Cakes and Ale at Woodbine: From Twelfth Night to New Year’s Day

By Paul Theerman, Associate Director

Part of the Margaret Barclay Wilson collection of cookbooks and cookery, Cakes and Ale at Woodbine: From Twelfth Night to New Year’s Day is a pseudonymously published light novel of mid-century Fordham, New York. Ostensibly the work of “Barry Gray,” the book was written by Robert Barry Coffin (1826–1886), one of the “Bohemians” of antebellum New York.[i]  He was a critic for, and eventually editor of, the Home Journal, later renamed Town and Country, which continues in publication to this day.  This book was first published in 1868; the Library’s edition is from 1883.

The “cakes and ale” of the title is not culinary, but purely literary. On the title page is this quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” (Act 2, Scene 3).

sir-toby-belch

Sir Toby Belch uttered the line “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” the epigram for the novel. This is an image of Lionel Brough in a 1901 production.

“Cakes and ale” are not only mentioned in Twelfth Night, they are parts of Twelfth-Night celebrations: the merriment on the day of (or day before, depending on how one count) the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, the twelfth day after Christmas. Coffin is therefore having fun with the title, “From Twelfth Night to New Year’s Day,” as it means from January 6 all around to January 1: a romp through the year, touching on all the major holidays in turn. Each day is an occasion for indulging in cakes and ale, “the good things of this life” (p. 13): Epiphany, the first day of spring, a birthday, Easter, the fourth of July, “summer,” Christmas and a Christmas wedding, and then New Year’s.

Set at the author’s purported cottage, Woodbine, in Fordham, New York, domestic scenes alternate with long fanciful stories, much of which contrast city and country life, to the decided benefit of the latter! Toward the end of the book, the narrator has an imagined (perhaps alcohol-induced) encounter with Santa Claus, who says he prefers the large expansive chimneys of the country to the narrow ones of the city, and thought that the new city fashion of Christmas trees might put him out of a job:

“When the city folks first began to talk about Christmas trees, and introduced them into their nurseries, it nearly broke my heart; for I feared that my occupation . . . was gone” [p. 225.]

The virtues of the country always win out, in grand matters of love, and more prosaic ones of cakes and ale.

May you have a great holiday season, and may you get all the cakes and ale you want!


Another literary retreat, left, the Edgar Allan Poe house in Fordham, New York, where the author lived from 1846 to 1849, some 20 years before the recounted events in Cakes and Ale, also set in Fordham, a village only recently connected to the city by rail.  Right, a view of the Poe cottage in its rural setting.

References

[i] “Gray, Barry (1826–1886) [Robert Barry Coffin],” in “The Vault at Pfaff’s: An Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York,” https://pfaffs.web.lehigh.edu/node/54192, accessed December 22, 2016.

Image Sources

#ColorOurCollections, Day 2

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It’s the second day of #ColorOurCollections, a week-long special collections coloring fest we’ve organized on social media. Yesterday, the number of participating cultural institutions grew from nearly 60 to nearly 100—thanks to all who are taking part (see our growing list)!

Every day on our blog, we will feature #ColorOurCollections coloring sheets from our library, along with content from participants worldwide. You can also download our full #ColorOurCollections coloring book.

Today’s coloring pages come from Bartolomeo Scappi’s Opera. Renaissance chef Scappi (ca. 1500–1577) cooked for six popes and was installed as chef at the Vatican while Michelangelo was completing the Sistine Chapel. His famous cookbook, first published in Venice in 1570, contains more than 1,000 recipes as well as charming and detailed illustrations showing the kitchens, implements, and culinary tools of a high-end Italian household. Here are two his illustrations; you can find three more in the full coloring book.

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Coloring page from Bartolomeo Scappi’s Opera, 1596. Click to download the PDF coloring sheet.

Coloring page from Bartolomeo Scappi's <em>Opera</em>, 1596.

Coloring page from Bartolomeo Scappi’s Opera, 1596. Click to download the PDF coloring sheet.

Yesterday’s offering of #ColorOurCollections images was extraordinary. Today, we are thrilled to feature two coloring books and two image collections. The Massachusetts Historical Society’s book has fantastic images from its archives, including “Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Transparent Eyeball.”

"Ralph Waldo Emerson's Transparent Eyeball." Christopher P. Cranch journal, p. 10, 1839. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

“Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Transparent Eyeball.” Christopher P. Cranch journal, p. 10, 1839. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s coloring book offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to color a manticore.

Manitchora from The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpants by Edward Topsell. London, 1658. Courtesy of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Manitchora from The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpants by Edward Topsell. London, 1658. Courtesy of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

We also love the image collections from DPLA and the Folger Library. Here’s a favorite DPLA offering:

Illustration from The history of the Caribby-islands , 1666. Courtesy of DPLA.

Illustration from The history of the Caribby-islands, 1666. Courtesy of DPLA.

And a Hamlet illustration from the Folger:

Illustration by John Austen for a 1922 edition of Shakespeare's Hamlet (ART Box A933 no.30). Courtesy of the Folger Library.

