Episode 188: Fannie Merritt Farmer

Posted 13 November 2021 by
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Fannie Farmer circa 1900, around the time that she started her own school.

For a woman who taught generations of people to cook…she’s often forgotten. But this cook, teacher, administrator, author, and businesswoman has a lot to teach all of us, and not just about cooking!

Fannie Merritt Farmer was born on March 23, 1857, in Boston Massachusetts. She would live her entire life in the Boston area, but her mark was left around the world. Although her parents, John and Mary Watson Merritt Farmer strongly believed in education for their girls, Fannie’s proper schooling ended before she could even graduate high school. A debilitating illness left her left leg paralyzed, but a gift for cooking and a charming and encouraging personality set her life on another path.

At the age of 31, she enrolled in the Boston Cooking School, graduated, was asked to stay and teach…and in just a few short years she had worked up to principal of the school that taught cooks to, well, cook. One of the first things she did was take the textbook, written in the early 1880s by the then principal, Mrs. Mary Lincoln, and reworked it. Gone were the generalized instructions for measuring ingredients (seriously? How much is a pinch? A handful?) Fannie replaced those with exact measurements using tools that were already available but not often purchased: measuring cups and spoons. Like the original, there was a heavy dose of science to the book, showing anyone who read it what food did for a person’s body but Fannie loved to eat so cooking wasn’t just the science to her, there was art and enjoyment.

In the episode, we go into the history of the Boston Cooking School, the Domestic Science movement, and several of the women who helped both become established.

Shortly after the publication of Fannie’s The Boston Cooking School Cookbook was published in 1896, 40-year-old Fannie opened her own school in Boston that not only offered classes for cooks, but also for nurses, dieticians, and many classes for housewives.

 

Fannie followed her original book, renamed The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, with several more books that were all globally successful. Fannie continued to lecture up until 10 days before a major stroke ended her life on January 15, 1915.

Her legacy lived on in kitchens around the world, and generations of people who learned to cook with her exacting directions and love of her materials.

 

Time Travel With The History Chicks

Books!

By Laura Shapiro (if you can find it and get it when you need it.)

 

By Chris Kimball, also a lovely documentary you can watch for a couple of bucks on Prime.

Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cookbook, online

The Boston Cooking School Cookbook (the 1896 Grandmama of cookbooks)

Chafing Dish Possibilities

Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent is also digitized for your reading pleasure.

What to Have for Dinner

Web!

Her Overlooked No More obituary from the New York Times

An article on, and recipes from Fannie’s Last Supper by Christoper Kimball

Moving Pictures!

Fannie’s Last Supper is on Amazon Prime Streaming for $1.99. It’s fun. Nerdy.

 

****RECOMMENDATION LIST UNDER CONSTRUCTION, COME BACK LATER FOR MORE!****

Episode 187: Elizabeth Báthory, Revisited

Posted 31 October 2021 by
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The only original painting of her disappeared, this is a copy of that painting done when she was about 25.

Happy Halloween! This woman’s life story is the greatest (and definitely the creepiest) mystery we’ve ever discussed! Elizabeth Báthory: Cold, blooded serial killer, or misrepresented and framed, innocent noble? Maybe both? That’s what made her story so fascinating to so many people for so many years! The truth may never be realized, but even if it is, it’s so much fun to speculate about it, and perfect for Halloween!

Snag all the good candy from anyone’s bucket and settle in for a spooky tale that left us with one solid realization: We don’t care for the gore–there is a huge Little Ears warning on this one!

Time Travel With The History Chicks

For all the recommendations and things we discussed on this episode, click on over to our original coverage:

Elizabeth Báthory  

Episode 186: Happy I Love Lucy Day!

Posted 15 October 2021 by
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Lucille, circa 1976

 

Today, October 15th, 2021 is National I Love Lucy Day- a day devoted to celebrating the iconic life and work of Lucille Ball! We thought a good way to honor her would be to combine our previous two-part coverage of Lucille, remaster the audio, and create a supersized, LP of an episode!

