What's Cookin' @ Special Collections?!
We’re Moving!

Sorry for the lack of a feature item today, but we have an excuse! For a number of reasons, Special Collections has decided to move our blog from Tumblr (we love you, Tumblr, but there’s more out there!) to WordPress, which will allow us to incorporate some new features. We’ve moved our old content over and you can now find us at http://whatscookinvt.wordpress.com. We’re updating any links on our website to reflect this change. If you have us bookmarked in your favorites or in an RSS feed, please be sure to update the link!

We’re looking forward to seeing you on the new platform, where we’ll return to our usual Wednesday posting next week! (This week, archivist/blogger Kira is trying to smooth out the transition and fix the hitches that came up along the way.) :)

P.S. We’ll leave this blog active until at least after the New Year, so you have time to follow us to our new location and so we have time to make sure we moved EVERYTHING over. 

A local news article on research using materials from Special Collections. This particular collection of items also includes two handwritten recipe and home remedy books! 

Food Trends: This Year and Next
A pair of brief articles from the Huffington Post Food this week share with us the hot (and somewhat surprising) food trends from 2011 and predictions on what will be hot in 2012. Check out these slide shows. It’s your chance to get ahead! :) Happy Eating! 

How about a little food nostalgia this week? This nice little find was donated to Special Collections just last year and it had us all amazed at the  undiscovered versatility of Wonder Bread. According to this little book, you can use it to make everything from asparagus wrapped in toast to casseroles to strawberry shortcake and napoleons. And everything in between. 

Published in 2007, the book includes recipes, each with a mini-memoir, by fans nation-wide. The two-page spread we’ve chosen to highlight today is strictly for entertainment value. The pepper recipe caused some discussion as to what exactly it might taste like. And the fact that there’s a recipe for how to make a “Wonder Bread Ball” is great!

The table of contents with the list of recipes is available through the catalog record here, if you want an idea of what other creations are waiting to be made. So, go buy a loaf and try some “Wonder Beef Cups”  today (think beef stew in a muffin-tin shaped piece of bread)!

Great blog posting by a follower of ours here at What’s Cookin’. Like us, Lee is both entertaining and informative! And a foodie!

Also in the news, Syracuse University has just received a large donation of modern culinary books from a long-time collector. It’s nice to see more academic institutions helping document the history and role of food in our lives!

Virginia Culinary Thymes—Winter 2011!

There’s a new issue of the Virginia Culinary Thymes newsletter! The newsletter is a product of the Peacock Harper Culinary Friends group and includes research articles, items of news and note, fiction and poetry about food, and highlights of books and manuscripts from Special Collections. The Winter 2011 issue, under the auspices of new editor, is available free online via the Special Collections Culinary History website. Back issues are available on the site, too! Be sure it check out the new format!

This week, let’s take a trip back in time! The oldest publication in the Culinary History Collection here at Virginia Tech is from 1692. It’s 24 pages of selected material, excerpted from a larger work. The title, you ask? 

A Pocket-Companion, Containing Things Necessary to be Known by all that Values Their Health and Happiness: Being a Plain Way of Nature’s Own Prescribing, to Cure Most Diseases in Men, Women and Children, by Kitchen-Physick Only. To Which is Added, an Account of How a Man May Live Well and Plentifully for Two-Pence a Day/Collected from The Good Housewife Made a Doctor, by Tho. Tryon. 

(Excuse me a moment, my fingers need a rest…) The text block is in a modern binding—you can see some of the marbled paper in the images above—but the original pages are chock full of “ſ” (long s) and “i”s replaced with “y”s. 

Although the title says it all, basically, in 20 pages, we’re provided a selection of recipes—from sugar-candy to wine, to “sallads”—as well as brief nutrition information about these and a few other specific foods, how to eat/prepare them, and in what quantities one should consume them. The excerpt related to living on two-pence is a summary of how much food one can live on in a day, with a couple of household hints thrown in for good measure. 

It’s worth noting that Thomas Tryon, the author of the larger work, wrote many books on a variety of topics during his life: nutrition and food, wine-making, how to find happiness in life, the treatment of slaves, and of course, the perils of alcohol and tobacco. All without a formal education! He was also a convert to vegetarianism, interested in both animal rights and conservation, and a hatter by trade. 

In a recent episode of Sunday Morning on CBS, there was a short (6 minute) story about Jell-O, including its history, gelatin art, and new approaches to cooking with it (think Modernist Cuisine). 

Although this week’s highlight is a little more modern in terms of its publication date, it is certainly historic in content. While digging around for something Thanksgiving-oriented, I was pleased to find this little gem. And of course, since two of the things I LOVE about working with the culinary history collection are old advertisements/ pamphlets and recipes—voilà! Enter Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie (2005). The first third of this book is all about the history of the holiday, including regional favorites, modern additions (can I interest you in turducken or tofurkey?), turkeys and presidental pardons, war-time changes, and everything in between. 

The rest of the book, not surprising, is devoted to recipes: appetizers and salads (gelatin, of course!), turkeys (including alternatives like brining, marinading, stewing, and stuffing with rice & beans), sides, and desserts. There are a lot of great recipes and images in this book, but I stuck with a few standards: stuffing, cranberry sauce/relish, and perhaps only slightly-less-common, pecan pie. (Sorry, the pumpkin pie recipe didn’t have a picture!)

Whatever you’re eating this holiday, whether it’s turkey or tofu, stuffing or dressing, sweet potatoes or mashed, and pumpkin or pecan, have a little extra. It all tastes so good it’s hard to resist. C’mon, we won’t tell. Enjoy your food and company. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!