May 2012 Archives

Fan mail


Today I received an email from a friend of the Kirschner Collection. Liz, who blogs at food for fun. Liz helped with moving and cataloging when the Kirschner Collection moved from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition to its current home in Magrath Library. She's written a post about her history with and interest in the collection. Please go take a look!

Home Economics 40: Food Preparation


Today I am giddy because I have found Doris Kirschner's Home Economics 40: Food Preparation notebook from her time as a University of Minnesota Student. The notebook does not have a year written in it, but my best guess based on the years Mrs. Kirschner was a student and some of the dates written in the back, is that it is from Spring, 1955. The front of the notebook contains a set of typewritten recipes issued to the class, while the back contains paper with Doris's notes. I've been having a great time reading the notes and trying to match them up with their corresponding recipes.


There are also notes scribbled next to the recipes themselves ... and lots of food stains! It's a great window into the U of MN's Home Economics department (test and quiz grading breakdowns for the class are scribbled on the backs of pages) , and the culture at the time. The recipes are for standard foods (e.g. rice, eggs, various meats) and showcase what were considered the best home preparation methods in the 1950s, as well as what foods were considered staples in U.S. kitchens (tomato aspic, anyone?).

Cooking With the Kirschner Collection: Asparagus & Pancakes


asparagus It's asparagus season in Minnesota! I bought two big bunches of it at the farmer's market last weekend and then went to the Kirschner collection for some recipe inspiration, which I successfully found in Deborah Madison's cookbook, Local Flavors (2002). This book focuses on seasonal, fresh foods featuring recipes with ingredients like lovage and fennel that you won't find all year round at your grocery store. I picked two recipes -- Roasted Asparagus with Citrus Butter and Apple-Oat Pancakes with Cheddar Cheese -- from this book to create a fancy breakfast for dinner meal, and both were absolutely delicious. In fact, I think I've found a new favorite pancake recipe.

Roasted Asparagus With Citrus Butter
From Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
1 1/2 punds asparagus
1 teaspoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh citrus juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped into chunks
1 teaspoon grated citrus zest

If the asparagus is thin, snap off the tough parts of the stalks where they break naturally. If thick, slice off the tough ends with a knife -- you can usually see a change in color where the stalks turn tender -- then peel them up to the tips.

Soak the asparagus in cold water while you preheat the oven to 425°F, then drain and put them in a gratin dish. (They needn't be dry.) Toss with the oil and season with salt. Bake until the stalks are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 20 to 40 minutes, depending on their thickness.

Boil the juice in a small skillet until it has reduced to about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter, then add the zest, a pinch of salt, and some pepper. When the asparagus is done, remove it to a platter and spoon the sauce over it.

Apple-Oat Pancakes With Cheddar Cheese
From Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking spices or ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 large apple
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Beat the egg yolks with the vanilla, buttermilk, and oil. Stir in the rolled oats. Mix the flour, soda, spices, and salt together. Grate the apple and the cheese. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the grated apple and fold in the whites.

Melt a little butter in a nonstick pan. When hot, drop in the batter, about 1/3 cup at a time. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the cheese on top. Cook over medium heat until the bottom is golden, then turn and cook the second side without patting it down. Serve with maple syrup or boiled apple cider.

Menu Planning


One of my favorite things about the Kirschner Collection is that it is a truly personal collection. While we continue adding newer items to the collection (per Mrs. Kirschner's request), the books that were actually owned by her have her markings all over them. You can find her notes scribbled in the margins as well as handwritten recipes and articles clipped from the Minneapolis Star tucked into the pages. Perhaps the most extensive personal touch the collection includes, however, is a microfilm reel containing thirty years' worth of Doris Kirschner's menu calendars. I finally got a chance to take a look at a few of these calendars and they are fascinating!

Here is the cover of Mrs. Kirschner's 1959-1960 calendar -- a promotional item from Dole. These calendar books brought to mind the Field Notes Memo Books used by farmers, which have recently been digitally archived.

And here is the monthly menu plan for May, 1970. I love the level of activity in this calendar with the arrows pointing all over, the way that May 27th couldn't be contained in one block (looks like there was a party), and that on the 29th "Jello?" is listed with a question mark and followed by "Ha". This is such a fun way to view the life of a family.