Category Archives: Just for Fun

Tomato Soup Cake (1972) – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen

It’s the fourth Friday of the month, so it’s time for another trip to the Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen!

As an intern in the University Archives, I determined to find a recipe from among the University Archives collections for my Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen post. I settled on one from a cookbook in the Law Dames records. The Duke Law Dames was a social and service organization in the 1950s-1970s made up of primarily law student wives, but it was also open to women law students and wives of faculty and alumni. The group helped new members settle into the Durham area and offered social and educational events such as lectures, cooking demonstrations, and parties. As the spouse of a Duke graduate student, I identified with the Law Dames’ aims to welcome new arrivals and provide a community of support (although no group cookbooks or fashion shows for me).

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Culinary Casebook was published in 1972. The cover (clever artwork!) is worn and has a few stains, and there are pencil marks within: page numbers written in the title page, checkmarks next to some some of recipes. I think this book was well-loved and well-used. It includes front matter about ingredient substitutions, meal planning, herb, meat and sea food guides, and some diet and nutritional information. Reminding me of an almanac, there is also a section of miscellany: symptoms and prevention of common illnesses, first aid tips, planting charts, Bible verses, how to determine the date of Easter. Why can’t I find that in today’s cookbooks?

As a vegetarian, my selection was somewhat limited but I still had a hard time deciding which recipe to try. The successful Velveeta Corn Ring from an earlier post made me more bold and adventurous than I might have otherwise been, and I settled on something that sounded a bit strange and piqued my curiosity: Tomato Soup Cake.

recipe

Tomato Soup Cake

1 can tomato soup
1tsp. soda
¼ c. cream
Dissolve soda in soup and let stand a few minutes. Take another bowl and put in:
1 c. sugar
1 heaping Tbsp. Spry
1 pinch salt

Mix well, then add both mixtures together, then add:

2 c. cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves

(Sift twice before adding.) Mix well and add:

½ c. raisins, floured
1 tsp. lemon extract

Bake 1 hour in slow oven in bread pan 9x5x2 ½ inches deep – 10 minutes at 350 degrees, 50 minutes at 325 degrees.

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I’m not a method historical cook, so I resorted to using my stand mixer. More power to you though if you want to use the old-fashioned bowl and spoon. The recipe does not specify if the tomato soup should be condensed or not but since condensed tomato soup is the most ubiquitous that’s what I used, reasoning I could always add a can of water later if the batter looked too dry. It came out perfectly though with just the condensed soup.

I come from a “pop” not a “soda” kind of family, but my first reaction was to think there was some kind of carbonated beverage in the bread. The recipe is, of course, referring to baking soda. As anyone with some knowledge of chemistry might have guessed, when I stirred the baking soda into the soup it reacted to create a nice, fluffy, fizzy kind of mixture. I’m not much of a chemist, so this surprised me!

I hadn’t heard of Spry before. A quick Google search told me it was a brand of vegetable shortening, so I substituted Crisco. Interestingly Spry’s popularity waned after the 1950s, which makes me wonder if the recipe originated at least twenty years before its publication in the Law Dames cookbook. A little online browsing reveals a general consensus that tomato soup cake originated in the early twentieth century prior to World War II.

I didn’t have cake flour on hand and couldn’t find it on my grocery trip, so I found a substitution: for each cup, use all-purpose flour and replace two tablespoons of it with cornstarch.

I assumed that the cloves called for were ground cloves. I also forgot to sift together the powdered ingredients. So much for reading the recipe beforehand! Actually I had, but I was too caught up in the drama coming together in my mixing bowl.

batterI put the batter in a greased 8.5 inch pan and baked for an hour as instructed. I ended up leaving it in for an additional fifteen minutes, but chalk it up to the peculiarities of my oven. The smell of cinnamon and cloves reminded me of pumpkin bread or some other kind of spicy, wintry baked deliciousness. Very appropriate for these chilly January days.

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The cake emerged looking and smelling more like a quick bread than a cake to me; I’m not entirely sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be or if it’s because I used all-purpose flour. Either way, it was delicious. The mild, faintly tart flavor mixed well with the raisins and spices. Warmed up with a bit of butter, it made a great breakfast, snack, or dessert. I would give it five stars!

