Thursday, December 31, 2015

Julie's French Onion Dip

Taking a trip back in time to New Years long ago!

So we all joke that Julie Albright is basically the brown eyed, hip and happening Californian version of my mother. They're basically the same age. Julie has the clothes she wanted, an orange version of her skateboard, and even has a pet rabbit, although Nutmeg is a much more universally loved pet than Thumper was. They even both love Little House on the Prairie and The Brady Bunch!

Which yes, everyone did back then. But was everyone a spunky blonde ten year old with a tiny braid and a love for buffalo sandals?

This year, it was revealed that my mother had a special ritual she shared with her grandmother on New Year's Eve, and I decided what better way to ring in the new year than recreating that? Rediscovering a piece of family history sounds a lot better than twiddling my thumbs waiting for the ball to drop!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Grace makes Cookie Brittle & Elevator Lady Spice Cookies

Happy Holidays from A Peek into the Pantry!

Happy Holidays, everyone! Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope you've had a good December so far and can get a kick out of hearing about some of my family traditions. I've had a chance to highlight a few of these in the past, but the recipes I'm sharing today are something I took charge of making this year, rather than learning from the original masters: my two grandmas!

It seemed only fitting that Grace be the host for this post. Grace's books center around her love of baking, which started because her grandparents run a successful bakery in town. She loves visiting them and helping them out in the kitchen, and turns to them for advice when she and her friends decide they want to start their own baking business! I don't exactly have a tradition of baking with my grandmas and we definitely don't own a family bakery, but I definitely do think of these recipes as "their" recipes. I hope you'll enjoy hearing about how to make them yourself!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Maryellen's Peanut Blossoms

A delicious cookie with a slightly depressing origin story. Prepare to be surprised!

After watching a couple different televised holiday baking challenges this year, I think it's pretty safe to say that just about any cookie can be a holiday cookie depending on your family's traditions. A flavor profile might not be appropriate for a summer or spring baking challenge, but just about anything can be a holiday cookie.

A staple of many holiday cookie platters is the peanut blossom, sometimes better known as "the ones with the Hersey Kisses in them". What a lot of people don't realize is that these were a creation that became popular in the 1950's (a decade full of delicious sweet treats, as well as all those horrifying gelatin concoctions), and actually weren't developed by the Hershey company! So how exactly did these wind up on the back of bags of Hershey Kisses?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Emily's Wartime Eggless Christmas Cake

Doing your bit on the home front with carrots!

Now, there's no question that Christmas during the 30's and 40's meant slim pickings on the holiday table for most Americans, but Christmas in wartime England was no picnic either. As we've already discussed, rationing in Britain was a lot stricter throughout the entire war and so kids like Emily had to learn to make do without the traditional sweet treats most people expect around the holiday season.

But just like Molly and Kit had recipes for inexpensive Christmas cakes, the British government, professional chefs and home cooks came up with plenty of solutions to give people what they were looking for without using all their rations on one sweet treat.

How did they manage this without free access to sugar, eggs and milk?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Caroline's Wassail

Here we come a-wassailing...

I'm sure there's many a person out there who's heard the by now famous Christmas carol "Here We Come A-wassailing" (or caroling, if you're into the more modern version of this mid 1850's song) who isn't even sure what wassail is, or where the term comes from. As a kid, I know I definitely wondered a bit, because it's sort of a funny word, and if it means caroling... why not just say caroling?

But like many random bits of pop culture we still enjoy today, wassailing actually has very long history, with roots going back well before the song, or even Caroline's Christmas in 1812! The drink we're making today might be a little similar to something she and her family might have enjoyed, though, whether or not they went singing door to door all over Sackets Harbor.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Molly & Kit Make FDR's Inexpensive Christmas Cake

A slightly weird, very authentic recipe from harder times!

I've been trying to make an effort to visit more local and semi local historical sites lately. I'm lucky to be in a place with a lot of cool history around me, and yet there are so many places I've never visited!

One I've always wanted to go to was Franklin D. Roosevelt's Presidential Library and home in Hyde Park, New York, especially after this recipe for a Christmas cake popped up in the cookbook I purchased while at the National Archives last year. Although there's no note in the book that it's Roosevelt's personal recipe for Christmas cake, the recipe is attributed to the FDR Presidential Library's archives. I knew I wanted to make the cake, and figured hey, sounds like as good a reason as any to go check the library out.

So my mom, dad, Kit, Molly and I got in the car, and went on a field trip.