Illustration by John Austen for a 1922 edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (ART Box A933 no.30). Courtesy of the Folger Library.

In New York? Want to color with others? The New York Botanical Garden’s Mertz Library is hosting #ColorOurCollections coloring parties on Wednesday, February 3 and Friday, February 5, from 12pm–2pm.

Keep following #ColorOurCollections on your favorite social media outlets, and keep an eye on our Pinterest boards, where we are pinning images shared by participating special collections along with images colored by fans. On Friday, our final #ColorOurCollections post will include a list of all of the coloring books created and shared by participants.

“Good Cakes Like Us Are Baked With Care and Royal Baking Powder!” (Item of the Month)

By Arlene Shaner, Reference Librarian for Historical Collections

Some of the most engaging materials in the cookery collection of the New York Academy of Medicine’s Library are late 19th and early 20th century advertising pamphlets. Small books of recipes, histories of coffee, tea, spices, and other foods, and brochures touting the health benefits of one product or another offer a window into the changing tastes of the American public, new innovations in the mass production of foods, and the development of mass market advertising. A number of these pamphlets came to us as part of NYAM Fellow Margaret Barclay Wilson’s collection of books on food and cookery, donated to the library in 1929.

RoyalBakingPowderCo_TheLittleGingerbreadMan_1923_cover_watermarkOne charming example is The Little Gingerbread Man, published in 1923 by the Royal Baking Powder Company, located at 108 East 42nd Street in New York. Written in rhyme, the pamphlet tells the story of the land of Jalapomp, where baking has been declared illegal because of the ineptitude of the cook. Poor Princess Posy, whose birthday is approaching, worries that she won’t have a cake. Alerted to the sad state of affairs by a little Flour Fairy, the Queen of Flour Folk sends Johnny Gingerbread and his friends off in a chocolate plane to save the day. Toting a tin of Royal Baking Powder and a copy of the New Royal Cook Book for the cook, the fragrant baked treats convince the king that baking powder and new recipes will set things right before they head back home to Cookery Land.

A tin of Royal Baking Powder features prominently in most of the pamphlet’s illustrations, and the cookbook appears as well. You, too, can try your hand at making some of the Royal treats, as almost every page also contains a recipe for baked goods, including one for gingerbread men. Readers of the pamphlet (or their mothers, since the book itself was clearly meant for children) could obtain free copies of the New Royal Cook Book by writing to the company as instructed on the final page of the story.

Although she is uncredited, the author of the pamphlet was probably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote more than 20 volumes of the Oz series, a continuation the stories told in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its many sequels. The illustrations are attributed to Charles J. Coll.

Click the images to read the full pamphlet:

Canapé Parade

By Johanna Goldberg, Information Services Librarian

Thanksgiving means many things: spending time with family, reflecting on what you’re thankful for, looking back at American history. But the essence of the holiday can be stated in three words: food, football, and parades.

Our collection contains a whimsical pamphlet that combines two of the three (sorry, football fans): “Canapé Parade: 100 Hors d’Oeuvre Recipes,” published in 1932. (We have the fourth printing, from November of that year.)

The cover of Canapé Parade. Click to enlarge.

The cover of Canapé Parade.

The personality-filled canapés from the cover reappear throughout the pamphlet, illustrating recipes like bloater paste, Japanese crabmeat, herring, and marrons in brandy. Unfortunately, the pamphlet does not credit the illustrator.

None of the recipes specify ingredient amounts, “as the consistency and proportion of ingredients used will vary according to the individual palate.” The recipes take a semi-homemade approach, adding minimal fresh items to packaged food before spreading on crackers. The cookbook also advises that “the majority of these hors d’oeuvres also make excellent sandwich fillings to be served between thinly sliced bread at afternoon tea or buffet suppers.”

Enjoy the recipes on parade below (click to enlarge and view the gallery):

For more traditional Thanksgiving recipes, read Thanksgiving, 1914 Style.

Cookery for a Jewish Kitchen

By Johanna Goldberg, Information Services Librarian

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Passover begins the night of March 25. In preparation, we’re sharing some recipes from an early English-language Jewish cookbook in our collection. The library and rare book room house a large number of cookery-related items, as nutrition and health are inextricably linked.

After the cost of books plummeted in the 1800s, Jewish cookbooks came on the scene, first in Germany around 1815. In 1846, the first English-language cookbook was released in London.¹

The cookbook in our collection, Aunt Sarah’s Cookery Book for a Jewish Kitchen, was published in Liverpool in 1872.