For all the media recommendations for this episode, please visit our original shownotes here, LUCILLE BALL!

Episode 185: Sarah Bernhardt

Posted 1 October 2021 by
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One of the famous Felix Nadar portraits taken shortly after she joined the Conservatoire. Circa 1864

Sarah Bernhardt was an actress, sculptress, writer, mother, celebrity…legendary global phenomenon. She was also a courtesan, a master self-promoter, and an all-around unique individual who lived her life on her terms and in her own way. (more…)

Episode 184: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Part Two

Posted 18 September 2021 by
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by Jean-Étienne Liotard 1756

We left Lady mary rolling her eyes as people found reason after reason to not immunize against smallpox. While she cared about people not contracting a deadly disease, what Mary really want to be was a writer. Those letters she wrote from the road? She edited them into a book that was the first to capture a woman’s perspective of the Ottoman Empire. It would not be published in her lifetime, she had other things to do…like garden, socialize, write more biting commentaries on political and court life, raise two kids, ditch her husband and run off with a n’er do well Count to Italy, tour Europe, then entwine her life with another unscrupulous noble. (more…)

Episode 183: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Part One

Posted 6 September 2021 by
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Circa 1716 by Charles Jervas

For a woman who is not well known these days and who lived way back in the 1700s, it’s surprising that there’s enough of a story to fill two episodes…Lady Mary Wortley Montagu is such a woman! (more…)

Episode 182: Typhoid Mary, Revisited

Posted 20 August 2021 by
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There are quite a few parallels between Mary Mallon’s story (a series of typhoid outbreaks) and our present-day pandemic, and so there are things we can learn from it.

But was Mary a villain?

Or simply a victim of circumstances?

This episode also serves as a little hint for the one we’re working on right now for next time!

TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS

For photos, things we discuss, and our media recommendations click on over to Mary’s ORIGINAL SHOWNOTES.

 

Episode 181: Olympias

Posted 22 July 2021 by
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This image, from an ancient coin, is believed to be Olympias and the only known image of her still in existence…but even this has been disputed.

She had several names: Polyxena, Myrtale, Stratonice, and the one she is best known by, Olympias. People often get hung up on the snakes she had around her and the faith by which she lived her life– but we focused on the power she had as not only a wife of a king but the mother of a great one: Alexander the Great. We had to go in the Way…Way Back Machine for the story of this woman who was descended from Achilles (or so family lore claimed) and managed to survive a cut-throat court life at a very turbulent time and place in history. (more…)

Episode 180: Statue of Liberty, Revisited

Posted 2 July 2021 by
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Liberty Enlightening the World! DoD photo by Lt. Matthew Stroup, U.S. Navy/Released)

The annual revisit of our coverage of the Statue of Liberty is, this year, coinciding with her Little Sister’s arrival in the US! The replica version is on loan first to be displayed on Ellis Island next to her big sister, and then heading to the French Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. where she will be on display for the next ten years!

Time Travel with The History Chicks

For more information on the Little Sister’s shipping and arrival, the Smithsonian Magazine has an article including a video of her packing for the trip.

For photos and links to the things we talked about in this episode, visit her original SHOWNOTES 

Episode 179: Marjorie Merriweather Post, Part Two

Posted 25 June 2021 by
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Portrait of Marjorie that hangs in the Marjorie Merriweather Post parlor in the Women’s Democratic Club in Washington, DC. (If you donate enough money to refurbish and furnish a mansion, you get a room named after you.) photo credit, us

When we left Marjorie, she was on her second marriage, this one to E.F. Hutton, and they were moving and shaking up New York and Palm Beach society. Marjorie had “strongly suggested” that the Postum Company should buy a new frozen food company, owned by one Clarence Birdseye, despite most homes and grocery stores not having freezers– and she had begun work on a very unique home in Palm Beach she named Mar a Lago. (more…)