As one way to celebrate Archives Month, some of the folks in the library volunteered to make recipes found in some of our manuscript collections. This post comes courtesy of the lovely Ms. Dee from our awesome Acquisitions and Technical Services Department. These are the people who bring you the wonderful, descriptive entries on Alaska’s Digital Archives. It’s difficult to do our work without support from them and their fantastic indexing skills.
The Sharpe Diaries also include such gems as the picture below, which shows what looks like a child’s writing exercises. Some things haven’t changed all that much since the 1880s and early 1900s. Read on to hear Ms. Dee talk about her experience with an old soup recipe from the E.C. Sharpe Diaries.
Page from Sharpe diary with children’s writing.
E.C. Sharpe Diaries, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Find it in Star Archives.
I chose to make the Spinach Soup recipe seen below, and transcribed as this:
Put the spinach onto
[stove?] with a tiny bit
of water. [Stew?] for
1/2 hour. Then push
through a sieve. Then
add milk – salt –
pepper – ___ – chicken
So, basically, three ingredients and two spices comprise this recipe. I wonder what made this concoction recipe-worthy to the person who wrote these simple steps down? What could have been forgotten in making up this dish? I looked over this itty bitty recipe in wonder over its simplicity.
Page from Sharpe diary with Spinach Soup recipe. E.C. Sharpe Diaries, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Find it in Star Archives.
Started with the main ingredient, the spinach. A whole plastic bin’s worth of it in all its full leaf majesty before it was sauteed down to a shapeless mound of shriveled and shrunk leaves.
Fresh spinach leaves.
Following the recipe directions, I added in milk (I chose unsweetened almond milk).
Hmmm, it appears more like a spinach cereal than soup. If I added the chicken the recipe called for, it would be kicked up a notch to chicken spinach cereal.
Because I’m a vegetarian, and because chicken spinach cereal sounds gross, I didn’t add animals parts to this bowl of swimming spinach leaves. But I couldn’t leave as is either. Just look at this sad milky bowl of greens. I couldn’t force myself to eat of this unappetizing dish.
Not so appetizing yet…
So I busted out the blender, and gave it a good whirl.Look at how spinach cereal transforms in all its bright green glory into a blended soup!
Dee busts out the blender…
…and ends up with something new.
To give it some substance and let’s face it, this bowl of green stuff needed some serious flavor enhancement, I added in a pile of sauteed mushrooms., and garnished it with some crumbled cashews for crunch.
My first foray into blended soups, and it was a good one. In fact, the transformation is a bit stunning. This neon-green, creamy bisque all dolled up in mushrooms and cashews turned out to be quite handsome, quite sophisticated. A spinach soup star was born from the humblest of recipes. It was delicious.
Dee took this old recipe and re-imagined it for a modern audience. Nice work Dee!
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