When considering historical recipes, perhaps most people think of time measured in centuries, not decades – I know I do. Yet the pace of change can be very fast; it’s interesting to note what has changed and what has not in forty years. Assumptions about common knowledge or available ingredients shift over time, and something that sounds normal at one time seems strange at another – I didn’t know what to expect from tomato soup cake. But the Law Dame who submitted this recipe knew what she was doing! Here’s to trying something (old?) new

Post contributed by Jamie Burns, Isobel Craven Drill Intern, University Archives

ingredients

Doris Duke’s Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Milk

Long live the Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen! We’ve had so much fun trying out recipes from our collections that we have decided to continue the series on the last Friday of each month.

Christmas is over, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop eating. If you have room in your life for a little more dessert, I highly recommend trying Doris Duke’s Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Milk, one of hundreds of recipes available in the Doris Duke Papers.

Doris Duke’s collection includes boxes and boxes of recipes and menus from each of her houses — Duke Farms (Somerville, New Jersey), Rough Point (Newport, Rhode Island) , and Shangri-La (Hawaii). Duke appears to have collected a lot of her recipes during her travels (Thai and Hawaiian recipes were favorites), but her books also have plenty of American-style comfort food. Looking through the recipes was really fun, and it was hard to choose just one. I found a great one called Wine Jelly, which appears to be Doris Duke’s take on jello shots — except with sherry.

I wanted to make something to share with the Rubenstein Staff Holiday Party, so I went with the chocolate ice milk. It’s not quite as wild as some jello shots, but does have a ridiculous amount of chocolate, as well as espresso and a bit of cognac. And don’t worry about your New Year’s resolutions: it’s ice milk, not ice cream, so it’s totally healthy!

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Doris Duke’s Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Milk, from Box 177 (Folder 2) of the Doris Duke Papers.

The recipe dates from the early 1990s, so I found it fairly easy to make. The “bittersweet” part of the title is misleading — although the recipe has a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, it also has a full 2 pounds of semi-sweet chocolate. I used chocolate chips to save myself the effort of chopping chocolate. I also used homogenized skim milk, which seemed to work fine.

step 1The trickiest part for me was tempering the eggs, which involves pouring some of the warm chocolate into the yolk mixture, and then reuniting all of it back on the stove top. Do not expect any drastic change in the chemical composition of your mixture. When I finished heating everything and was ready to let it chill for 30 minutes, it basically looked like a giant bowl of chocolate milk. I was worried I would have to serve it with a straw.

step2After chilling for 30 minutes, a loose film had started to appear on the top of the mixture, which was reassuring. I put it in my ice cream maker for about 20 minutes, which thickened it up nicely. After an overnight in my freezer, it was ready for the party.

Verdict: This dish reminded me of hot chocolate, except it was frozen. It is extremely rich and pairs well with cake. Don’t skip the cognac. Just think: what would Doris do? (I know what you’re thinking. She’d also make the Wine Jelly. Here’s that recipe.)

wjPost contributed by Meghan Lyon, Technical Services Archivist.

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Wonder Woman’s Wintry Foe: The Blue Snowman

WW_BB_Cover (2)-page-001We write a lot about Wonder Woman. We write about her role(s) in nation making and myth making, her background tinged with exceptionalism and her femininity. We write about her big-screen potential, her small-screen potential, and any other mediums she might translate well to. (A serialized podcast, anyone?) What we don’t write about, or at least what we don’t write about often, are her foes—those vanquished, occasionally obliterated super villains who dared to mess with the princess of the Amazon. They are pushed to the periphery, partly hidden behind Diana Prince’s bright sun. Sometimes, however, a villain grinds his/her way back into the orbit, demanding that we take notice. The Blue Snowman is one of those villains.

First appearing in Sensation Comics #59, the Blue Snowman treads a very literal path: he is blue; he is a snowman, albeit one with very bushy eyebrows; and he puffs away at a pipe while plotting mayhem in Fair Weather Valley. A special “blue snow,” a chemical concoction designed to freeze everything and anything, is his weapon of choice. Money is his passion, and blackmail his way of obtaining it. That is, it would be if Wonder Woman hadn’t received a distress call from a friend in Fair Weather Valley, begging for the “marvelous Amazon resistance (4),” Wonder Woman. A swift kick, a lasso of truth whipped into action, and some near misses later, the Blue Snowman is apprehended and all is well.

