Category Archives: Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen

Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Velveeta Corn Ring with Creamed Mushrooms (1942)

Corn_Ring_RecipeThis is a food story that begins in a laboratory.  Imagine white coats, goggles, beakers, hastily written formulas on a chalk board, and vapors with odd odors.  No, this is not the kitchen-lab of a trendy restaurant specializing in molecular gastronomy.  This is a lab at the Kraft Cheese Company and the year is 1915.  This is the beginning of Velveeta.

According to a 1930 advertisement from Kraft’s Educational Department titled “The Story Behind the Product,” in the year 1915, Kraft research scientists, uncomfortable with the amount of valuable milk nutrients lost in the traditional cheese making process, embarked on a food quest: to create a cheese product that would retain all of these nutrients without losing all of the desirable characteristics of ordinary cheese.  Ladies and gentlemen, the results of that noble inspiration are, in my mind, truly a food miracle.  Named for its smooth, velvety texture when melted, Velveeta is a dairy-based product composed of cheddar cheese, whey concentrate, skim milk solids, cream, sodium phosphate, and salt (the 1930 ingredients list).  But how would the company sell this miracle cheese food to American consumers?  How would they transform this product from a science experiment to a staple of the American table?  This would be a task assigned to Kraft’s advertising agency of record, the J. Walter Thompson Co. (JWT).

With slogans such as “Let Them Eat it Freely!” and “As Digestible as Milk Itself!,” Velveeta’s  early advertisements were educational with a focus on the product’s nutritional benefits, particularly for growing children.  A 1932 advertisement that appeared in several women’s magazines boasted of the product’s endorsement by the Food Committee of the American Medical Association and its award of a nutritional rating of “Triple-Plus.”  Velveeta’s balance of vitamins and minerals would effectively build up “resistance to colds, throat and lung infections,” act as a “safeguard against unsound teeth and bones,” and contribute to the “building of firm flesh.”  With Velveeta’s nutritiousness established, by the mid-1930s JWT’s campaigns for Velveeta began to focus on the product’s versatility in the kitchen.

JWT’s Chicago office test kitchen, ca. 1920.
JWT’s Chicago office test kitchen, ca. 1920.

In order to instruct American consumers on the myriad culinary uses of Velveeta JWT began to introduce recipes in the advertisements, a practice pioneered by the agency in the 1910s for another Chicago-based food client, Libby, McNeil & Libby.  In 1918, JWT opened a test kitchen in its Chicago office in part to develop recipes that featured their client’s products as central ingredients.  It was in this kitchen that JWT developed hundreds of recipes incorporating not just Velveeta but many other clients’ brands.  As the home of the Archives of the J. Walter Thompson Co. the Rubenstein Library has hundreds if not thousands of these advertisements.

My obvious enthusiasm for Velveeta aside, I chose this recipe for a harvest-time corn ring with creamed mushroom sauce for several reasons.  First of all, despite the fact that the recipe is devoid of any harvest fresh ingredients, the fall harvest theme seemed appropriate for this time of year.  Secondly, mushrooms.  I also wanted to see what this thing looked like in color—I had a feeling the black and white photo wasn’t doing the dish any justice.  Lastly, with winter approaching I felt myself in need of some firm flesh building, one of the many benefits of a steady Velveeta diet.

I more or less stuck to the recipe in the ad with only slight modifications.  I at least tripled the amount of diced onion, added a pinch of paprika to the corn ring batter, and used crushed croutons rather than fresh bread crumbs.  Additionally, despite the fact that everything from our grandparent’s kitchens is now trendy again, I do not possess a ring mold.  To mimic a ring mold I used an upside-down glass ramekin in the middle of a 9-inch pie pan.  Although this rig lacked the authenticity of a 1940s ring mold I felt it to be sufficient.  I also opted against the recommendation of the recipe that I purchase the economical 2lb. loaf of Velveeta, opting instead for the 16oz. package.  Other than dicing the onion and quartering the mushrooms there was minimal prep.

Recipe_Closeup

The corn ring actually smelled wonderful while baking, filling the house with a warm cheesy aroma.  After plating the corn ring with the mushroom sauce I began to understand why they opted for a black and white photo in the ad.  Aside from the decorative greens, the brown and grey color palette of the dish wasn’t exactly photogenic so I sprinkled a dash of paprika on top to give it a bit of color.  There were also no serving instructions so we sliced it like a pie and watched the creamy mushroom sauce flow.  Although extremely rich the dish was actually quite good overall.  This is one instance at least where the product lives up to the promise of the ad.

