It’s the fourth Friday of the month, so it’s time for another trip to the Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen!
As an intern in the University Archives, I determined to find a recipe from among the University Archives collections for my Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen post. I settled on one from a cookbook in the Law Dames records. The Duke Law Dames was a social and service organization in the 1950s-1970s made up of primarily law student wives, but it was also open to women law students and wives of faculty and alumni. The group helped new members settle into the Durham area and offered social and educational events such as lectures, cooking demonstrations, and parties. As the spouse of a Duke graduate student, I identified with the Law Dames’ aims to welcome new arrivals and provide a community of support (although no group cookbooks or fashion shows for me).
Culinary Casebook was published in 1972. The cover (clever artwork!) is worn and has a few stains, and there are pencil marks within: page numbers written in the title page, checkmarks next to some some of recipes. I think this book was well-loved and well-used. It includes front matter about ingredient substitutions, meal planning, herb, meat and sea food guides, and some diet and nutritional information. Reminding me of an almanac, there is also a section of miscellany: symptoms and prevention of common illnesses, first aid tips, planting charts, Bible verses, how to determine the date of Easter. Why can’t I find that in today’s cookbooks?
As a vegetarian, my selection was somewhat limited but I still had a hard time deciding which recipe to try. The successful Velveeta Corn Ring from an earlier post made me more bold and adventurous than I might have otherwise been, and I settled on something that sounded a bit strange and piqued my curiosity: Tomato Soup Cake.
Tomato Soup Cake
1 can tomato soup
¼ c. cream
Dissolve soda in soup and let stand a few minutes. Take another bowl and put in:
1 c. sugar
1 heaping Tbsp. Spry
1 pinch salt
Mix well, then add both mixtures together, then add:
2 c. cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
(Sift twice before adding.) Mix well and add:
½ c. raisins, floured
1 tsp. lemon extract
Bake 1 hour in slow oven in bread pan 9x5x2 ½ inches deep – 10 minutes at 350 degrees, 50 minutes at 325 degrees.
I’m not a method historical cook, so I resorted to using my stand mixer. More power to you though if you want to use the old-fashioned bowl and spoon. The recipe does not specify if the tomato soup should be condensed or not but since condensed tomato soup is the most ubiquitous that’s what I used, reasoning I could always add a can of water later if the batter looked too dry. It came out perfectly though with just the condensed soup.
I come from a “pop” not a “soda” kind of family, but my first reaction was to think there was some kind of carbonated beverage in the bread. The recipe is, of course, referring to baking soda. As anyone with some knowledge of chemistry might have guessed, when I stirred the baking soda into the soup it reacted to create a nice, fluffy, fizzy kind of mixture. I’m not much of a chemist, so this surprised me!
I hadn’t heard of Spry before. A quick Google search told me it was a brand of vegetable shortening, so I substituted Crisco. Interestingly Spry’s popularity waned after the 1950s, which makes me wonder if the recipe originated at least twenty years before its publication in the Law Dames cookbook. A little online browsing reveals a general consensus that tomato soup cake originated in the early twentieth century prior to World War II.
I didn’t have cake flour on hand and couldn’t find it on my grocery trip, so I found a substitution: for each cup, use all-purpose flour and replace two tablespoons of it with cornstarch.
I assumed that the cloves called for were ground cloves. I also forgot to sift together the powdered ingredients. So much for reading the recipe beforehand! Actually I had, but I was too caught up in the drama coming together in my mixing bowl.
I put the batter in a greased 8.5 inch pan and baked for an hour as instructed. I ended up leaving it in for an additional fifteen minutes, but chalk it up to the peculiarities of my oven. The smell of cinnamon and cloves reminded me of pumpkin bread or some other kind of spicy, wintry baked deliciousness. Very appropriate for these chilly January days.
The cake emerged looking and smelling more like a quick bread than a cake to me; I’m not entirely sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be or if it’s because I used all-purpose flour. Either way, it was delicious. The mild, faintly tart flavor mixed well with the raisins and spices. Warmed up with a bit of butter, it made a great breakfast, snack, or dessert. I would give it five stars!