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A tried and true story, perhaps a throw-away story, except for one small twist that you had to know was coming: the Blue Snowman is not really a snowman at all. Behind the snowman suit of iron is Byrna Brilyant, the daughter of a scientific genius who intended to use his blue snow invention to somehow save humanity. (The mechanics of using a blue snow-like substance for good are left up to the readers’ imaginations. I imagine non-melting ice cream is somehow involved.) This game-changer occurs in the penultimate panel of the comic, and yet, to Wonder Woman and crew, it is not actually a game changer.  Byrna’s story thus ends not with a bang, not even with a whimper, but with the slightest sound of a pin dropping hundreds of miles away.

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Although the reasoning can be guessed, we never learn why Byrna disguises herself as a man; why she chooses to go into crime instead of following in her father’s footsteps; or even why the Blue Snowman’s eyebrows are so bushy. Perhaps we learn her origin story in later comics, but perhaps we don’t. Like so many other super villains (and heroes, for that matter), it seems she can be found mostly in the white gutters between the comic panels. She is liminal, pushing boundaries and existing between boundaries.

She and her brethren don’t have to, though. Within the Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection, there are over four hundred boxes of comic books and counting. And within those comic books, there are thousands of characters ripe for synthesis, dissemination, and massive extrapolation. So here’s to those characters, those slightly quirky, serviceable villains who seek the limelight but somehow still fall short.

Post Contributed by Liz Adams, Research Services Library Assistant

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Motivation station: A look at workplace motivational posters from the 1920s

While you are pondering your favorite Demotivators poster, consider the history of the motivational poster genre. It turns out our predecessors in the Greatest Generation needed to be inspired or, perhaps more to the point, advertisers decided they needed to tap the group’s general deep sense of faithful commitment to shape their behavior in the workplace.

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An introduction to the series

 

In the early 1920s, salesman Charles Howard Rosenfeld proposed a series of motivational posters for workers to Charles Mather, who worked for his family’s Chicago printing house, the Mather Company. These “Constructive Organization Posters” were sold by subscription in over 300 varieties between 1923 and 1929.  In 1925, Rosenfeld and another Mather Company employee left to form their own printing company, C. J. Howard Inc., in order to sell their own line of “Action Posters.”

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Caption: The cards were 7” x 4.75”, designed to be displayed individually on workers’ desks on an easel.

 

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The cards were printed as multicolored lithographs, often with striking designs. Unfortunately, the designer is not credited.

 

We have 28 examples of these “Action Posters,” printed instead as a set of cards promoting work habits and qualities that would help the business employee to advance. They hold up examples of those who: consciously earn their fellow workers’ respect, keep healthy and happy, do not worry or gossip, remain loyal to the company, provide accurate work and work steadily, seek constant improvement, have a winning attitude, make good suggestions, take criticism well, and follow through on instructions. All of these traits were in contrast to so-called problem employees, who were unhealthy, resentful, lacking in motivation, and destined to be employed elsewhere in the very near future.

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A not-so subtle message about prattling at the water cooler.

 

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The Action Posters include seasonal well-wishes for employees.

 

We wish you Happy Holidays, no matter where you find your motivation.

Find more information, visit the catalog record for this item.

Post contributed by Alice Poffinberger, original cataloger/archivist for small manuscript collections. 

The Desserts!

Eating at the Rubenstein Library

We are still digesting the feast that was Wednesday’s Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen tasting event, but the bloating has died down enough for us to be able to share some photos from the celebration!

The Desserts!

Delicious sweet potato custard pie, apple kuchen, and blueberry pie, ready and waiting to be devoured! And we’d only just recovered from Thanksgiving!

There was so much eating to be done, but Duke people are very determined people.

Getting food!So much eating!

Here’s Rubenstein librarian Elizabeth Dunn serving Soldier Soup!

Serving soup!

And, to our very great surprise, the Velveeta-creamed corn ring was gone in the first half hour of the event. We’d even made two! We retract any previous skepticism about the appeal of this most excellent “cheese food.”

No more Velveeta!

Of course, we had the historical cookbooks and advertisements that provided the sources for our wonderful recipes out on display (with the stipulation that there could be no simultaneous browsing and eating; goblin sandwich filling would be tough to get off a 1777 cookbook…..).