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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 Josh Larkin Rowley, Reference Archivist, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History

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.”

Goblin Sandwiches

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

Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: World War I Soldiers’ Soup

Allied Cookery Cover
Grace Glergue Harrison. Allied Cookery: British, French, Italian, Belgian, Russian.  New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1916.

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.

Soldiers' Soup Recipe

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.

Mise en place

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.

Finished product

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!

You can explore Allied Cookery in the Rubenstein Library or on the Internet Archive.

 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.

Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Ice Cream No. 3 (1899)

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:

Advertisement from 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:

Recipe for Ice Cream No. 3

Ice Cream No. 3 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.

Finished Ice Cream No. 3

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!


 Citations:

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.

Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Rice Apples (1777)

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.

For my shift in the Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen, I wanted to try something truly old-school. (When the idea for this series of blog posts was first proposed, one of the names we considered calling it was “Antiquarian Culinarian,” with the idea of recreating the flavors of times gone by.) Browsing the library catalog for cookbooks of yore, I came across a title that looked promising: The Young Ladies’ Guide in the Art of Cookery, Being a Collection of useful Receipts, Published for the Convenience of the Ladies committed to Her Care, by Elizabeth Marshall (T. Saint: Newcastle, England: 1777).

The 200-page volume is part of the collections of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, and it’s one of many titles the Bingham Center holds that offer a fascinating window into the domestic and social life of women in the eighteenth century.

Marshall (1738-?) ran a cooking school in Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 1770 to 1790. Such schools were not uncommon at the time and catered to women who aspired to work as housekeepers or cooks for the wealthier class. As Marshall explains in her preface, the book came about after frequent solicitations from her former pupils to put her most sought-after recipes in writing:

LADIES,

It is at your urgent and frequently repeated request that the following Receipts have at length come abroad. – You were sensible of the necessity of having an assistance of this sort to your memory; and the difficulty as well as expense of procuring the Receipts in manuscript, suggested the present form as the most proper and convenient for answering your intentions. – I hope this will be considered as a sufficient apology for the design. For its execution I have less to say. – The subject does not admit of elegance of expression, though I acknowledge the language might have been more correct. It was my wish to have rendered it so, but the various other duties in which I am engaged, would not allow me leisure sufficient for the purpose. – Such as the work is, I hope it will be received with candour, and consulted with advantage.

The eighteenth century wasn’t exactly the heyday of British cuisine, and many of the dishes in Marshall’s book hopefully won’t be making a comeback anytime soon. There are entries on how to make Herring Pudding, Calf’s Foot Jelly, Stewed Turbot’s Head, Eel Pye, and something called “White Soop.”

Inspired by the changing of the seasons, I opted for something a little more autumnal (and less zoological): Rice Apples! The recipe not only looked relatively easy and tasty, but it also presented a rare opportunity to use my apple-corer, a handy but sadly neglected implement in my kitchen that only gets a chance to shine once every couple of years.

Here’s the recipe, which I’ve transcribed below in case it’s difficult to read the old-fashioned ligatures:

Rice Apples Recipe

  • Boil a quarter of a pound of rice in three pints of water for a quarter of an hour
  • Strain off the water, and put to the rice, one pint of milk, one pint of cream, a stick of cinnamon, and lemon skin
  • Let them boil, and sweeten to your taste
  • Beat four eggs, leaving out two whites, put them to the rice, and let it stand on a slow fire a little
  • Keep it stirring till cool
  • Pare and cut the core out of your apples, put them in a dish well buttered, and strewed over with grated bread and sugar
  • Fill them with the above mixture, and cover them over with it
  • Strew it over with bread crumbs and sugar, and bake it a fine brown
  • Melt butter with sack and sugar, and cover them before they go to table

One thing you immediately notice about eighteenth-century recipes is their lack of helpful specifics. How many apples should you use, and what kind? Should the lemon skin be peeled or grated? (I went with grated.) Exactly how many minutes is “a little”?

Modern cookbooks don’t leave much room for interpretation. They give exact measurements, precise times and temperatures, and sometimes even brand-name ingredients, so that your dish looks and tastes as close as possible like the one in the book.

Not so with Mistress Marshall. Her instructions are more like general guidelines. A little this, a little that. But I actually appreciated that about her style. Cooking is more fun when it’s improvisational and you have to use your own judgment. In keeping with m’lady’s free-spiritedness, I even made a few modifications along the way, whenever I thought they might improve the final result. I’ll describe those here.

