Back in May of 2016, I had my first attempt at trying to bake from a historical recipe. (You can read about it here.) Over a year later I decided to give it another try, this time with a different recipe. In looking through old cookbooks, I stumbled across a Swiss Cake in an 1881 copy of Betty, the bishop’s lady, or, Choice receipts from experienced housewives, published in Newark, New Jersey.
The description that reads, “This makes a good and inexpensive cake” really sold me. The ingredients seemed normal for a cake recipe and they were all things that I had home. It was perfect.
I collected my ingredients and measured them out as the recipe stated. The recipe states to flavor with nutmeg or lemon, however, I am not a fan of nutmeg on its own so I added one and a half teaspoons of cinnamon and a fourth of a teaspoon of nutmeg.
I creamed my butter and sugar, added my eggs and condensed milk, then slowly incorporated my sifted flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
It was at this point that I realized my 21st century baking skills did not translate well to 1880’s baking. My batter was thick, too thick to be a cake batter, but resembled cookie dough instead.
The recipe called for “sweet milk,” in my modern mind that meant condensed milk, which is what I used. But it turns out that “sweet milk” is just whole milk. In older recipes “sweet milk” was used to differentiate from “sour milk” meaning milk that was left out to sour or in some cases it meant buttermilk.
The “batter” was made, it tasted good, but it did not seem like it would bake well as a cake. I tested this theory by making a few mini-cupcakes. After 10 minutes of baking they were still raw on the inside, after 15 minutes of baking they were cooked though, but were rather dense and not very enjoyable.
Since the “batter” seemed more like cookie dough to me, I made them into cookies instead. They baked in 13 minutes, were soft, and rather delicious. While I did not end up with Swiss Cake, I did get some enjoyable cookies. Maybe my next attempt at historical baking will be more successful.
Swiss Cake Cookies
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour – sifted
8 oz condensed milk
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Set oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together sugar and butter.
Add eggs and condensed milk to the sugar and butter.
Combine sifted flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly add to wet ingredients.
Once well combined, drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes, rotating halfway though.
In February 2017 Rutgers University announced that it will name an apartment building on its historic New Brunswick campus after the abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth (c.1797-1883). The decision followed research findings, published in Scarlet and Black: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History, that Sojourner Truth had been enslaved as a child to members of the family of Rutgers’ first president Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh (1736–1790). However, Sojourner Truth–who was born with the name Isabella–never lived in New Jersey but grew up in Ulster County, New York. She was born enslaved to Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh’s brother, Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. (1729-1799), after whose death she and her family became the property of his son Charles. Johannes Jr. has been confused with his father, Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh (1706-1786), a founding trustee of Queens (later Rutgers) College. Not only did they share a name and lived in Hurley, near Kingston. Both also had a son named “Charles” and served as “Colonel” in the Revolutionary War.
The narrative of Sojourner Truth: “Colonel Ardinburgh”
Sojourner Truth, who never learned to read or write, dictated her life’s story to fellow abolitionist Olive Gilbert (1801-1884), which was published as the Narrative of Sojourner Truth in 1850. According to Gilbert (who spelled the names that Truth provided as she heard them), Isabella was “the daughter of James and Betsey, slaves of one Colonel Ardinburgh, Hurley, Ulster County, New York.” After his death, Isabella, her parents, and “ten or twelve other fellow human chattels” became the legal property of his son Charles. Not older than two when her first owner died, Truth only remembered her second master. When he died too, she was about nine years old and was auctioned off to John Neely, a storekeeper who lived in the area. Her new master severely beat her because of her inability to understand orders. Having been raised in a Dutch Reformed household, she had only learned to speak the language of her masters: Dutch.
“That class of people called Low Dutch”
According to the Narrative Isabella’s first two owners “belonged to that class of people called Low Dutch.” These people were descendants of Dutch Reformed families who had emigrated from the Netherlands (the “Low Countries”) in the 17th century and settled in New York and New Jersey. Uninhibited by their Dutch Reformed faith, they farmed their lands with the help of enslaved blacks, like their English-speaking neighbors. (Read about the farm ledgers of Johannes G. Hardenbergh). In 1707 the grandfather of Sojourner Truth’s owner, also named Johannes Hardenbergh (1670–1745), had purchased a tract of two million acres of land in the Catskill Mountains from a leader of the Esopus Indians. For this land (spread across today’s Ulster, Sullivan and Delaware Counties) Hardenbergh and six others were granted a patent in 1708, which became known as the “Hardenbergh Patent.” By the time of the first federal census of 1790, fifteen heads of Ulster households had the name “Hardenbergh,” of whom ten listed enslaved people. Advertisements for runaway slaves in the Hudson River Valley (including three from members of the Hardenbergh family) indicate that many slaves spoke Dutch as well as English. Sojourner Truth herself always kept a distinct low-Dutch accent, and never had the Southern black accent that the white abolitionist Francis Gage gave her when publishing the speech that became known as “Ain’t I a Woman?” (compare this speech, written 12 years after the original speech, with a more authentic version).