Students looking at Rubenstein Library cookbooks!

Our intrepid taste-testers received zines containing all of the recipes and made by Rubenstein Library staff. If you couldn’t make the event, you can download a PDF copy of the zine here: Test-Kitchen-Zine-2014

Thanks to everyone who attended! We’ll have another tasting event—featuring recipes from our next round of test kitchen blog posts—in the late spring!

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Durham’s Beardy Bros

We have collections and rare books from so many far-flung locations, but we occasionally come across historical materials documenting life right here in Durham.

Brush Brothers Plege BookThe city of Durham’s centennial celebrations took place from April 26th through May 2nd of 1953, and people were excited! Excited to reflect on how much Durham had progressed and also on what changes might or should take place in the next hundred years. A particularly strange way in which some chose to celebrate the occasion was to join the Brothers of the Brush. Never heard of ‘em?

Spearheaded by Dante Germino, an engaged Durham resident who worked for the Herald-Sun Co. at the time, the fund-raising effort collected $1.00 per member; and the 3093 members pledged to do their “civic duty” by growing and maintaining a “moustache, full beard, goat-tee, or side-burns” throughout the celebrations. If a member failed to keep his promise he was brought before a Kangaroo Court of his peers.

Roster of the Brothers of the Brush

Evidence from newspapers at the time show that many local businesses took up the challenge. Check out these fellows at Coman Lumber.

Coman Lumber Advertisement, Durham Herald-Sun, April 26, 1953.
Coman Lumber Advertisement, Durham Herald-Sun, April 26, 1953.
Coman Lumber Signatures from the Brothers of the Brush Registry.
Coman Lumber Signatures from the Brothers of the Brush Registry.

Want to find out if a local family member of yours was an official Brother of the Brush? We’ve got the registry in our holdings for you to peruse; and we’ve also got local newspapers from that time.

Times have changed. These days, with so many hipsters out and about in Durham, we’d have an easy time collecting funds from bearded folks throughout the city. We could use Duke Libraries’ button-maker to make buttons for participants! We’ll have to wait until 2053 for the next centennial, though.

Dominique has a lovely beard!Post contributed by Dominique Dery, Research Services Intern, who may or may not have the lustrous and full beard pictured at right.

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Corn, Rice, and Beef Casserole & Blueberry Pie (1982)

This is the last post in our pre-Thanksgiving Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen series. We hope you’ve enjoyed exploring our collections through food and found some find some historical inspiration for your own Thanksgiving. If you’re local  join us on December 3rd from 3-4:30 in Perkins 217 for our tasting event and a chance to sample these recipes!

FullSizeRenderWhen I set off on my hunt for a recipe for my turn in the Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen, I knew only that I wanted a fun challenge. For a search that began with nothing in particular to guide it, I found a very lovely little book that seemed perfectly suited for me in my task. One thing I love about working in the Rubenstein Library is that I’m never sure what I’ll come across in a day’s work but I’m always delighted or intrigued by what I find, and this book was no exception! It is an artists’ book called Light and Flaky: Portrait of the Artist’s Mother: a Cookbook (1982) and was made by Lise Melhorn-Boe. The work combines Melhorn-Boe’s mother’s memories of experiences and adventures in cooking along with recipes from these stories and photographs of her mother throughout her life. And the handmade paper that covers the book is made from tea towels, aprons, tablecloths and dish cloths. The book was collected by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture here at the Rubenstein.

In the spirit of the book’s many memories about cooking for a large family, I chose two recipes to make for the lovely family that lives next door to me. The recipes I chose also give a good sense of the work as a whole, since these recipes are accompanied by touching and silly remembrances and photographs. I made a Corn, Rice, and Beef Casserole and a Blueberry Pie for my friend, her parents, and her two boys (4 and 8 years old respectively).

CasseroleRecipe

BlueberryPieRecipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I began my cooking adventure as soon as I returned home from the Rubenstein one evening: I first made the pie crust. The recipe calls for an all-Crisco crust, and I just happened to have a very very old tin of it in my cupboard. Perfect! Also slightly disturbing, since I couldn’t figure out where it came from. I didn’t tell my guests that, though! I let the crust chill for a while as I assembled the casserole.