When considering historical recipes, perhaps most people think of time measured in centuries, not decades – I know I do. Yet the pace of change can be very fast; it’s interesting to note what has changed and what has not in forty years. Assumptions about common knowledge or available ingredients shift over time, and something that sounds normal at one time seems strange at another – I didn’t know what to expect from tomato soup cake. But the Law Dame who submitted this recipe knew what she was doing! Here’s to trying something (old?) new
Post contributed by Jamie Burns, Isobel Craven Drill Intern, University Archives
The post Tomato Soup Cake (1972) – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Do you remember what you were doing at the end of November in 1980? Ronald Reagan had just been elected, and the Iran Hostage Crisis entered its second year. Kenny Rogers’s timeless serenade “Lady” topped the charts. Audiences were reeling from finding out who shot J.R. And on November 29, 1980, Mike Krzyzewski entered Cameron Indoor Stadium to coach the Blue Devils during their first match up of the season. It was also his first game at Duke as the new head coach.
Their opponents were the Stetson University Hatters, and the first half was a little shaky for both teams. But in the second half the Blue Devils, who included Gene Banks and Kenny Dennard, pulled away for a definitive 67-49 win, thanks to Tom Emma’s shooting. The new coach deemed the game “a good opener,” but suggested that they would need to fill out the team’s ranks in the years to come.
He wasn’t yet Coach K, and the pronunciation of his name wasn’t common knowledge. The court itself wasn’t named for him, and there was no Krzyzewskiville. But it was the first step toward a legendary program, now with an astonishing 926 wins at Duke. Add those to 73 previous wins at Army, and Krzyzewski now stands at 999 career wins.
The November 29, 1980 game film from the Duke University Archives is now available through Duke Digital Collections. The film includes no sound—no color commentary!—because it was made for coaching staff. This film is one of hundreds held by the University Archives, documenting Duke University sports history.
The next men’s basketball game, on Sunday against St. John’s in Madison Square Garden, may be Mike Krzyzewski’s 1000th career win. He will no doubt be crouched on the sidelines, just as he is in this very first Duke outing, leading his team to yet another victory.
Post Contributed by Val Gillispie, University Archivist
We are still digesting the feast that was Wednesday’s Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen tasting event, but the bloating has died down enough for us to be able to share some photos from the celebration!
There was so much eating to be done, but Duke people are very determined people.
Here’s Rubenstein librarian Elizabeth Dunn serving Soldier Soup!
And, to our very great surprise, the Velveeta-creamed corn ring was gone in the first half hour of the event. We’d even made two! We retract any previous skepticism about the appeal of this most excellent “cheese food.”
Of course, we had the historical cookbooks and advertisements that provided the sources for our wonderful recipes out on display (with the stipulation that there could be no simultaneous browsing and eating; goblin sandwich filling would be tough to get off a 1777 cookbook…..).
Our intrepid taste-testers received zines containing all of the recipes and made by Rubenstein Library staff. If you couldn’t make the event, you can download a PDF copy of the zine here: Test-Kitchen-Zine-2014
Thanks to everyone who attended! We’ll have another tasting event—featuring recipes from our next round of test kitchen blog posts—in the late spring!
Tell us a little bit about your new job at the Rubenstein Library!
My job here at the Rubenstein is Technical Services Archivist for University Archives. I’ll be overseeing the processing of University related collections, including the arrangement, description, and preservation of current and new materials, and I’ll also be a part of the Technical Services Management Team. Since I’m new to Duke, I’m really excited to be working with such great collections and knowledgeable colleagues.
How did you become an archivist?
I knew I was interested in archives when I went to library school, but couldn’t have said why until I started working in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives at UNC. I just loved getting to know the materials, seeing the faces and personalities of people from the past, and since I also worked the reference desk in the graduate library, getting to tell people about all the cool stuff I’d found and why they should go see it, too. Getting to work in-depth with collections is what makes this job so great.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve discovered in an archival collection and why?
With a small collection of family photographs, I discovered a gold-plated, decorative set of make-up cases from the 1940s. There was a powder compact with mirror and a lipstick case, and they were beautiful. In collection of family letter from the 18th and 19th century there was a young woman’s dance card from a ball, with a tiny pencil still attached. I love finding the unexpected in collections, especially the things that remind me how much the people who created them were really not very different from us.
What aspect of your new job are you most excited about?
I’m so excited to get to know the collections here. Duke has such rich collections, and the University Archives document the incredibly diverse activities of the University. I’m very excited about diving in and getting to know, then getting to share, what we have.
Tell us something unique about yourself.
I tried a couple of careers before becoming an archivist, and for a short time I lived in Los Angeles and tried out special effects make-up artistry. I worked on a few student films and ultra-low-budget movies, and even though I didn’t do it for long, it was a lot of fun. These days I only use those skills at Halloween, though!
Thanks, Tracy! We’re so glad you’re here!