Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mini Grace's Report from Munich

Hello from Germany!

A few weeks ago, my parents, younger brother and I went on a trip to Munich, Germany. While I didn't have access to a kitchen and probably wouldn't have done a blog post there if I did, I did want to share some of our adventures with my readers, and so I brought along a little friend with me.

Say hello to mini Grace! Who unfortunately is always going to be promoting her love of Paris no matter what because I lack the ability to make her a mini Munich t-shirt. She was a fun pocket sized travel companion, and we got to see a lot of interesting stuff!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kit's Cobb Salad

A midnight snack turned delicious entree!

As much as I love baking cakes or cooking rich, delicious dinners, every once and a while, I feel a little guilty for not making more food that's health conscious. I know I have readers who are doing their best to eat healthier, and since this started off as an attempt to force myself to learn how to cook, I'd like to be able to get more experience making food that fits our modern understanding of what makes a healthy, well rounded diet, and not recipes from an era that assumes you're going to be out plowing fields all day and thus need the extra calories. One of the simplest solutions to this would be to find some interesting salads to make right?

Well, sort of.

Unfortunately, as I've discovered, our idea of what actually makes a salad has changed a lot over the years. Generally speaking, Americans (and parts of Europe, I won't speak for the rest for the world because I'm not as familiar with their foodways) haven't really had a great history of preparing vegetables in a way that's actually good for you. We've boiled them until we basically stripped the nutrients, slathered them in honey and brown sugar, and smothered them under thick sauces, or lots and lots of anchovys. Our definition of salad once (and still does, in some communities!) included genuinely sugary gelatin molds on top of a measly leaf of lettuce! That's not exactly what I was looking for, guys!

As far as I can tell - based on my admittedly cursory research, I won't pretend to be a salad historian here - one of the first really modern dinner salads that we're still eating today dates back to a midnight snack first enjoyed in 1937, and has been showing up on people's tables almost ever since. Where did I find out about the history of the Cobb salad?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lemonade with Nellie

Some experiments in homemade deliciousness!

I am a huge fan of lemonade. I'm actually drinking some right now! Even though I indulge with it year round, everything about it just says summer, and it's always a refreshing treat to have when it's way too hot outside.

But I have to admit, homemade lemonade isn't really something I've tried before, even though it's pretty simple to do once you know the trick, and I've been looking for an opportunity, inspiration or reason to go ahead and give it a try for myself. I found that in a slightly surprising place, and brought Nellie on a trip with me to go check it out.

Where did we go?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Molly's Pinwheel Peach Cobbler

A historical recipe that might be redefining cobbler topping for me!

Happy VJ Day, everyone! On August 15th, 1945, Japan announced their surrender, thus finally ending World War II. Like VE Day, many people around the world went nuts, rushing to places like Times Square or their town centers to throw parties and celebrate that the war was well and truly over. For many servicemen and women, this was the day they had been waiting for anxiously since VE Day. Troops in Europe had been expecting to be demobilized to join the forces already in the Pacific to spearhead an invasion of the Japanese home islands, and this finally took away the anxiety that they would have won the war in Europe only to get killed trying to end the war in the Pacific. This meant that many of them could finally, finally return home to their families, and were eager to get on the first boat home they could get.

Troops in the Pacific were similarly elated, especially the Marine and Army divisions that were still recovering from rough fighting on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Although it would still take a long time for many people to return home - both European and Pacific troops needed to participate in occupation duties if they didn't have enough "points" to return home - they began to think a lot more hopefully about what the future held and of course, that included soon being able to indulge in comfort food they hadn't been able to have since shipping out.

For that reason, I decided the best thing to make today would be an old fashioned peach cobbler, something soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines no doubt fantasized about on nights where they were feeling homesick and would soon get to enjoy once they got home. Although this is a little different from other cobblers I've made, I can safely say this was tasty and definitely worth bringing to any VJ Day parties you might be planning yourself.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Felicity's Raspberry Flummery

Who said molded desserts were just from the 1950's?

August is usually my least favorite month of summer. Everything gets soupy and humid, and historically, August was the month of scrambling to get your summer homework assignments done before the first day of school. These days, it's more the heat than anything else that gets frustrating, but so far, our last month of summer (September doesn't count, okay) has been relatively cool.

But for those of you who aren't as fortunate, we tried out an interesting dessert that doesn't show up on many banquet tables after the early 19th century. Although a dish called flummery gained popularity in Australia after World War II, this colonial version is pretty different, and has more in common with a molded gelatin than a mousse. I wasn't quite sure if I was going to like it or not, but it turned out to be a pleasantly simple, tasty treat to enjoy on a warm afternoon, and probably would have felt even better if I was wearing the outfit Felicity's got on!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cécile's Lemon Cake

Making me appreciate how much easier baking cakes has become!

I've often talked about how before the 1850's and the introduction of commercially available baking powder, baking a cake was a lot more difficult than it is today. All that being said, I don't think I've actually made a historical cake without baking powder before. I've made a cake without eggs, of course, but I've been wanting to try and tackle a really authentic, no baking powder cake for quite a long time. It seemed like an interesting challenge, and after doing a lot of thinking about it, I finally found a recipe that seemed like a good beginner's cake.

And it was, and it wasn't. I say that for a couple reasons which you'll find out about in a bit, but I just want to say this up front: I would definitely give this another try now that I'm a little more comfortable with the recipe, so don't lose hope! You too can make an authentic cake from the mid 19th century with relatively little fuss.