CasseroleDish2It’s an extremely simple recipe. I cooked up a cup of rice, opened a can of corn, browned a pound of ground beef, and threw everything together in a dish to bake for 20 minutes at 350. I thought I’d jazz up this plain casserole just a bit for my special guests, and added onions and a dash of ground cloves (a flavor sensation that I picked up from my own mom) to the meat, and threw a bunch of cheddar on top towards the end of its baking. When the dish was cooked, I also chopped up some parsley and chives from my porch for a tasty garnish. This was an easy and fast recipe to fix for a bunch of folks at a moment’s notice, and there could be endless improvisation depending on what you had on hand.

Back to the pie: When the time came during my preparations to roll out my crust, I had a lot of trouble keeping it together. My guess is that I hadn’t given it enough time to chill. But I was determined to have everything done in time, so I pressed shards of it into my pie dish anyway, in a slapdash and frantic fashion, and poured in 3 cups of blueberries that I’d frozen from the summer (tossed with flour, sugar, butter, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, as the recipe suggests). Although the recipe noted that this crust would be enough for two, I didn’t find that to be the case, so I also whipped up a crumble topping with flour, brown sugar, butter, and spices.

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Things came together just in time after all. The casserole was warming and hearty, and a good reminder that cooking for friends doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy. I noticed that one of my young taste-testers ate it up in a flash and quickly disappeared under the table to begin tying guests’ shoelaces together. I took this as an excellent review.

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The pie wasn’t done until after the boys’ bedtime, which means that I had a lot leftover and have been enjoying it with ice cream for breakfast ever since. Despite small disasters in its making, and although it won’t supplant my tried and true butter-only pastry crust recipe, it was pretty delicious. It was also fitting that it would give me trouble since, in one of the stories in this book, Lise’s mother Pauline recalls summers when she would bake wild blueberry pies with her aunt; on one such occasion, her aunt mistakenly uses salt instead of sugar. Even in their attempts to hide the evidence of their error from an angry mother, they are beset with trials: “We tried burning [it] in a little old iron stove – we just had enormous clumps of large crystals, which we dragged out to the garden, and covered with earth and tears.” Luckily, no tears were shed in the making of my pie misshapen though it was.

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I looked at this book alongside another by Melhorn-Boe called Recipes (2001), also part of the Sallie Bingham Center’s collection. It is housed in an old recipe card tin, and contains memories and reflections of several women about family and food, typed on recipe cards and divided by topic — including “Atmosphere” (stern, relaxed, in silence, in front of the television), “The Cook” (stories about mothers and fathers and how they shared kitchen work, or didn’t), “Force-feeding” (thoughts about weight, body image, and abhorrent foods forced upon the writers – like lima beans!), and “Manners” (mouths closed, guests served first, elbows off the table).

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Both works are funny and sweet (and sometimes bittersweet), and contain much food for thought about women’s roles in the kitchen and in the domestic labour of family life generally, and how these have changed over time.

Post contributed by Dominique Dery, Research Services Intern

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Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Sweet Potato Custard (1870)

recipes cropFor this week’s test kitchen, I made a Sweet Potato Custard from a recipe in the November 1870 issue of The Rural Carolinian. The Rural Carolinian was “An Illustrated Magazine of Agriculture, Horticulture, and the Arts” published out of Charleston, South Carolina that provided advice and information on a number of topics that would have been of interest to farmers. Other articles in this issue include “How to Utilize Forest Leaves,” “Prickly Pear or Cactus,” and “How to Prune a Peach Tree” as well as more general interest reading such as “Anesthesia — What Is It? And to Whom are we Indebted for it?”

Each issue of The Rural Carolinian also included recipes, part of the magazine’s “Literary and Home Department,” which was intended to appeal to women, broadening the magazine’s audience. They sought submissions from women, asking them “Will not our dear friends, the ladies, interest themselves in our behalf and help us to make this department an attractive feature of The Rural Carolinian.”  The recipes included aren’t necessarily what we think of as recipes, under recipes this issue has instructions on how to make “family glue” and lamp wicks. However, this is in line with the older sense of the word which encompasses any “statement of the ingredients and procedure required for making something,” per the Oxford English Dictionary.

