Recently in Research Category

Kirschner Collection Survey: How do You Use the Collection?


Have you used the Kirschner Collection to find a recipe, do research, spend an enjoyable afternoon browsing the cookbooks, or anything else? If so, I'd really like to hear from you. I'm conducting a survey of Kirschner Collection users to find out who uses the collection and how. Knowing more about you will help me to grow the collection. You can get to the survey here, or contact me ( and we can chat in person or over the phone.

Kirschner Collection Shelf

Searching the Kirschner Collection


Two questions I often get asked are if there is a list of books available in the Kirschner Collection and if there is a way to search books in the collection. As of today, the answer to both questions is "yes." Here's how to do it:

Finding a List of Books in the Kirschner Collection
To view a list of all the titles in the Kirschner Collection, just go to the Library Home Page and type "TMAGR_REFC" in the search box there. The set of search results you get (about 3319 titles right now) is all of the books in the collection. You can sort by date, title, or author.

Searching for Books in the Kirschner Collection
It takes a little finding, but you can now limit your search to just the Kirschner Collection. To do this, first, click on the Advanced Search button on the Library Home Page advanced.png
Then, click on the "Libraries Catalog" tab:
Finally, set your search scope to "Kirschner Cookbook Collection" (It's under "Magrath Library" in the list):
Now you're searching the cookbooks!

14 Days of Pi(e): Larrigan Pie


For today's pie, I dug up something a little different. "Larrigan" literally translates to "moccasin," but larrigan pie is not made from shoes, it's made from vinegar, cornstarch, sugar and water and was eaten by lumberjacks. Ann Burkhardt included this recipe from the Forest History Center in her book A Cook's Tour of Minnesota along with some other recipes and food history relating to the woodsmen of northern Minnesota.


Larrigan Pie
From A Cook's Tour of Minnesota (2004) by Ann Burkhardt

1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 unbaked 8-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Add the water, vinegar, and lemon extract; mix well. Pour vinegar mixture into pie shell. Bake for 45 minutes or until mixture sets and crust is brown.

Trussing Turkies and more


Homebrewing has become increasingly popular over the past few years. We have several cookbooks in the database Early American Imprints ranging from topics of homemade wine, beer, puff pastry, tarts, and more. These databases might be helpful if you are tracing the history of an ingredient or preparation technique.

  • Every man his own brewer, a small treatise, explaining the art and mystery of brewing porter, ale, and table-beer; recommending and proving the ease and possibility of every man's brewing his own porter, ale and beer, in any quantity. From one peck to an hundred bushels of malt. Calculated to reduce the expense of a family, and lessen the destructive practice of public-house tippling, by exposing the deception in brewing. By Samuel Child, porter brewer, London.
  • The new art of cookery; according to the present practice; being a complete guide to all housekeepers, on a plan entirely new; consisting of thirty-eight chapters. ... With bills of fare for every month in the year, neatly and correctly printed. By Richard Briggs, many years cook at the Globe Tavern, Fleet-Street, the White Hart Tavern, Holborn, and now principal of the Temple Coffee-House, London.

As we approach Thanksgiving, you might be interested in studying the history of various Thanksgiving dishes. Here is a lengthy description on how to truss a turkey.

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?).

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.

Wartime Chocolate Cookies

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In 1943, sugar was one of the food items being rationed in the United States, but Americans were still clamoring for their post-dinner desserts. Enter Marion White and her book Sweets Without Sugar. In this book, White admonishes her readers to get over their lack of sugar and get creative with other sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and corn syrup (some recipes even use marshmallows as a refined sugar substitute.) From reading the introduction, I get the sense that White was a no-nonsense kind of lady, and fitting with this image, the recipes included are very practical reworkings of popular desserts and sweets. Here for example is a cookie recipe:

Chocolate Drop Cookies

4 tablespoons shortening
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 squares melted chocolate
1 cup chopped nuts

Melt shortening, add maple syrup and beaten eggs. Sift flour, baking powder and salt and add, a little at a time. Stir in melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. Add chopped nuts. Drop by teaspoonful on buttered baking sheet and bake in hot oven (450 deg.) for about ten minutes.

If you are interested in reading more of Marion White's recipes or studying World War II nutrition, the entire book is freely available online via the Hathi Trust:

Image courtesy of the U Media Archive:

Hot Dish Then and Now

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If you're from the Midwestern United States, you're probably familiar with hot dish or as it's known elsewhere, casserole. I pulled two books from the shelf of the Kirschner Collection today that give us a glimpse into how both hot dish and American culture have changed over the last 60-ish years. The books: Casserole Cookery: One-dish Meals for the Busy Gourmet (1950) by Marian & Nino Tracy and Hot Dish Heaven: Classic Casseroles from Midwest Kitchens (2006) by Ann L. Burckhardt. The former is an exhaustive array of recipes from "lazy" cooks who liked to entertain. Some of the ingredients such as rabbit, claret, squab (pigeon), and calves' hearts used in this book would be difficult or strange to come by today, but are fascinating to read about.
Hot Dish Heaven, on the other hand, waxes nostalgic about casserole recipes from the era of Casserole Cookery, but the author has taken care to update these recipes for her 2006 audience. She has done this not just in terms of ingredients (e.g. "chicken" instead of "young fat hen"), but also in terms of cooking times and methods.
To provide you with a concrete example of what you'll find in these two books, I'm including a recipe from each:
from Casserole Cookery by Marian & Nino Tracy
Time: 4 hours if you marinate the hare; if not, just 1 1/2 hours
1 rabbit cut in small pieces
1/2 lb. salt pork diced
1 cup claret
1 bunch small carrots scraped and cut in 1-inch pieces
8 small white onions
8 small potatoes scraped
1 buffet-sized can mushrooms or 1/4 lb. fresh ones sliced
1/4 lb. butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon thyme
pinch of leaf sage
8 whole peppercorns

Melt butter and blend the flour. Brown the rabbit and salt pork in this. Place in a deep buttered casserole; add carrots, onions, potatoes, mushrooms. Mix the butter gravy from skillet, claret, 1 cup of water, and seasoning and pour over the rabbit. Cover tightly and simmer about 1 hour in a medium oven (375 degrees) until everything is tender. If you were forehanded enough to marinate the rabbit, just add the marinade to the gravy
Serves 4 or more

Pork Chop Bake
from Hot Dish Heaven by Ann L. Burckhardt
From the author's note on this recipe:

In adapting this 1970s recipe for today's kitchen, I had to switch from thin chops to thicker ones that would match the cooking time of the rice. Today's pork has been bred to be much leaner than the meat of the past. And thin-cut lean meat cooks very quickly, more quickly than the rice.

Three 1 1/4-inch thick boneless pork chops
Flour for coating
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 large tomatoes
1 large onion
1/2 green pepper, halved crosswise (for rings)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon leaf thyme or oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken or beef broth

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut each chop in half. Dredge pork pieces in flour and brown in hot oil in large skillet, about 5 to 8 minutes. Grease a 9-inch-square baking dish. Spread rice in prepared dish and arrange pork pieces on top. Slice tomatoes and cut onion and green pepper into rings. Distribute vegetables over chops. Sprinkle on seasonings and then pour broth over ingredients.
Cover and bake 1 hour or until rice is tender and pork is done.
Makes 4 servings

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.