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Cooking With the Gas Company

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Minnegasco Cookbooks
A coworker recently related to me that when her mother wanted to learn to cook, she went to her local gas company to learn how. I didn't realize until I stumbled across all of the cookbooks, recipes, and cooking demonstration pamphlets from Minnegasco/Minneapolis Gas Company in the Kirschner Collection, that gas companies used to do this. With a little digging, I found that the companies used to sell gas appliances (stoves, refrigerators, etc.) as well as provide the utility and had whole "home service departments" dedicated to encouraging these sales. In addition to recipes, these cookbooks are a really neat piece of local history. Recipes of the Month: famous foods from famous places in the Minneapolis area (1953), for instance, gives a snapshot of popular restaurants and dishes in the 1950s Twin Cities. What a find!

Minnegasco Cookies
From the recipe cards tucked in the back of Minnegasco's Cooky Book (195-?)

Ingredients
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 c. sugar
1 egg, unbeaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 sq. baking chocolate, melted
2 c. sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar well. Add egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Stir in melted and slightly cooled chocolate. Sift together flour and salt and add, beating well. Chill dough slightly before rolling out on pastry cloth to 1/8" thickness. Cut out with the Minnegasco cutter and place on ungreased cooky sheets. Bake in a Gas oven at 400° for about 7-8 min. Do not brown. Allow cookies to remain on sheet for a moment before removing to cake cooling rack.
Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 dozen Minnegasco cookies or 4-5 dozen round wafers.

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There's Always Money In the Banana Stand

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bananastand.jpg More than one friend has alerted me to weird banana recipes lately. This of course led me to dig out all of the banana cookbooks I could find in the Kirschner Collection. Actually, these are promotional pamphlets more than actual books, and they are chock full of just these sorts of recipes (Ham Banana Rolls With Cheese Sauce!). This got me wondering about why these sorts of pamphlets proliferated when they did, which led to more research on the history of bananas in the U.S., which led to finding Peter Chapman's Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World. I recommend it if you want to know more about the seedy underbelly of the banana industry. And just who is this United Fruit Company? Well, now we know them as Chiquita. Most (but not all) of these pamphlets were published by United Fruit/Chiquita. With that in mind, I'd like to take you on a visual tour of some of my favorite moments in banana propaganda. [Full disclosure: I am a banana fiend.]
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This little pamphlet is from the Fruit Dispatch Company. It includes the aforementioned ham banana rolls as well as some really tasty sounding things like Banana Butterscotch Pie.

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The Chiquita Banana first made her appearance in 1944. This version is from 1962.

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A Study of the Banana: Its Everyday Use and Food Value published by the United Fruit Company gives nutrition and health advice related to bananas. This page shows doctor-advised uses. I noticed that the "For Slim Figures" section advises readers to "ask your doctor for a free copy of the Banana and Skimmed Milk diet." This was another pamphlet which United Fruit provided to physicians for distribution.

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This photo from the Chiquita Banana Cookbook, shows baked bananas drizzled with currant jelly, curry sauce, and mint jelly being served with a variety of meats. On the next page, you can find a recipe for Banana Shrimp Curry.

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Chiquita advises decorating with bananas as well as eating them. Here are some on a book shelf. Obviously, they are not librarians. Who has this kind of space available on a book shelf?!

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Pancakes + bananas = funcakes.

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Banana shakes and smoothies! This picture just made me think of Spring. And I am desperate for Spring.

As a final bonus for a friend on Twitter, I leave you with a recipe. You must take a photo and report back if you ever make and eat this.

Banana Sardine Boats

From This Way to the Banana Salad Bazaar (1940)

Ingredients
1 ripe banana
2 sardines
1/4 lemon
Salad greens

Peel and cut banana crosswise into halves and place on salad plate. Cut a groove lengthwise along the top of each half. Fit a whole sardine into each groove so it will stand upright. Garnish with lemon and crisp greens.
Serve with mayonnaise.