When I originally saw this recipe, I was interested, thinking, “I’ve never had sweet potato custard before!” Especially next to recipes like family glue, pumpkin chips, and apple water, it seemed unusual and intriguing. I didn’t read the recipe all the way through at first, and I missed the part where you put it in a pie crust, making it a not-so exotic sweet potato pie. Even still, I wanted to see how it compared to our modern sweet potato pies.

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Like a lot of pre-twentieth century recipes, the recipe is minimalist in its approach and doesn’t offer detailed directions. The recipe calls for four sweet potatoes, and I bought four originally, but I think the sweet potatoes sold at my farmers market are monsters compared to what was available in 1870, so I used only two of them.

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The recipe didn’t specify what to do with them beyond boiling and mashing, so I peeled and cubed them first before tossing them in a pot of boiling water until they were soft, about twenty minutes. After that I added the “two large spoonsful of butter,” which I interpreted as just over two tablespoons of butter, as well as a little salt. Then I got to use my potato masher, which only gets used at Thanksgiving. This gave me two cups of mashed sweet potato, which ended up being enough to fill my pie and then some.

Next four eggs “beat light,” sugar, spice, and milk or cream are mixed in with the mashed sweet potatoes. As Aaron noted in his post about rice apples, the lack of specifics in a recipe would have allowed for flexibility and improvisation based around what you had in your pantry. I appreciated this when the recipe called for milk or cream to thin it out, since all I had in the house was half-and-half. But I was a little flummoxed by the “teaspoonful of ground spice” called for. Was this referring to some particular spice that if I were cooking in 1870 would have just known? As a good librarian, I did some more primary source research and looked at other recipes from the era. As far as I could tell “spice” didn’t mean any particular spice, and there wasn’t one spice that dominated recipes of this time period. Cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and cloves all come up frequently. I settled on half a teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of nutmeg which was a tasty choice, but I think any common spices would be good.

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There was also the matter of a half-pound of sugar.  Before Fannie Farmer popularized standard and level measurements of cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons in her 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, recipes offered looser measurements (hopefully your household cups and spoons were similar in size to the recipe author’s!) or if you were lucky weights. But I don’t have a scale and had to do a little converting. According to Farmer, one pound of sugar is equal to two cups, so I added a cup of sugar to my potato mixture.

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After combining all this, it is to be poured into a “rich pie crust” that had been rolled thin and put in a pie plate. Interestingly, no pie crust recipe was offered, which makes me think the author thought everyone would have had a pie crust recipe at the ready. I went with a basic all-butter crust. Given the number of other recipes in The Rural Carolinian that call for lard, a crust with lard would have been more authentic, but I wanted my vegetarian friends to be able to partake.

The final direction is to “bake brown.” Grateful for a modern oven where I have the ability to set a temperature, I went with 350.  I kept waiting for my pie to get “brown” and it never quite got there, so I took it out after an hour. This may have been a little too long; it did crack once it cooled.  Next time, I’d check it at 45 minutes and if the center seemed cooked thoroughly, I wouldn’t worry about it getting brown.

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Despite the slight overcooking, this was a very good sweet potato pie. There was nothing that distinguished it from any more modern sweet potato pies I’ve eaten though.  I took a look at some modern recipes and they’re remarkably similar, though they usually have more butter and fewer eggs in them. I think I’ll actually fix this again for Thanksgiving, though I want to try pairing it with an ahistorical maple bourbon whipped cream.

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Want to make history this Thanksgiving? 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 Kate Collins, Research Services Librarian

Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Goblin Sandwiches (1946)

Adolph Levitt was the developer of the automatic donut making machine and father of the modern American donut industry. In 1920 he founded the Doughnut Machine Company to make and market the machine across the United States and to sell donuts under the name “Mayflower.”  Soon the company began preparing and selling standardized mixes for the machine, and acquired bakeries to produce the donuts. In 1931, the company opened the first Mayflower donut shop in New York City; 17 other shops followed across the country, making the first retail doughnut chain. The company changed its name to the Doughnut Corporation of America, dominating the industry with a range of products and equipment.

