Friday, December 23, 2016

Jane's Gingerbread Men

A cookie we've been enjoying eating for centuries!

Happy holidays, everyone! Unlike past Christmases, I didn't have a lot of time this year to do a ton of new holidays recipes, which on the one hand, isn't such a bad thing. Over the last three years, I've managed to feature a recipe from almost every character's time period and culinary perspective, so we've got a pretty good baseline for how Christmas, Hanukkah and Twelfth Night were celebrated over the decades.

But there's one character who I haven't featured yet, and I found the perfect thing to share with all of you this holiday season! It's from a pretty entertaining source too, which I'm very excited to bring to everyone's attention. Read on to find out more!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Lost Camera, Pearl Harbor Day, and M&M Cookies

So I have some good news, and I have some bad news.

The good news is I'm back with another new post! The bad news is I lost my camera at some point last weekend, and it's becoming increasingly obvious that it isn't going to find its way back to me. I'm pretty upset about it, especially because I lost some pictures of a chocolate demonstration at the American History Museum with Heritage Chocolate! It was a really neat demonstration and the guys running it were very friendly, and really excited to hear I was a food blogger who had featured their products on my blog before. One of them was even willing to take a picture with Felicity! I wish I had the pictures to share with you guys, but unfortunately I think it's now in the possession of a Lyft driver or some lucky tourist at the American History Museum.

(I'm trying to keep up a brave face about this for the sake of keeping this light, but I'm - understandably, I hope - really, really upset about it.)

Thanks to my phone's camera and a backlog of posts I'm sitting on, there should still be new content between now and whenever I'm able to get my hands on a replacement. I hope you all don't mind a slight dip in image quality in the mean time, because I think it's going to drive me a little crazy.

Anyway, what have I been up to?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The National Museum of American History's 2nd Annual Food History Festival!

Politics on your plate!

Alright, back to business.

I've been fortunate enough to attend a couple really fun events since moving to DC. The Library of Congress' National Book Festival and the recent used book sale at the National Museum of the US Navy have helped boost my collection of signed books quite a bit, and of course I got to go see the African American Museum of History and Culture. One such event I've been meaning to tell you guys about since the end of October, but then my parents came to visit, the election happened, school got busier, and... yeah. Now it's almost the end of November and I still haven't shared it with you. Sorry about that.

The National Museum of American History had its second annual Food History Festival during the last weekend in October, and after a vote on my Instagram, I decided Kit would be the one making the trip down to the mall to go check it out. I had very little idea of what to expect, and while I feel like this event wasn't as fun or awesome as it could have been, it was definitely worth going to and I'll be happy to attend next year's, assuming I'm not swamped under piles of homework.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Quick Update

Well guys, it’s been a tough month between school and the election, and it’s only half way over.

I know not everyone is going to agree with that assessment, but I can’t pretend that hasn’t been the truth for me, my family, and lots of people I care about, not to mention people around the country and the word.

Yes, everything might work out for the best, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it does, but as a historian (and a queer woman and an American), I can’t pretend this isn’t unprecedented and upsetting. I don’t plan on stopping this blog, and I don’t plan on shifting the primary focus of it onto politics rather than food, but I wanted to address this. It has been very, very difficult to get excited about contributing to a blog that - for better or worse - tends to focus on the celebratory side of American history in the wake of the election. I can’t just go on as if nothing has changed. The world is more than food and pretty dolls.

I keep thinking about a quote from Franklin Roosevelt’s speech as he accepted the Democratic Party’s renomination for President in 1936: “To some generations, much is given. To others, much is expected.” A lot has been given to us and a lot will be expected. We all have a responsibility to make sure we get through the next four years together, and I hope we rise to that challenge by being empathetic, supportive and courageous.

Roosevelt completed his thought by saying that “This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” We can all help make sure that we meet it in the best way possible. I hope you’re willing to help make that happen.

And for now, that's it for me. I'm going to try to get a post written about Kit's trip to the Smithsonian written up this weekend, so stay tuned for that.

And here's a dessert from AGP DC.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Elissabat's Kiss from a Vampire Cookies

A ghoulish guest star with some scary cool treats!

Novelty recipes always enchant me. I might not be a huge Pintrest enthusiast, but I can appreciate a good food related craft, or clever tricks to make awesome themed cakes, cookies and tea breads.