 “I have been induced to publish this little Book, the result of long experience, for the purpose of teaching young and inexperienced Jewish Housewifes the art of cooking their daily food in a proper manner, without infringing those dietary laws, the observance of which has been of so much importance to the health and well-being of our people. The directions are plain and simple, the most minute particulars are given with the greatest exactness, which, if attended to as written down, cannot fail of success. I have taken every pains, so that it may be easily understood by the most inexperienced; and if my humble endeavors to assist my Sisters in Faith in acquiring a knowledge of one of the most important of their Domestic duties be appreciated, and the higher object be also recognized, my labour will not have been in vain.AUNT SARAH”

“I have been induced to publish this little Book, the result of long experience, for the purpose of teaching young and inexperienced Jewish Housewifes the art of cooking their daily food in a proper manner, without infringing those dietary laws, the observance of which has been of so much importance to the health and well-being of our people. The directions are plain and simple, the most minute particulars are given with the greatest exactness, which, if attended to as written down, cannot fail of success. I have taken every pains, so that it may be easily understood by the most inexperienced; and if my humble endeavors to assist my Sisters in Faith in acquiring a knowledge of one of the most important of their Domestic duties be appreciated, and the higher object be also recognized, my labour will not have been in vain.
AUNT SARAH”

At the time of the book’s publication, matzo didn’t look like it does today—a piece of matzo was most often “round, irregular, or oval-shaped.”² The mechanization of matzo began with the invention of a kneading device in 1838, and progressed after the first matzo factory, Manischewitz, opened in Cincinnati in 1888. Eventually, the factory produced entirely machine-made, and square, pieces of unleavened bread.²

Aunt Sarah did not write the recipes in this book with most (non-shmurah) modern matzo in mind, and her ingredients are not always as common today as they were in the 1870s. If you try one of the recipes, let us know how it translates to the modern kitchen. And take a picture—unfortunately, this little book only includes text.

Here are some recipes to add to your holiday repertoire this year.³

Matzo Cake.

Put a matzo on a plate, strew over it almonds finely chopped; then sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake on a tin five or six minutes.

Potato Cake, or Pudding.

One pound of gratered potatoes (boiled in their skins the day before), one pound of sifted loaf sugar, three ounces of pounded almonds, the rind (gratered) and juice of one lemon, and the yolks of twelve eggs (beaten). Mix all together. Then take the whites of the eggs, beat them to a froth, and add it to the rest. Bake in a moderate oven, in small dishes, greased with salad oil.

A delicious Pudding for Passover.

Take whole matzos [a handwritten note specifies two or three], put each into a soup-plate, with sufficient cold water to make them very soft; drain off the water, leaving the matzos whole; grease a basin with dripping a quarter of an inch thick, cover it well with brown sugar, and line it with the soaked matzo the same as the paste for a steffin [another of Aunt Sarah’s recipes, basically a pie crust dough made with water, flour, and suet]. Mix well together a quarter of a pound of chopped raisins, the same of currants, ditto of chopped suet,* one ounce of preserved citron, ditto of orange and lemon (chopped), the juice of one lemon, the rind of half (gratered), half a teaspoonful of ground cinnamon, a quarter of a small nutmeg (gratered), half a teaspoonful of salt, and a wine glass of rum. Then put the mixture into the lined basin, about an inch thick; cover with the soaked matzo, strew over brown sugar; then the mixture and the matzo alternately, until the basin is full, the matzo forming the top layer. Make holes with a knife not quite to the bottom of the basin, and pour over it by degrees eight eggs (well beaten). When all is soaked into the pudding, put a little dripping over the top; then cover it with brown sugar. Bake in a moderate oven from an hour and a half to two hours, until quite brown. Turn it on to a flat dish, bottom up, and serve very hot. I must be made two hours before putting in the oven.

And Aunt Sarah’s take on the evergreen classic:

Matzo Ball Soup.

Stew slowly for six hours, in five pints of water, four pounds shin of beef, four pounds of mutton or veal, three leeks, a little celery, and a teaspoonful of salt. Strain and take off the fat.

For the Balls.—Take a teacupful of matzo meal, half a teaspoonful of salt, the same of ground ginger, one small Spanish onion chopped fine, and browned in a frying pan with a little dripping, and two teacupsful of matzo soaked in cold water and squeezed dry. Mix all together, with a half a teacupful of the broth and one or two eggs, sufficient to make it the consistence of forcemeat. Make it into balls, and boil them in the soup twenty minutes before serving.

*A common English ingredient, often found in early Jewish cookbooks, but not kosher.¹

References:

1. Marks, G. (2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. John Wiley & Sons.

2. Sarna, J. D. (2005). How Matzah Became Square: Manischewitz and the Development of Machine-made Matzah in the United States. Sixth Annual Lecture of the Victor J. Selmanowitz Chair of Jewish History, Touro College, Graduate School of Jewish Studies, New York, NY. Retrieved February 22, 2013 from http://www.brandeis.edu/hornstein/sarna/americanjewishcultureandscholarship/Archive/HowMatzahBecameSquare.pdf

3. Aunt Sarah. (1872). Aunt Sarah’s cookery book for a Jewish kitchen: Containing plain and easy directions. How to cook fish, meat, poultry, and vegetables; to make pastry, puddings, sweets, preserves, and pickles, &c., with additional recipes for Passover. Liverpool: Yates and Hess.