Friday, February 8, 2013

A new research project

No, it's not the rhubarb pie. It, or more accurately she, is the person who provided the pie recipe: Ingrid Bartelli, an  MSU Extension Consumer Information Marketing Agent and, if I recall correctly, my mother's Home Ec teacher many, many years ago at L'Anse High School. I became intrigued by Mrs. Bartelli when I began doing some background research for an exhibit the local historical society plans to set up at the Baraga County Historical Museum this coming summer: Finns and Finnish Americans in Baraga County. I had a vague memory that Mrs. Bartelli was born a Mattson, which suggests a Finnish background; I also vaguely remembered that she hosted a cooking show on With-Luck-You-See TV in Marquette. It seemed like she'd be a good candidate to include in the exhibit as a notable successful Finnish-American.

Well, despite the wonders of the Internet, it turns out that quite a bit of Mrs. Bartelli's life is still a blank. I know when she was born (April 12, 1912) and when she died (December 29, 2002) but not much about what happened in between those dates. I've found sources for her obituary, but not a copy of the obit itself -- I'm going to have to do old-fashioned library research for that. Turns out there are quite a few newspapers that have not gotten around to digitizing their older records. I've found references to the program she hosted on WLUC TV6 -- "Cooking with Ingrid" -- but no solid information on the show itself, e.g., when did it begin airing and how long did it run? I've learned she was the author of a guide to edible mushrooms that's still being used. It must have been a really good guide because in 1983 the North American Mycological Association presented her with an award for her extraordinary contributions to amateur mycology.

So what am I missing? At this point, just about everything. Until I actually read the obit, I don't have much to go on for her personal life in either direction -- no info on ancestors, nothing on descendants. What did she look like? Are there any photos available? How did she go from teaching school in L'Anse to working for MSU Extension? How many of her former students are still around (other than my 90-year-old mother) and would any of them be willing to be interviewed about her? Ditto children and grandchildren? And just how much time am I willing to invest in researching one small part of what is planned as a much larger exhibit?

No answers yet, but here's the rhubarb pie recipe taken straight from one of Mrs. Bartelli's newsletters for consumers:

My Favorite Rhubarb Pie
Line pie pan with unbaked pie crust
Fill generously with rhubarb which has been cut into 1/2 inch pieces

For a 9 inch pie, mix together:
1 heaping cup of sugar
3 eggs
dash of salt

For 8 inch pie, mix together:
1 scant cup of sugar
2 eggs
dash of salt

Pour egg and sugar mixture over rhubarb, spreading evenly over top.
Cover with strips of pie crust woven in a lattice top.
Bake in hot oven 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees for additional 30 minutes, or until rhubarb is completely cooked. 


  1. Intriguing - I love rsearch like that. I am now thinking about rhubarb pie. Too bad I can't eat any sugar...

  2. Rhubarb came from this country, common folk were in fact banned from eating it, and I am damned if I can find any good rhubarb anywhere.

  3. Did you ever find out more about her? She was a mushroom expert. I found many pamphlets she wrote about mushrooms


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