Col. Johannes Hardenbergh (1706-1786), Rosendale, Hurley
As can be seen in Myrtle Hardenbergh Miller’s The Hardenberg family; a genealogical compilation (1958) many male members in the Hardenbergh family inherited the name of the Hardenbergh patriarch in Ulster County. Miller makes a clear distinction between the older Colonel and the younger Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh (1729-1799), the owner of Sojourner Truth. But the older Colonel Hardenbergh (1706-1786) was more famous: he was a field officer under George Washington in the Continental Army, and served in New York’s Colonial Assembly. He lived with his family in “Rosendale,” a house with many rooms as well as slave quarters, formerly owned by his grandfather Colonel Jacob Rutsen. The house, in which Colonel Hardenbergh entertained Washington in 1782 and 1783, burned down in 1911. In the New York Census of Slaves of 1755 Hardenbergh is listed as living in Hurley owning six slaves, which made him one of the largest slaveholders in the county. In 1844 Hurley’s town boundaries changed, however, and the house became part of the newly formed town Rosendale. (View a map of Ulster county, 1829)
Col. Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. (1729-1799), Swartekill, Hurley
Like his brothers and sisters, Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh was born in the family home “Rosendale.” He left home when he was around seventeen years old to prepare for the ministry at the home of John Frelinghuysen (1727-54), a young prominent Dutch Reformed minister, who served five congregations in central New Jersey, and lived in what is now known as the “Old Dutch Parsonage” in Somerville. When Frelinghuysen unexpectedly died in 1754 the young Hardenbergh took over the five pulpits. He married Frelinghuysen’s much older widow, the pietist Dina van Bergh (1725–1807) in 1756 and was ordained to the ministry in 1758. Whether he also retained the three slaves (including a child), whom Dina had inherited according to her first husband’s will, is not known. But they did have at least one slave at the parsonage: in a letter from Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh, written (in Dutch) to his father in 1777, he wrote that he had to hurry “because the negro is getting ready to go” (“wijl de neger gereet maakt om af te gaan“).
In 1781 Hardenbergh was called by the congregations of Marbletown, Rochester, and Wawarsing in Ulster county, and left New Jersey to move back into his parental home “Rosendale” with his family. He returned to New Jersey in 1786 to serve as minister in New Brunswick and president of Queen’s College. Whether he maintained any enslaved people during these last four years of his life we do not know. There are no slaves mentioned in his will.
On April 6, 1917, one hundred years ago, the United States entered The Great War (as it was known then) or the First World War (as we know it today). New Jersey contributed 72,946 draftees and 46,960 volunteers—with more than 140,000 serving by the war’s end—for the final seventeen months of the war. Although the Garden State is teeming with over 160 memorials dedicated to the brave individuals who served in the Great War, their names were largely forgotten until recently. In this blog post we will feature two of these long forgotten New Jersey heroes, using materials from the Rutgers College War Service Bureau and the Terradell Family Papers at the Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives. These materials, along with many other one-of-a-kind artifacts, are currently on display in “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken!”: New Jersey in the Great War.
With a growing number of Rutgers men in Uncle Sam’s olive drab, Earl Reed Silvers (RC 1913) established the Rutgers College War Service Bureau (RCWSB) in August 1917 to keep the 800 men in service up to date with frequent news of the college and each other. “As far as can be ascertained, no college or university in the United States kept in such close touch with her alumni and undergraduates in the army or navy,” reflected Silvers, “nor has any college the mass of material, war letters and relics, which were sent to old Rutgers by her appreciative sons.”
Counted among the alumni who corresponded with Silvers and the RCWSB was Theodore “Theo” Rosen (1895-1940), Rutgers College Class of 1916, who served as First Lieutenant in the 315th Infantry, 79th Division.