My only complaint? Sometimes they don't turn out the way you want them to. Unfortunately, this is one of those times, but we were still left with a really tasty treat that would be welcome at any Halloween party.

Because I left most of what could be considered Halloween costumes for American Girl dolls at my parents' house, I decided this post was going to be hosted by one of my Monster High dolls, who happens to be a vampire. Seems fitting, right?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Addy Visits the National Museum of African American History and Culture!

Say hello to the newest Smithsonian!

I have a really cool announcement for anyone who's been living in a cave for the last couple years: there's a new Smithsonian on the Mall, and it's basically the best thing ever.

Plans for a Smithsonian focusing on African American history and culture have been in the works for a long time, and for the last several years, visitors to Washington could watch as a massive, unique structure was erected right next to the Washington Monument to house the collection. I know I've been impatiently waiting to see what the museum's like for what feels like forever, as every time I visited the city over the last five years or so the building looked closer and closer to being complete.

Well, the wait is finally over, and let me tell you, it was definitely worth being patient for.

DISCLAIMER: The following post contains images that may be upsetting to some viewers. Specifically, Addy has been photographed "touring" the exhibits and galleries at the museum as though she is a sentient being and is visiting it in the same way I have done past posts on site at historical sites and museums. I am but one white person, showing images that many people at this time cannot see for themselves, and I took Addy with me as the American Girl representative since she is the oldest black character AG has released and the most well known. The images contained are actual items, and they are brutal, but true, and are the kind of history that we, as people who claim to be interested in history, need to see. Because American history is not just pretty food and fancy dresses, it is brutality and oppression and ugly but if we do not look at it at the past, then we will never be able to see how not to perpetuate these things.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Melody Makes Rosa Parks' Featherlite Pancakes

The fluffiest pancakes you will ever eat.

So, I think it goes without saying that it's a really exciting time to be interested in Black history in Washington, DC. Everyone has been making a big deal about the opening of the new African American Museum of History and Culture - which I'm finally going to be visiting on Tuesday!! - and so there's a lot of efforts by different organizations to promote the museum, and raise awareness about the influence of Black Americans throughout history. It's been fun seeing other museums and institutions promote parts of their collections that might not have been on display recently, and see how they're working to teach people about an area of history that was (and still is...) too often underrepresented.

Take for example Rosa Parks' recipe for peanut butter pancakes, which is held in the Library of Congress and penned in her own handwriting! While a few of my friends and I were at the Library of Congress Book Festival last month, we happened to see a presentation that mentioned it, and immediately knew we had to find the recipe, get together and make them. So we did. We discovered they're basically the fluffiest, tastiest pancakes you could ever hope for, and are definitely something more people should know about.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Caroline and Lalie's Trip to Australia

Featuring interesting animals and lots of good food!

Whew, finally got this post out there. As you guys know, I'm dating a lovely lady who happens to live in Australia. I wouldn't change anything... except how far away Australia actually is. Before I moved and got started on this crazy grad school adventure, I got to sneak away to visit her for about two weeks and brought one of my dolls with me... and a second one I'd bought (and customized!) for Jessi!

I've been wanting to share some pictures from my trip basically since I got home, but as you can imagine, there are a lot of them. Like, a lot.

Don't worry, this isn't all of them! But here are some highlights from our adventure. Hopefully you'll get an update about Lalie and Caroline's trip around DC in a couple months!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Kaya's Blackberry Pie

One of the best ways to end the summer!

Alright, time to get back on track, I think. Thanks again to everyone for your kind words and well wishes on my (or Grace's...) last post! I'm finally finding my footing a little bit and had some time to get back to the blog tonight, so I hopped right on it.

This pie left me with a lot of mixed feelings. It was tasty, and some things went really, really well. Others? Not so much. I've found I'm still not quite the pie expert I'd like to be, although I do think I'm making progress. I'll never forget that horrible sinking feeling when I realized my first ever attempt at an apple pie was totally soggy at the bottom! Talk about disappointing.

With a few tweaks, I think this pie might wind up being a big winner. Maybe that's all I need to encourage me to give this another try.