The recipe calls for three pints of water to cook the rice. That’s six cups of water, which is way more than you need for less than a cup of rice, and it would take forever to boil. I reduced the water to two cups, which was enough for the rice to absorb without having to strain any off.

I chose small snack-size Golden Delicious apples, the kind you can buy in a bag, instead of the jumbo-sized genetically modified ones you often see in the grocery store. The smaller ones seemed more historically authentic, closer to the size of apples you would probably find two hundred years ago. After coring and peeling the apples, I put them in a bowl of water with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning.

After adding the eggs to the milky rice mixture, you’re supposed to let it stand over low heat for “a little” and stir. I did this for about 15 minutes, until it started to thicken. Then I took it off the burner and stirred periodically for another 15 minutes or so, until it had the consistency of lumpy cottage cheese.

Instead of store-bought breadcrumbs, I bought a baguette and used a food processor to make fresh ones. And before popping the whole thing in the oven, I sprinkled a little ground cinnamon on top for good measure, because cinnamon and apples were made for each other. I think this was a good addition. I used a 350-degree oven and baked the dish for one hour.

The final step of the recipe calls for pouring over the apples a mixture of butter, sugar, and “sack.” I had to look up what sack was. Turns out it was a kind of sweet, fortified white wine from Spain, the forerunner of sherry. I’m not a big sherry fan, but I picked up a cheap golden variety in the wine aisle at the grocery store.

The verdict: Quite delectable, by Jove! The apples were tender and sweet, and the milky-rice-breadcrumb mixture was like an envelope of bread pudding. The sherry added a subtle boozy kick that seemed especially English. I would have no qualms serving this to company, however high or low their station.

 

Guest post by Aaron Welborn, Director of Communications, Duke University Libraries. Special thanks to Gwen Hawkes (T’16), Library Communications Student Assistant, for her help in researching this recipe and its historical context.

Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Apple Kuchen

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.

Happy Oktoberfest!  To kick off our Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen series, I prepared a recipe to celebrate the German festival, which runs this year from September 20th to October 10th.

The Recipe and Duke History

I found a recipe for apple kuchen, or apple cake, in the Ted Minah Papers.  The recipe was grouped with a series of recipes apparently intended for Duke’s Woman’s College, [1] ranging from barbecued meatballs to a lemon soufflé pudding.  Although a sweet cake, interestingly, the recipe was labeled as a bread recipe rather than a dessert.

The recipe helped me learn more about some of the culinary history at Duke, especially about the influential Theodore W. “Ted” Minah.  Minah was the director of Duke University Dining Halls from 1946 to 1974. By his retirement in 1974, Minah had transformed the dining halls at Duke University from a small operation to 12 dining halls serving approximately 15,000 meals each day.

The context for the recipe collection wasn’t clear – the ingredient proportions were for smaller portions, usually 4 to 6 servings.  Since it was coming from the collection of the Dining Hall director, I expected the recipe to be scaled to serve large groups of students, but perhaps the recipes were designed for a Woman’s College cookbook?  I’ve seen university-related cookbooks in other collections, like the “Culinary Casebooks” in the Duke Law Dames records (possibly a topic for a future “Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen” post!).

Like many older recipes, it was short and to the point – no lengthy descriptions of methods or ingredients to coddle the home cook.  I did encounter an interesting culinary term I’d never seen before, but which continues to appear in other archival collections I’m processing: Oleo.  Oleo was a common colloquial term used to refer to margarine, whose full name is oleomargarine.  I admit that I strayed from the recipe and used butter rather than margarine, but that substitution didn’t seem to hurt the recipe.

The Results

As often happens in the archives, I learned a variety of interesting new facts that I would have never guessed I’d encounter – from the history of the university, to colloquial cooking terms!

AppleKuchen in pan

Overall, the recipe was perfect for fall – the tart apples, cinnamon, and somewhat unusual cake batter made a tasty seasonal treat.  The recipe was easy and quick to make, used common ingredients found in any grocery store, and should appeal to even the pickiest eater.

apple kuchen on plate

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars!

Stay tuned for more tasty recipes from our collections!

1. The Woman’s College was established at Duke in 1930 as a parallel to Trinity College for men. The Woman’s College fostered a community that allowed for shared university faculty, curriculum, and educational facilities with the men’s college, while giving women an opportunity for leadership through separate student government, social standards committees, and judicial board.  The Woman’s College merged with Trinity College in 1972.

Post contributed by Patrick Dollar,  Drill Intern, Duke University Archives.