Creeping and crawling toward the German line in search of a machine gun nest on the early morning of November 4, 1918, Rosen found himself in the path of fire. One bullet rendered his right arm useless; the other tore through his left cheek, filling his mouth with blood and taking out seven teeth. The 23-year-old would lose the top of his left thumb, break his left wrist, have his right arm amputated, and suffer impaired hearing and vision before the onslaught was over. He only recovered consciousness as a P.O.W. on the operating table at Longwy, where he remained prisoner for the eight days before the Armistice in November 1918. Commendation letters in Rosen’s RCWSB file stressed Rosen’s status as a medical marvel thanks to a “masterpiece of surgery.” Noting his “gallantry in action and meritorious services,” Rosen garnered high praise from a department dealing with the paperwork for nearly 4 million American troops.
Following his early death, the war hero’s perseverance and valiance was preserved in the sole issue of Real Heroes (1941) in a comic entitled “The Man Who Wouldn’t Be Licked!” In short, Rosen’s story truly gives new meaning to the phrase “mind over matter.”
Click to read the complete details of Rosen’s “Remarkable Story” from the RCWSB’s Selected Letters, which Earl Reed Silvers intended to turn into a book.
But for every story of Great War survival, there are hundreds of stories of heroes who never made it back home to New Jersey. Counted in the tally of the 3,836 New Jerseyans lost to combat, accident, and disease, was Trentonian Russell “Russ” J. Terradell (1897-1918), whose story is housed in the Terradell Family Papers.
Around a week after Rosen fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Emma L. Terradell tore open this six-page letter from her son, Private Russell Terradell, 61st Regiment, 5th Division. According to Dr. Richard Grippaldi of Rutgers University, such final “just in case” letters were written by soldiers to their families on the eve of battle since the early days of the Civil War, and remain a custom in combat units to this day.
Slain-in-action on October 17th 1918, Terradell’s begins with the introductory understatement, “To the dearest of Mothers, When this reaches you you will know that I have passed over, Mother I know how horribly upset you will be over this and that the scar will always remain.” The 21-year-old patriotically justified his death as he attempted to console his family, “But we shall live forever in the results of our efforts. I did not make much of my life before the war but I believe I have done so now. Often one hears ‘Poor fellow cut off so young without ever having a chance of knowing and enjoying life.’ But for myself thanks for all you have done for me. I have crowded into twenty-one years enough pleasures and experiences of a lifetime, and that is why it is no hardship for me to leave this world so young.” The wrinkled onionskin paper still bears the marks of his mother’s tears one hundred years later, and I dare you not to get a bit choked up over this difficult-to-read letter.
If you’re interested in learning more about New Jersey servicemen like Rosen and Terradell, please check out our latest exhibition, “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken!”: New Jersey in the Great War. On display through September 15, 2017 in Alexander Library. Curator’s tours are available byappointment, please email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visitors to our new website may recognize the image in the top right corner as the yellowed pencil sketch in our recent exhibit Rutgers through the Centuries. Nothing is known about the artist C.C. Abeel, but we do know the original lithograph on which his drawing is based: J.H. Bufford’s View of the City of New Brunswick, N.J. taken from the Rail Road Hotel at East Brunswick. The lithograph, which can be found in our Pictorial Collection, was published about 1838 with a helpful list of the sites depicted. In this blog post we will have a closer look.
The railroad and the Rail Road Hotel
The Railroad Hotel was established shortly after the opening of the railroad from Jersey City to New Brunswick by the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company in 1836. The line ended at the terminus on the eastern bank of the Raritan River in what was known as East Brunswick (now Highland Park). Passengers to New Brunswick had to go down steep stairs from the tracks and take a carriage across the Albany Street bridge. Some passengers, however, went to the Railroad hotel instead, advertised as “a most desirable retreat during the summer months” for its “beautiful location” (right). It was from this hotel that the young artist and lithographer John Henry Bufford (1810-1870) drew his View of New Brunswick shortly after the building of the railroad bridge, which put an end to the East Brunswick terminus.
The Raritan River and sloop canal
As Jeanne Kolva and Joanne Pisciotta describe in Highland Park: Borough of Homesthe new two-tier railroad bridge, which carried pedestrians, carriages and wagons on its lower level, caused competition for the old Albany Street bridge. The wooden toll bridge, built in 1794 (#2 on the left), was left to deteriorate and was ultimately demolished in 1848. Parallel to the Raritan (#1) on the New Brunswick side of the river was the newly dug Delaware & Raritan Canal or, in Bufford’s words, “Sloop Canal” (#4). One of the major engineering feats of the era, it was created between 1830 and 1834 for three million dollars, dug by immigrants, mainly by hand. Canal boats carrying freight were towed by mules along the canal, but in Bufford’s lithograph there are only one-masted sailboats (sloops). To complete the picture of New Brunswick as a transportation hub, Bufford drew a steamboat from New York, one of the many managed by Cornelius Vanderbilt or one of his competitors (#3).
