Culinary History Collection


Current Editor: Cynthia D. Bertelsen

Issue 2 Winter 2001

Janet Cameron's Demonstration Suitcase 1931-1940

by Alice Johnson and Caryl Gray

Janet Cameron traveled to the counties of the state of Virginia by train or bus, presenting food demonstrations to home demonstration club and 4-H club leaders (see Culinary Heroines and Heroines). These leaders shared their new knowledge with their club members and others in their communities. The demonstration programs were held in community halls, churches, or schools. Janet Cameron would send a list of needed equipment and supplies to the extension agent prior to the program. The extension agent assembled the requested items. To simplify her presentations, Janet assembled basic equipment in a suitcase, which she carried on all of her trips throughout the state. The contents of the suitcase varied depending on the program being presented, but it always contained basic items.

Here is a list of the kitchen equipment that would be part of the demonstration suitcase with a short description about the items.

To demonstrate accurate measuring, Janet included nested measuring cups for dry measure and a Pyrex cup for liquids. She also had a set of nested measuring spoons. These items were used to introduce standardized measuring instead of using a coffee cup and tableware for measuring.

For food preparation a sharp paring knife, a sharp butcher knife, a vegetable peeler, a corer were included and a small Club aluminum sauce pan.

Basic utensils and equipment included a tin can opener and a bottle opener, metal and rubber spatulas, a cooking fork and spoon, and a wooden fork and spoon

For baking the suitcase included nested mixing bowls, loaf pans, round and square cake pans, a tube cake pan, pie plates (metal and Pyrex), cookie sheets, a flour sifter (which sifted directly into the measuring cup), a rotary egg beater, a wire whisk, a glass lemon reamer, a pastry cloth (canvas), a wooden rolling pin (with a baby sock used as a cover) and cooling racks.

For canning demonstrations the suitcase included a canning funnel, a can lifter, tongs for lifting jars and lids, a steamer (also used for vegetable cookery and later freezing demonstrations).

A candy thermometer and a dairy thermometer were included as specialty items if candy making and cheese making were part of the program.

Janet also introduced new kitchen utensils as part of her demonstrations. These new items included the Foley Food Fork, the Foley Food Mill (demonstrated by Alice Johnson), the pastry blender (instead of using two knives or a table fork), a nut chopper (attached to a glass jar), a Jell meter (for making jelly) and a fine tined angel food cake cutter.

Other basics include a bread knife, small cutting board, dishcloths, dish towels (made from feed bags) and potholders.

After 1940, Janet Cameron had the use of a state car to travel to the counties in Virginia. She still used the demonstration suitcase to carry the basic equipment that she needed. With the use of a car, she added a pressure cooker, food drying racks, jelly kettles, steamers, and some larger pots and pans to her "traveling kitchen".

The following books on kitchen equipment can be found the collection of the University Libraries.

Curtis, Tony. Kitchenware: The Lyle Antiques and Their Values. New York, N.Y.: Coward-McCann, 1983 (TX 656 C87 1983).

Ettlinger, Steve. The Kitchenware Book. New York, N. Y.: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992. (TX 656 E88 1992).

International Cooks' Catalogue with an introduction by James Beard. New York, N.Y.: Random House, 1977. (TX 656 I57 1977).

Kness, Darlene. The Butterick Kitchen Equipment Handbook. New York, N.Y.: Butterick Publishing, 1977. (TX 656 K53).

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