Friday, May 15, 2020

Caroline's Hasty Cornmeal Pudding

The breakfast of choice for most of your favorite historical characters!

Some recipes are so incredibly simple that they can stick around as a staple on family tables for generations. Take hasty pudding for example: this simple hot breakfast would've been an easy option for Caroline's mother or grandmother to whip up for breakfast, and it's something Caroline could learn to make herself as soon as she was old enough to be trusted near an open fire. 

But this dish has a much longer history, and is an appropriate breakfast for characters well beyond Caroline's time. Read on to find out more about the history of this breakfast staple!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Emily's Wartime Berry Shortbread & VE Day Tea Party

It's the 75th Anniversary of the end of the war in Europe!

Happy VE Day! Today marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe, and I've been looking forward to this day literally all year. Longer than a year, because what a good opportunity to revisit some of my favorite wartime recipes with a celebratory party with historian friends! 

Unfortunately, the party turned into me, my wife, and our cat (and Molly and Emily), but I think we still managed to make it a nice occasion. Read on to see more pictures, and learn how to make this simple, ration friendly twist on shortbread.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Addy's Cherry Pie

You weren't the only one who had to celebrate their birthday in quarantine this year...

Alright, so, my plans for this post are definitely not what they originally were. Actually, my plans for this entire month (and the rest of the foreseeable future!) have been really thrown off, and I bet we all can guess why. 

(COVID-19, for anyone who's reading this years in the future, or jumping forward in time to 2020 and wondering where everyone is.) 

I had grand plans for this month, with lots of cool historical recipes to share, and then grocery stores started emptying of the supplies I needed, my job was threatened by closures of repositories and libraries we use to conduct research for our clients, and everyone got a little worried about going outside for any reason, meaning last minute trips out to get one or two niche ingredients seemed ill advised at best and generally really, really irresponsible. Needless to say, I've also been pretty bummed out, and mental health struggles makes doing stuff that requires a lot of energy - like making content for this blog! - hard. 

But I'm lucky that I'm still healthy right now, currently still (fingers crossed) employed, and am quarantined with my awesome wife, who made Addy this awesome birthday pie I'm going to take a minute to share with you. Read on to see some more pictures and some pie facts.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Nellie's Corned Beef and Cabbage

Name a more iconic March dinner. I'll wait.

This is probably one of the stranger St. Patrick's Day I've ever celebrated, but fortunately I managed to get out and get my hands on a brisket to share this traditional favorite with all of you well in advance of panic buying and social distancing. 

Corned beef and cabbage is one of the most iconic holiday dishes, but many people are quick to claim it's not "authentic" Irish cuisine. Much like spaghetti and meatballs and chop suey, corned beef and cabbage is rather an American spin on a traditional Irish dish. That doesn't make it less authentic, just that it's a staple of a community that isn't centered in Ireland itself. Read on to find out more about this tasty dinner I wish I got to enjoy more than once a year!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Gabby makes President Obama's Favorite Chili

An unusual but tasty spin on chili!

Our final entry in our Black History Month series comes from the personal archive of the Obamas! To share it with you, I brought out Gabriela McBride, AG's first Black Girl of the Year character. Gabby runs for student body president in her third book, so besides being a modern girl who would have grown up during the Obama administration and probably been incredibly excited to see girls like her living in the White House, she felt like a good fit to share this unique but tasty recipe for one of my personal favorite foods. Read on to see what's for dinner with Barack and Michelle!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Melody's Pecan Pie

Enjoying a classic Civil Rights era treat!

Pecan pies have always been something of a mystery to me, as they're completely not my family's tradition when it comes to baked goods. Admittedly, maybe that shouldn't come as a shock: they are, after all, pretty iconically a southern food, and my family has lived in different parts of New England since they immigrated here. 

But because pecan pie is such a staple of southern comfort food, it shouldn't come as a surprise that it would have been a popular treat among Civil Rights leaders and activists. Soul food was an important part of the movement, as African Americans encouraged members of their community to embrace and celebrate their heritage by cooking things like collared greens. Martin Luther King Jr.'s favorite dessert was reportedly pecan pie, and so it seemed like a perfect choice for our Melody recipe this February. Read on to find out how to make a historic version of the pie in your own kitchen!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Addy's Alphabet Cookies

Bringing the books to life!

I've talked before about how Addy's mom is one of my favorite American Girl characters. Ruth Walker is an extraordinarily brave woman who always seems to make the best of a bad situation in a way I - an eternal worrier and pessimist - really admire. Her embarrassment about not knowing how to read and Addy offering to teach her by shaping dough into letters in their small room over Ford's Dress Shop is one of my favorite scenes in the series, and Ruth tucking specially made cookies that spell "love" in Addy's lunch pail as a treat on the day of her spelling bee is a really sweet (literally and figuratively) end to Addy Learns a Lesson

To recreate this moment, I wanted to find the perfect period recipe, and finally tracked down a good one that's great for leaving creative notes to friends and family. Read on to find out how to make them yourself!