Railroad bridge and view to the right
The new bridge, built in 1838, was the first railroad bridge across the Raritan river. Bufford’s depiction of the lower tier (#7) makes the noise and darkness experienced by passengers and horses easy to imagine. To the north of the new railway bridge was the canal lock that allowed boats to move from the upper to the lower level of the Raritan & Delaware Canal at New Brunswick.
Bufford drew the canal lock as well as structures that he listed as “Water Works & Mill seats” (#8). Maps of New Brunswick from our Map Collection shed light on what Bufford depicted. While a map of 1837 only displays the water power plant behind the lock, a later map reveals an adjoining saw mill and paper and cotton factory. In the distance Bufford drew Rutgers College, founded as “Queens College” in 1766 (#9). The first cornerstone of the building, presently known as “Old Queens,” was laid in 1809 but it was only expanded to its present size in 1825 after financial support was received from various sources, including the philanthropist Henry Rutgers, who also donated the college’s bell.
Admiring the view
As described inViews and Viewmakers of Urban America businesses greatly benefited from the portrayal of their cities as bustling centers of industry, commerce, and progress. In stark contrast with the novelties of the canal, railroad, and bridge is the tranquility of the scene at the front. Seated on a tree trunk is a company of wanderers (5), admiring the view, which includes the sloops on the canal (#4) and the spires of the Dutch Reformed Church (6, left) and Christ Episcopal Church (6, right). On the left is a horse rider following the path along the river; on the right we see a man and a dog, hunting birds. They all look like they will soon have refreshments at the Railroad Hotel.
Earlier this month, we challenged the students in Dr. Lena Struwe’s Byrne Seminar on Food Evolution to dig into a fraction of our holdings concerning culinary history, recipes, cookbooks and global food exchange. Below are some highlights from materials we pulled for the class.
An herbal is a compilation of information about medicinal plants including their botanical identifiers, habitats, therapeutic effects on the body, and medicinal preparation. All herbals follow the same pattern: for this condition, take this plant, prepare it in a certain manner, administer it, and expect this result. Throughout Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, herbs might not have been ranked high on the European gastronomic table, but they were well-established remedies, and with the help of herbal recipes the cook was expected to keep a household healthy.
Written by one of the most respected plant experts of his time, John Gerard’s thick tome, The Herball Or, Generall Historie of Plantes (ca. 1633) included the first descriptions printed in English of New World imports like potatoes, corn, yucca, and squash.
Notably, The Herball contains images that would have been the first that most English speakers would have seen of the potato. Although the plant was brought to England in 1586, it was not until the early eighteenth century when the potato finally became a staple in the European diet. Ahead of his time, Gerard commended potatoes as a “wholesome” food, best prepared “either rosted in the embers, or boyled and eaten with oyle, vinegar and pepper.”
To illustrate The Herball, publisher John Norton rented nearly 1,800 of the most accurate illustrations of the time, woodblocks from the Frankfurt publisher of the “father of German botany,” Jacobus Theodorus’ Eicones Plantarum (ca. 1590). Norton commissioned sixteen additional woodcuts of plants. Among the edible imports was an illustration of the potato, supposedly illustrated from a specimen grown in Gerard’s garden that was given to him by Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake.
The French Cook: A System of Fashionable and Economical Cookery (ca. 1822) was perhaps the most extravagant work on French cookery published in England up to that time. By the eighteenth century, French food had been clearly established as the most popular type of cuisine in Great Britain. As was typical for the time, the author modified French techniques, Anglicized recipes while keeping French terminology, and equated French food with expense and extravagance throughout the introductions and commentary framing the recipes.
Such cookbooks targeted Britain’s middle classes, who desired fashionable displays of wealth and sophistication, straight from the mouth of the former cook to Louis XVI and the Earl of Sefton, and steward to the Duke of York. In a world that was becoming increasingly globalized, cookbooks meant that it was easier than ever to create an enviable lifestyle. Industrious Brits could serve an elaborate wild boar pie based on Ude’s pastry patterns, creations that epitomized Britain’s nobility—the ultimate expression of a life of wealth and ease. If you flip through its pages, you will surely notice how this book was written for English “gentlemen” and “ladies,” terms which became associated with a specific type of attitude, wealth and sophistication rather than family history.
