Thursday, March 31, 2011

Your Family's Food Tradtions Wanted for a New Book

The following is a press release about a new book from F & W Media, the same publishers that bring you Family Tree Magazine. Typically, I don't post press releases but this one is different.  It's is about a book that I am writing.

I am very excited about this different look at our ancestor's lives and hope that you will consider telling your family's food story.

March 31, 2011

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jacqueline Musser
(513) 531-2690 x 11467 or

Share Recipes and Traditions for a New Family Tree Book

Food is a key ingredient in every family’s history: Dad’s Saturday morning pancakes, the marzipan Granny served every Christmas, the spaghetti sauce recipe passed down from your Sicilian great-great-grandmother. Family Tree Books wants to know about your family’s food traditions—we’re collecting short essays for a book to be published in spring 2012. We’ll select 8 submissions to feature in the book based on these criteria:

  • Submissions should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
  • Essays should tell the story of a real tradition, specifically:
o  What is the tradition?
o  Who started it and when?
o  What cultural or regional background does the dish or tradition represent? (for example, is it a US regional specialty or a product of your ancestry in Germany, Sweden, Mexico, etc.?)
o  What does the tradition mean to you and your family?
  • Submissions should include a recipe described in the story and a family photo—of the original chef, people described in the story or yourself. (Pictures of the dish itself may be submitted but likely will not be published.)

To enter: E-mail your essay to with the subject line: Family Food Traditions no later than July 13, 2011. To be considered, submissions must adhere to the following specifications:
  • Essays in Microsoft Word (.doc or .rft) or plain-text format. Do not paste your essay into the body of an email.
  • Photos in JPG or TIFF format, 300 dpi or higher resolution.
  • Name, mailing address, phone number and email address given in email message and within the essay.

By submitting, you acknowledge that your entry is your original, previously unpublished work, and you give F+W Media, Inc., permission to use your submission in all print and electronic media. Submitters of chosen essays will be notified via email by September 13, 2011, and receive a copy of the book after publication in May 2012.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Food Friday: Chocolate and Tomatoes

One way to market a food brand or an appliance is to provide a cookbook with purchase or as a premium.  You probably have a few of these sitting around your house. The last one we received was in the packaging of our outdoor grill.

While a cookbook for an outdoor grill will have everyday favorites, some cookbooks for food products in years gone by included, let's say, imaginative ways to use the food product. Obviously, the more ways you convince someone they can use a food product the more likely you are to sell large quantities of that food product.

As I was reading The Food Chronology by James Trager I came across an interesting way to incorporate a candy bar into a side dish. The Oh Henry! candy bar company distributed a free cookbook in the early 1920s.  One of the dishes was Oh Henry! Stuffed Tomatoes. This dish included two Oh! Henry candy bars, three tomatoes, mayo, lettuce and salt. I found a food blogger, the Candy Professor, who posted the recipe and instructions should you want to serve this for your Easter buffet.

Trager also writes that the one of the other recipes is Oh Henry! Surprise Pie.  Boy I would sure like to know what that was.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What Have New York Restaurants Served Historically?

Restaurant menus can tell us a lot about a historical period. They provide another look at what people ate that can be different than what we find in cookbooks. Eating out would have been out of necessity (like when you travel) or for a special occasion, unless the person was wealthy.

Digitized collections give researchers easier access to materials that may not be studied as much if it was not digitized. Recently the New York Public Library has announced that they are digitizing more than 40,000 menus dating back to 1843 from the city's restaurants.

The New York Post has an article about this project here.  You can currently search the New York Public Library digitized American Menu Collection. Consider menus as a way to add social history to your family history narrative.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What is Ephemera?

One of the questions I am asked when I present to audiences is what the word "ephemera" means.  Ephemera is something that genealogists and historians deal with quite a bit but may not know that there is a word to describe it.

Ephemera is generally some type of printed matter that was not meant to be kept or archived. There are many items that have genealogical or historical value that fit this description. Greeting cards, posters, menus, tickets, receipts are all ephemera.

Our ancestor's hand written recipes, newspaper clippings and some cookbooks may also not have meant to be archived and last generations. However, when they do last they provide an important snapshot of our ancestor's day to day life.

While ephemera may be a home source it may also be archived at a museum, library or archive. To learn more about ephemera see the website for the Ephemera Society of America.