Elizabeth Borst White knows cookbooks! Twenty-five years ago, recognizing the unique window into cultural history that they provide, Ms. White began a collection that now contains nearly 1,600 volumes. Recently retired after nearly 40 years as a librarian for the Houston Academy of Medicine–Texas Medical Center Library, White understands the value of her Texas cookbook collection as a historical resource and has pledged to donate her materials to The Texas Collection, significantly enriching our already wide assortment of resources in this area. In addition, Elizabeth White has generously established the Biscuits and Gravy Endowed Fund–a permanent endowment that provides funding for future purchases and preservation of the cookbook collection.
White says that her favorite types of cookbooks are “community cookbooks with lots of advertisements for local businesses” because they “give the reader a good picture of the community at that time. We just do not see advertisements for rifles and ammunition, or corsets and ladies’ hats in cookbooks today.”
Here’s a small taste of the delights you can find in the Elizabeth Borst White Texas Culinary Collection:
- “Treasure Pots,” The Austin Woman’s Club, 1940 which includes recipes for Salmagundi Dressing, Admiration Pie, and ‘Possum and Sweet Taters.
- What’s Cooking in Our Swedish-American Kitchens, Central Methodist Church, Austin, c.1951, with Wienerbrod (Coffee Bread), Kroppkakor (Potato Dumplings with Pork), and Brysseikax (Iced Box Cookies). Also Tuna Noodles and Tamale Pie.
- Portrait of A. Fillmore, author of one of the first cook books by an African-American chef, The Lone Star Cook Book and Meat Special (From the Slaughter Pen to the Dining Room Table), Hotel Lubbock, 1929.
- Advertisement for Kitchen Queen’s Baking Powder (“Healthful and efficient.”) and J.E. Grant Fine Wall Papers (“Don’t paper your house like everybody’s house.”) from the Waxahachie Cook Book, 1902 .
- Advertisements for Miss Julia A. Hillyer, Teacher of Piano, and Kauffman Vehicles (“Would be pleased to figure with you if in need of a good Vehicle.”) also from the Waxahachie Cook Book, 1902.
The Texas Culinary Collection is a fascinating look into the kitchens of the past. These cookbooks help us understand the history of the organizations that authored them, and the daily lives of the chefs and homemakers whose recipes they contain. They remind us of businesses and products no longer available, and of trendy foods no longer in fashion. Come in and sample the collection for some great reading and great cooking!
–AO & AWC