In contrast to the male “food artists” coming out of France, women who wanted to establish a professional presence as a cookbook author framed their books by drawing on experience as wives, mothers, and housekeepers. Relegated by feminine stereotypes, female cookbook authors sold themselves as experts in all matters of the household, not just as cooks. As women ventured into this male-dominated realm, cookbooks slowly evolved into manuals of instruction for amateur cooks and housekeepers to maintain hearth, home, and familial values.
Late to the gastronomic game, Americans only began publishing cookbooks in 1742. Nearby New York and Philadelphian publishers cornered the market until New Jersey’s first cookbook, Economical Cookery: Designed to Assist the Housekeeper in Retrenching Her Expenses, by the Exclusion of Spiritous Liquors from Her Cookery (ca. 1839). It was written by an anonymous female author who urged women to take an active part in the Temperance Movement by eliminating liquors from their cooking and thereby safeguard their families from “the debasing slavery” of alcoholism.
Among her booze-free recipes is election cake, a culinary creation dating back to 1660 that makes the rounds every election. Originating from when food and “ardent spirits” were persuasive agents for controlling local votes, both were dispensed lavishly as bribes and rewards. Be sure to check out NPR’s coverage, “A History of Election Cake and Why Bakers Want to #MakeAmericaCakeAgain,” complete with audio!
The collection includes privately and commercially produced recipe books, typically written for women. Among the commercial ones is a recipe book from the New Jersey based Campbell Soup Company, published in 1910 for “the ambitious housewife, confronted daily with the necessity of catering to the capricious appetites of her household.” The booklet has menu suggestions for every day of the month, with a Campbell soup as one of the courses for lunch or dinner or both. Another Campbell recipe book, shown above, addresses not only the women of the 1950s, but also future consumers: teenage girls. The section “Teen time menus” includes cheerful references to marching band practice, babysitting jobs, and being “happy as a clam.”
A great number of the non-commercial recipe books are produced by women communities of various denominations, often for fundraising purposes. One of the more unusual ones is the Cook Book of the Stars, printed in 1959 by a Flemington chapter of the Freemason society “Order of the Eastern Star,” which ended its list of recipes–tongue-in-cheek–with a recipe “how to preserve a husband” (displayed on top).
Newbold family account books
A more unusual place for New Jersey recipes is one of the five farm account books, kept by Thomas Newbold (1760-1823) at Springfield township, Burlington County, and his son Thomas Jr. The first three of the volumes, which altogether span almost eighty years (1790-1877) are “day books:” daily accounts and memoranda of transactions and agreements that were later transferred to ledgers. Among the regular entries on the last few pages of the first day book are a few recipes for dishes and remedies for cures, jotted down in different hands, either from Newbold family members or customers visiting the farm. The food recipes include calves feet jelly, puff paste, bologna sausage, and cured ham, while the remaining recipes are remedies for dysentery, cancer sores, felons (finger infections) and botts in horses (a disease caused by botfly maggots in a a horse’s intestines or stomach).
Whether looking for recipes or remedies, visitors are always welcome to browse the collections at Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives. Bon appetit!
The New Brunswick Music Scene Archive will mark its one-year anniversary with a panel discussion and exhibit from 6 to 8 p.m. on October 27, 2016 at Alexander Library.
Panelists include Brandon Stosuy, editor in chief of Kickstarter’s The Creative Independent and former editor at Pitchfork; Amy Saville, vocalist and
guitarist of New Brunswick-based Prosolar Mechanics and author of the Hub City Romance series; Kelli Kalikas, studio co-owner and show promoter at In the West recording studio in New Brunswick; and John Terry, former New Brunswick basement show promoter, record label owner, and musician. The event is free and open to the public.
Search all across the country and you are unlikely to find many research collections like the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive. In fact, only a handful of other academic institutions nationwide have begun to preserve in their archives the musical history of their local communities. But a collection such as this seems perfectly fitted to the Hub City, where acts such as Screaming Females and the Gaslight Anthem got their starts in underground venues before moving on to national and international stages.
Since its inaugural symposium last October, the archive has been enthusiastically received by those with connections to the New Brunswick music scene.
“There was a groundswell of interest,” said Christie Lutz, the archive’s co-founder and New Jersey regional studies librarian for Special Collections and University Archives. “We received many, many emails from people who wanted to donate material or share their stories from when they were involved with music in New Brunswick.”
Sometimes a flyer would arrive in the mail without warning or someone would drop by the library unannounced with a handful of records to donate. But many items—patches from the jacket of Ronen Kauffman, author of New Brunswick, New Jersey, Goodbye; or a series of elaborate zine mailers published by the Court Tavern in its heyday—came as a surprise for other reasons.
