Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Kit's Afternoon Luncheon: Recipes from Kit's Cooking Studio!

Two great sandwiches, cookies and a milkshake to finish it off!

When I was in elementary school, we discovered that a new house was being built right next door to ours - although I should point out that where I grew up, "right next too" really means "several yards through the woods". My mom told me that one of the people living there would be a girl who was a few years older than me, and as soon as I heard that, I really hoped we could be friends. I got very lucky, and we've been friends basically since the day we met.

When we were younger, we'd often get together and play with our American Girl dolls, and she's got a daughter who got her first doll two years ago. I thought they'd be fun people to invite over to try out some new blog recipes, and they came over yesterday for lunch! Dolly - the kiddo's American Girl Doll - came too and got to hang out with my cousin's Kit. We all had a really nice time, and had a chance to try out a bunch of new recipes that I can definitely recommend trying out for yourself.

Since she was the first person I knew who got Kit - pretty much right after she came out! Which is making me feel sort of old to remember how long ago that was, now - I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out some of the recipes from Kit's Cooking Studio.

I recently got the cooking studio on eBay, along with Julie's Cooking Studio and Kirsten's Cookbook. I also own Molly's Cookbook and have been borrowing a copy of Felicity's Cookbook from a friend, but I've never actually made any of the recipes from any of them, and was excited to give it a shot. Most of the recipes look pretty kid friendly from a taste standpoint, and don't seem like they'd be that hard for an eight to twelve year old to cook with adult assistance, so I wanted to give this a test run and see what I thought about taste, time commitment, and accessibility for a younger chef.

Kit's Cooking Studio is divided into three meal categories: Breakfast, Dinner and Favorite Foods, which is mostly other snacks and more lunch-y options. There's also a lot of great information about dining during the Depression, what Kit's kitchen would be like, and suggestions for today's cooks. There are also three party ideas with a few other recipes tucked in there. I picked a couple lunch appropriate recipes from the Favorite Foods section: Checkerboard Sandwiches, Vanilla Milkshakes, Iced Fruit Tea, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Club Sandwiches.

I started the night before with the oatmeal cookies, because I knew those would take the longest to assemble and make. The book doesn't give much history about this particular recipe. There's a note that says they're a tasty and nutritious after school snack, and there's a small text inset that explains the origins of the chocolate chip cookie, but otherwise, there's not a lot of historical context here besides the fact that it is the cookie that appears in Kit's lunchbox.
Anyway, the first part of making the dough was pretty straightforward, although I don't think my hand mixer and I get along very well.

The dough looks deceptively manageable, right? At first, I almost thought gee, I hope this makes enough cookies so we can send some home with them.

And then I added the raisins and oats.

Long story short, the recipe made seventy cookies. Seventy. We hadn't even finished eating all the snickerdoodles yet, there was no way were going to eat all of these by ourselves. I've been offering them to basically everyone I come across, and I'm going to be sending some to a friend who appreciates a good oatmeal cookie.

These are good oatmeal cookies. I've actually never made them from scratch before - I usually just make them out of a mix, and you can really tell the difference. The oats are more noticeable, and the cinnamon gives the dough a nice extra layer of flavor. Unfortunately, my friend's daughter was turned off from the idea of trying one once she heard the word oatmeal, but the grown ups liked them a lot!

While this wasn't a difficult recipe to make, I feel like considering how many cookies it made, a younger baker will lose interest after the first two sheets have been put in the oven, and the rest of it will fall to Mom or Dad to finish baking. That's just sort of how it works with cookies though, so I guess it's to be expected.

I woke up early the next morning to get a head start on the rest of the recipes. I decided to tackle the Iced Fruit Tea next, and it's a good thing I did! This was surprisingly time consuming at first, and while I had the correct number of oranges, I was worried I wasn't going to have enough fresh squeezed juice to make the recipe work!

Fortunately, I did, and it was time to move on to the next step and make the tea. The recipe recommends using either a fruity herbal or an orange spice tea, but I might have cheated and just used black tea and two bags of Lemon Lift, which is my absolute favorite kind of tea. I didn't really start drinking tea until I started reading Felicity's books, and Lemon Lift was the one I associate the most with pretending I was at a tea lesson with Ms. Manderly. Whenever I open a packet, it's like I'm sent back to being nine years old again.

I was a little worried there was actually too much tea for my mom's poor tea pot, but it didn't overflow, and I'm pretty sure it steeped okay. Pouring the sugar in was a little touch and go, but it definitely could have been worse.

I had to break out my old friend the strainer again, but I had a lot more success than I did while I was making my blackberry chocolate cake.