In the 1940s the Doughnut Corporation of America distributed pamphlet style cookbooks encouraging the use of donuts as the main ingredient in a variety of recipes recommended for serving at a Halloween party. I found one of these in the Nicole Di Bona Peterson Advertising Cookbook Collection entitled How to Run a 1946 Halloween Party. Looking for a Halloween themed recipe for the RL Test Kitchen, I was drawn in by the idea of using donuts in place of other bread products. There are several intriguing recipes included in this pamphlet, but the one that stood out above the others was for Goblin Sandwiches. It is worth noting that despite the fact that the company name includes the word “doughnut,” the recipes use the more layman spelling, “donut.”

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My only deviation from the core recipe was the substitution of toasted almonds for the requested Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts proved elusive in the two grocery stores I visited in preparation. A quick internet search showed that almonds (or most any other common tree nut) are an acceptable substitute. I toasted sliced almonds and chopped them using a small food processor rather than using the rolling pin technique described in the recipe.  Woe is the 1940s cook who has to roll her nuts finely using only a rolling pin.  Also worth noting is that an “avocado pear” is really just another name for avocado.

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Once the nuts were toasted and chopped this recipe came together very quickly with only five ingredients. I’ve always wondered what Deviled Ham was like having seen the cans in the grocery store.  Now I can tell you that the smell is not unlike dog food and the consistency is finely minced meat with a layer of yellowish water on top. I added the chopped avocado and almonds and mixed well.  The instructions said to “season highly” with Worchester sauce, which gave me a moment of pause.  I added a teaspoon, reasoning that more could be added to taste.  Once everything was mixed together it was quite green in color.  Cans of Deviled Ham are actually quite small at only 4.25 ounces each.  The cup of chopped almonds and an entire avocado actually were much larger in volume in this recipe, which probably diluted the pet food like taste of the ham. I imagine that the strong green of the avocado inspired the goblin name.  I spread the filling onto a typical plain cake donut sliced in half, making the traditional sandwich shape.

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My willing taste testers included my husband Steve and colleague Josh, both of whom profess willingness to try anything.  Steve said that the filling was quite bland and was over shadowed by the sweet taste of the donut. When he tried just a spoonful of the filling he reconfirmed its blandness and added several more shakes of Worchester sauce to the mix. Josh also confirmed that the sweetness of the donut overpowered the taste of the spread.  He acknowledged the crunch of the nuts and an occasional chunk of avocado, but felt that it was better suited for little rye toast rather than a donut. Should you decide to test this recipe at home, I recommend cutting and adding the chopped avocado as close to serving time as possible to retain the bright green color, which turns to an olive drab over time.

One other recipe to note is the Donut Fruit Salad.  I really wanted to make this recipe as well, but I have to admit that I could not follow the recipe and visualize what the end product should resemble.  Perhaps you, gentle reader, might have better luck.  We’d love to see if you can successfully follow the directions in this recipe and scare up a good time with this Donut Fruit Salad.  Tweet your pictures to @hartmancenter and @rubensteinlib.

Donut Fruit Salad

Besides the notable recipes, this small pamphlet also includes a number of Halloween Party activities to add spooky fun to your celebration.  Ideas include making place holders with donuts and donut horse centerpieces.  Both use quite a few toothpicks to achieve the desired effect, so make sure you have plenty on hand.  One game idea is called Donuts on a String and calls for contestants to try and eat a donut dangling on a string while their hands are tied behind their backs.  “First to finish and whistle the first two lines of ‘Dixie’ wins.”

Donut Horse

Perhaps these recipes and activities will give you some ideas for a last minute Halloween party tonight.  Just make sure you have plenty of donuts on hand and have a spooktacular night! Happy Halloween from the RL 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.

Post contributed by Jacqueline Reid Wachholz, Director, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History

ask an archivist day3

Thursday, October 30th #AskAnArchivist Day

ask an archivist day3

Always wondered what is involved in processing an archival collection? Want to know the best things we’ve come across in our collections? Are you still hanging on to a very special mix tape from high school and want to make sure it stays well-preserved? Wondering what’s up with the white gloves? Or just curious about what goes on behind the scenes at archives?

Today is the day to ask! On October 30, archivists around the country will take to Twitter to answer your questions about any and all  things archives!

To participate, just  tweet a question and include the hashtag #AskAnArchivist in your tweet. Your question will be seen instantly by archivists around the country who are standing by to respond.  If you want to hear from us here at the Rubenstein specifically, include our handle @RubensteinLib.  We may not know every answer right away, but we’ll get back to you after we’ve had a chance to do some digging!