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Cookies Candy Crepes

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Today I have cookies on the brain, and now this means I must make a field trip to Wilson Library on the West Bank Campus to find a microfilm reel of the December, 1976 issue of Redbook. Why? Because today while I was pillaging the cookie section of the Kirschner Collection, I came across Redbook's Get-Ready-for-Christmas Cookie & Candy Cookbook. This "book" is really just a pamphlet with some recipes -- it's a teaser for the December, 1976 issue of Redbook, which featured a visit to Minneapolis and St. Paul for the holidays, as well as recipes from our best Minnesota bakers. I would love to see all the recipes (hence the microfilm), but this pamphlet is a nice start. There are a couple recipes in it from Anne Dimock, who I'm guessing is the same Anne Dimock that wrote Humble Pie in 2005. If any of you out there who participated in this issue, I'd love to hear from you. In the mean time, here's a recipe:

CCCsmall.jpgAnne Dimock's Bondkakor (Swedish Country Lasses)
From Redbook's Get-Ready-for-Christmas Cookie & Candy Cookbook, 1976

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup chopped almonds
2/3 cup lightly salted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon dark molasses

Mix flour with baking powder and almonds. In a large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time and then add the molasses. Stir in flour mixture about 1/2 cup at a time. Divide dough into thirds and with lightly floured hands roll each piece into a cylinder about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper and freeze until firm. 1 hour or more. Heat oven to 375°F. Cut cylinders of dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place 1/4 inch apart on greased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until firm and edges are golden. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Frozen Dainties

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frozendaintiescover.jpg Do you dream of wandering through a forest where bowls of ice cream sprout up from the ground, and metallic mountains glimmer in the distance? If so, you should try some White Mountain ice cream. The White Mountain Freezer Co. of Nashua, N.H. published Frozen Dainties in the early 1900's to promote their ice cream freezer. The writers of this pamphlet take their ice cream very seriously, as well as their sherbets, water ices, and frozen beverages. They also make sure to put in a plug for their ice cream and/or freezer on every page, such as "The White Mountain Freezer is one of the great conveniences of advanced civilization and has come to be a necessity in the modern home" and "Nothing so refreshing to brain and brawn of the business man, the farmer, the mechanic, the working man, as White Mountain Ice-Cream." Here is there recipe for plain ice-cream, although I can't promise that it will be true White Mountain Ice-Cream if you can't get your hands on one of these crank freezers:

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Plain Ice-Cream
From Frozen Dainties by The White Mountain Freezer Co., 19--

Ingredients
1 Pt. Milk
1 Cup Sugar
2 Scant Tablespoonfuls Flour
1 Pt. Cream
2 Eggs
1 Saltspoonful Salt [note: I believe 1 saltspoonful = 1/4 tsp]
2 Tablespoonfuls Flavoring

Boil the milk and cream, reserving a quarter of a cup of milk. Mix the sugar, flour and salt thoroughly. Beat the eggs till light, add the cold milk and the sugar mixture, and when well mixed add the boiling milk. Turn back into the double boiler and cook twenty minutes. Stir constantly till smooth, and after that occasionally. Strain through a gravy strainer, add more sugar if needed, and when cold, add the flavoring. Freeze as usual. This is a good foundation for an inexpensive ice cream, and if a larger quantity be desired, more cream and sugar may be added with the flavoring. If the milk be boiling when the flour is added, and cooked thoroughly, there will be no taste of the flour. If you have no cream, use all milk, four eggs, and add one rounding tablespoonful of butter when you take the thickened milk from the fire.

Going Nuts in the Kirschner Collection

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I'm all out of writing energy this week, so instead of a regular post, I've compiled this photo journey through all of the nut cookbooks from the Kirschner Collection. My favorite title is definitely Around the Kitchen Clock With Walnuts.

Have a great weekend.

A Garden Tea

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Would you like to party like it's 1910 every day of the year? If so, you may want to take some notes from Elizabeth O. Hiller's Calendar of Luncheons Teas and Suppers (1910) in the Kirschner Collection. If you are unfamiliar with the term "luncheon," Hiller gives this explanation in the foreward:

Luncheons and teas are generally given by and for ladies. And it may be gratifying to know, that the popularity of luncheons seems to demonstrate the fact that it remained for the ladies of America to have evolved the luncheon in all its present form of feminine entertainment. There is no denying that our English cousins gave us the delightful Five O'Clock Tea, which has the charm of informality, and which we readily adopted, and immediately perceived the possibilities it suggested in the way of giving "novel" entertainments in the home.