You add the ginger ale after it's all been mixed together and chilled, probably to help stop it from going flat in the fridge if you made it the night before. I really enjoyed it, and so did the other grown ups, but the ginger ale was a little too bubbly for the kiddo! I think most kids who enjoy juice and soda would get a kick out of it, though. The fruit and the tea compliment each other well, and none of the flavors are too overwhelming. When my brother tried some after he got home from school, he couldn't even really identify the individual flavors except that it was fruity, bubbly and tea-ish. I think I'd make it again if I was having a luncheon, because it's something different and once you get in the rhythm, it's not that hard to throw together.

But honestly, I can't imagine this being a recipe a young kid would want to take on by themselves. Maybe one with a passion for cooking, but, as a former child, I can't say I can see any of my old friends sticking it through to the end with this recipe in favor of letting a parent make it for me. Because there's a lot of knife stuff, and hot and potentially fragile things involved, it definitely seems like something that would need pretty close parental supervision if you're doing it with a younger kid. The recipe also lacked any historical context beyond that drinking iced tea outside helped you cool down in summer in the era before air conditioning, so you're sort of just taking the book's word that this is an authentic or loosely authentic 1930's recipe.

Next up was the checkerboard sandwiches. I was honestly a little wary of these, because cream cheese and jam doesn't really seem like a great combination to me, but I was determined to give it a shot. Again, there was basically no historical context on the recipe specifically offered, but there is a note that some women bought flour in 100-pound sacks so they could bake fresh bread every day.

We tried to stick to the Depression theme by using the rest of the thinly sliced bread from our tea sandwiches, and purchasing thinly sliced white bread to go with it.

The recipe says you're supposed to stack all four pieces on bread on top of each other and then slice the crusts off and divide it into four squares, but when I tried doing that, the jam/cream cheese mixture squirted out of the sides, so I just did it in sections of two slices and then stacked the pieces up accordingly.

For something I was initially sort of suspicious of, this was actually a tasty sandwich. I don't know if I'd ever make it again, but it's sort of like a play on PB&J sandwiches, and they're nice little bite sized squares for an appetizer or a side at a kid's party. And they definitely look pretty! Again, I'm not sure a kid would be able to make this entirely by themselves, but I guess I'd trust a kid cutting a sandwich a little more than an orange, especially since it can in theory be done with a butter knife.

Next up was the club sandwiches, which I actually didn't take too many pictures of. Well, that's not explicitly true. I did get a kick out of photographing and watching the bacon fry:

I had never cooked bacon before, and I found it sort of weirdly fun? It was interesting to watch it shrink down and see how the color change as it cooked, and I definitely don't mind being around to smell it cooking.

There aren't too many pictures of assembling the sandwich, but it's pretty self explanatory. There's three pieces of toasted bread, mayo, lettuce, tomato, bacon and chicken in each sandwich, held together with a tooth pick.

The sandwich was definitely tasty. The only thing I'd do differently in the future is not toast the bread - it was very brittle and made the sandwich hard to eat with one hand, or with small hands. The bacon was probably the biggest hit, here! This is the one recipe I can see a kid really being able to get behind - it's easy and pretty quick to toast the bread and assemble the rest of the pieces while Mom or Dad cooks the bacon, and doesn't require much of an attention span to complete.

Once we were finished with the sandwiches, strawberries and tea, we brought out the cookies and got ready to make the milkshakes. There was just one problem.

Because it's just not a Peek Into the Pantry post without something going wrong!

Our loyal blender decided it wanted to go up to the big appliance store in the sky. This turned out to actually be kind of a good thing after the initial panic, because it meant I got to try out the immersion blender for the first time.

And it made one heck of a milkshake.

What really set it apart was the vanilla extract, because it really just made the flavor pop and everyone really, really liked it. This was the smoothest, creamiest home made milkshake I've ever had, and I think the immersion blender is my new favorite kitchen appliance. Although I'm not sure if I had a favorite before that.

Bottom line? I had a really nice time, and I'm really glad I got to be joined by an old friend and her daughter to share this lunch with. These recipes weren't too difficult to make, but I do question whether or not an eight to twelve year old would really be able to make them with limited parental intervention. I also wish there'd been more information in the book about what the historical relevance of these recipes are. The breakfast and dinner sections do have some good historical facts provided, but I thought the favorite foods section was ultimately a little lacking.

That said, I'm definitely excited to try out more of these recipes, and some of the ones in my other cook books and cooking studios as well. If you can get your hands on a copy of one, I'd definitely recommend giving it a try!

Until next time, here's Kit and Dolly enjoying the milkshake!

No comments:

Post a Comment