly what you would imagine something combining peanut butter, sugar, and water to taste like: wonderfully.
Does the thought of a Nineteenth Century vegetarian cookbook pique your interest? Good news, readers! Almeda Lambert’s A Guide for Nutcookery also lives on the Internet Archive. You too can try out any number of ice creams or even dare to be bold and make nutmeato sandwiches!
Lambert, A. (1899). Guide for nut cookery; together with a brief history of nuts and their food values. Battle Creek, Mich.: J. Lambert & Co.
Smith, A. (2007). Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Post contributed by Liz Adams, our awesome Stacks Manager.
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The Devil’s Tale Archive
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