So there, British ladies. Luncheons were considered "evolved" teas. There is also an explanation of when an afternoon tea should include dancing (although, if you ask me, all afternoon teas should include dancing.)
If you'd like to give luncheon/tea a try this weekend, I'm including the menu for June 29th here:

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A Garden Tea
Chicken Salad
Orange Mint Relish
Hot Buttered Rolls
Radishes
Olives
Salted Nut Meats
*Raspberry and Currant Ice
Cocoanut Cake
Orange Sponge Cake
Red and Pink Ox-heart Cherries
Hot Tea
Tea Punch Iced Tea

*RASPBERRY AND CURRANT ICE -- Make a syrup by boiling 1 qt. of water and 1 3/4 c. sugar 5 mins., add 3/4 c. of red raspberry juice (discarding seeds) and 1 1/2 c. red currant juice, cool, strain and freeze; using equal measure of crushed ice and rock salt. Serve in shallow champagne glasses and garnish with frosted currants. To frost currants: brush perfect clusters of red and white currants lightly with slightly beaten white of egg, then dredge them with coarse gran. sugar.

The Modern Hostess

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If you are a scholar or fan of mid-century food and culture in North America or a Mad Men style aficionado, I cannot recommend a visit to the Kirschner Collection enough. Case in point: The Modern Hostess: Entertaining Ideas from Salada Foods Kitchens. There is no date on this small book, but it seems to be from some time around 1960 and was targeted at the Canadian homemaker to help her "not only [with] home and family entertaining, but [with] some of the many public-spirited and charitable responsibilities which are part of modern life." In addition to many recipes featuring Salada and Shirriff products, the book offers advice on serving tea and getting one's timing correct when toasting and smoking:

"In Canada, the toast to the Queen is proposed at public luncheons and dinners. It is not correct to smoke until this toast has been proposed. If a prominent representative of another country is present, courtesy requires a toast to the head of his government."

Gone With the Wind and Toothpaste

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I came across an item in the Kirschner collection today that reminded me how useful this resource is for many types of research -- not just those dealing directly with food, recipes and nutrition. The item I found was a small booklet titled Gone With The Wind Cook Book: Famous "Southern Cooking" Recipes.
Gone With the Wind Cook Book
This particular booklet sent me down a rabbit hole of marketing research. It was produced by Pebeco Tooth Paste and Pebeco Tooth Powder (prominently advertised on the back cover), and came free with the purchase of either product in 1939, the year Gone With the Wind was released. This initially struck me as odd until I remembered that just a few days ago, I was borrowing my niece's Sponge Bob toothpaste. A little different and a little similar.
On further examination, this small piece of cross-promotion could have sent me in any number of different directions: women's studies (the book is full of references to the roles of housewives and the importance of keeping a 17 (!) inch waistline), history of southern cooking, historical illustrations, marketing language. And those are just off the top of my head.

An Introduction ... and Marshmallows

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Welcome to the Kirschner Collection Blog! This blog is a new project that will showcase cookbooks, recipes, research, and events from the Doris S. Kirschner Cookbook Collection at the University of Minnesota Libraries. For more information about Doris S. Kirschner and the collection, you can see our About page.

I would like to start off this blog by showcasing something whimsical I found among the cookie cookbooks in the collection (that's the TX773 section for those of you who want to know.) This item is not a cookbook, but a pamphlet entitled 50 ways to use Marshmallows: A Household Necessity.

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This pamphlet was produced by the S.S. Kresge company (a predecessor to K-Mart) and does not include a copyright date, although I have seen some sources that say it was published in the 1940s. The book includes a recipe for a "marshmallow graham cracker sandwich," so it can be speculated that it was published before the popular use of the word "s'mores."

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In addition to providing 50 recipes for foods with marshmallows, the pamphlet also touts the purity and wholesomeness of marshmallows. The page above includes the following gem:

THE BEST SWEETS FOR CHILDREN
Marshmallows contain only pure, wholesome ingredients. They are, therefore, the best sweets for children. Let them eat all they want, either plain or in table dishes.