“These were unexpected because the nature of the materials makes them unlikely to be found in other archives or simply because we had no idea they even existed,” noted Frank Bridges, a doctoral student and part-time lecturer at Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information, who partnered with Lutz to establish the archive. “Ultimately, they help paint a fuller picture of a vibrant era in the city’s history.”
Lutz hopes that the anniversary symposium will build on the momentum the archive has enjoyed since its launch and deepen the conversation around both the collection and the scene.
“This year’s panelists represent very different perspectives than last year’s. Amy can speak to being a woman in a male-dominated scene in the 90s and to writing fiction about New Brunswick. Brandon has done a host of things from running a label to promoting bands, but his roots trace back to his days at Rutgers, DJing at WRSU and editing Inside Beat. And Kelli can speak about running a studio in the city—who comes in to record? How is she perceived as a woman doing this job?”
And while the process of formally accessioning, arranging, and describing the materials is a long one, Lutz already sees a number of opportunities for research and further programming. She imagines a digital humanities project that maps points of interest across the city, examinations of women and people of color in the scene, or collaborations with other special collections in the state to tell the story of New Jersey music more broadly.
“I’m excited to see what the future has in store,” she said.
Two-hundred and twelve years ago today, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr faced each other in a duel on the cliffs of Weehawken, New Jersey.
Among our Sinclair New Jersey Collection holdings, we have a handful of postcard views and other images depicting the Weehawken dueling grounds, which have seen some changes over the years. The 1810 image below depicts a bucolic scene, with boats gliding by on the Hudson River.
This postcard, mailed in 1919, features the boulder on which Alexander Hamilton purportedly rested his head after being mortally wounded by Burr. The site depicted here is not the precise site of the duel, however. The boulder was moved from its original spot to make way for train tracks. And today, the bust of Hamilton sits upon a pedestal, with the boulder sitting behind it.
While Alexander Hamilton himself has been the focus of recent interest, Special Collections and University Archives also holds the X-Burr Collection, a collection of books on Aaron Burr that were donated to Rutgers by the Aaron Burr Society. Below is the title page from one of the books in the collection, authored shortly after the duel by Lysander, the pseudonym of federal judge Willam P. Van Ness. Van Ness was a friend of Burr’s who served as his second in the duel.
I have always enjoyed cookbooks. I even wrote a whole blog post about it back in November of 2015. I will post pictures of cookbooks to our Instagram page on occasion. But on one Wednesday morning in April I asked a simple question to our Instagram followers, “Is #WhatsCookinWednesday a thing?” The community of libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies quickly insisted we make this a challenge. (The #LibrariesOfInstagram community likes to challenge other repositories to post pictures of different things each month.) The month of May became a Library Feast (#LibraryFeast). To add to the challenge, it was suggested that people try to make a recipe from a cookbook in their collection.
I wandered the Special Collections and University Archives closed stacks to see what cookbook I could find. I stumbled upon Salute to New Jersey : a collection of original New Jersey recipes and historical anecdotes. Intrigued by the title, I flipped though the pamphlet to find a recipe entitled Dey Mansion Orange Cake. I enjoy baking and I thought that since Colonel Theunis Dey (the man whose family owned the Dey Mansion) was also a signer of the Queen’s College charter; this would be the perfect recipe to try with a nice hint of Rutgers history.
The recipe looked simple enough, though there was no size indicated for the pan, no baking temperature listed, and I was not sure I could buy mace for cooking. (To my surprise, mace is a common enough spice that it can be purchased at the local grocery store.) Three attempts later, I finally made a fully cooked Dey Mansion Orange Cake. I made a few changes to the recipe. Here is my version of Dey Mansion Orange Cake:
1 stick of butter
1 cup white sugar
1 medium orange
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg (or mace)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon orange juice
1 cup craisins (or raisins)
1 cup powdered sugar
Bake in a 9 x 13 greased pan at 350 for 30(-ish) minutes
1) Cream together 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of sugar
2) Add 2 eggs
3) Add 1 finely chopped, medium-sized orange (I added the juice that came out of the orange)
4) Alternate adding sifted flour mix (2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon nutmeg (original recipe calls for mace), 1/2 teaspoon salt) and milk (1 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of orange juice)
5) Add 1 cup of craisins (or raisins)
When finished, remove from pan. While hot, spread glaze on top.
For glaze, 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup of orange juice whisked together