Friday, September 2, 2016

It's Our Third Anniversary!: New Adventures, New Friends, and the Boston Cooler

Hey everyone! Long time no see! This is Grace stepping in to make sure this blog post actually gets out in time for our anniversary. Gwen's been sooo busy lately she's barely had time to look at our email, let alone cook (or bake! :( ) anything new and exciting, so me and the other dolls thought we'd do her a favor and write this year's anniversary post for her. Since Gwen likes to joke that I'm turning into her mini me, I get to be the one catching you guys up!

So, what have we been up to?

That's not my beautiful kitchen...
We've moved!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Kit's Italian Ice

You're three ingredients away from a surefire way to beat the heat!

I know it's all a manner of perspective and what you're used to, but honestly, I can't imagine what it must have been like to live in a time before air conditioning. I don't love being cold or the darkness that comes along with winter, but I do wilt very quickly in high heat, especially when it's humid, so finding ways to keep cool (or just stay in a climate controlled area) are definitely always a priority for me, especially by the time August is rolling around.

(I heard a radio DJ saying that August usually is a cooler month than July, and all I could think of was seriously? Have you ever lived through August before?)

It just so happens that I stumbled upon this recipe in one of my old folders of post ideas and figured hey, why not? Is there a better time of year to have Italian ice than the Dog Days of summer?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Grace's Root Beer Float Cupcakes

My long search for the key ingredient is over!

Can you believe it's August already? I feel like the last two months have gone by way too fast. I'm neck deep into packing for my big move, and am trying my very best to keep up with blog stuff until I'm out the door and on the road.

People keep insisting that I shouldn't kill myself trying to make sure blog posts go out on time, and they're right! But the fact is, I want to do as much as I can before I start my next adventure. I intend to continue posting here and learning more about food history, but since none of us know what the future holds, might as well make the best of things while we can, right?

One thing I knew I wanted to do before I left was feature this unusual but extremely tasty cupcake recipe. Much like the flourless chocolate cake I made earlier this summer, this is a recipe I've been wanting to feature for a really, really long time, but there was one thing keeping me from committing to it: root beer extract.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Samantha Makes the Roosevelt's Fat Rascals

A presidential family favorite!

Love him or hate him, there's no question that Teddy Roosevelt was probably the most influential American in Samantha's era. As the youngest US President, he presented a certain vitality to the American public that was just as exciting and interesting to them as his colorful personality and military background. Part of his appeal was that he had a large, young family, all of which were the subject of media attention and enthusiasm... not always in a good way!

For that reason, I've been really interested in featuring a Roosevelt family recipe on the blog for a while now. There are a couple floating around the internet for the interested, but I decided to go with this one because I had no idea what a fat rascal was. Was it a scone? Biscuit? Cookie? No idea! So I dove in and gave it a shot.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Emily's Cream Tea

The perfect light meal, any time of year!

I really enjoy tea, both the drink and the semi formal meal by the same name. Living in the States, it's relatively uncommon to be invited to or have an afternoon tea that comes with sandwiches and treats unless we're going out of our way to have a special occasion, but the handful of times I've had opportunity to enjoy high tea, boy, have I enjoyed it.

As it turns out, there's a simpler, more informal version of tea you can enjoy that's known as cream tea, Devonshire tea, Devon cream tea or Cornish cream tea. The tradition's history is a little murky, but it seems to have gotten its start in Devon back in the 1100's with just bread and jam, well before tea had been imported to Britain! Essentially, it's just a scone (or scones) with cream, jam and tea, and it's a nice way to tide yourself over if you've had to skip lunch or are having a late dinner... or if you're just in the mood for some tea and a tasty baked good!

Although this tradition is especially popular in Devon and Cornwall, it's not unusual to hear people talking about a Devonshire tea in the UK or other Commonwealth countries like Australia. It was kind of a dark, moody day, so I decided it seemed like a good day to give this tradition a whirl.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Maryellen's Key Lime Pie

An easy way to bring a Florida favorite into your home!

I've had very mixed experiences making pie. Some of them have turned out awesome, and some have been kind of a hot mess. Key lime pie was a dish that I was totally intimidated to try making, because in the past, I've usually seen it served in the form of a curd and a meringue topping. I'd like to think that I'm pretty brave in the kitchen, but sometimes, you just want something simple and easy, you know what I mean?

Fortunately, I stumbled upon a really simple version that sounded and looked delicious. No fussing with making a curd or a meringue, and thus the perfect thing for me to make for a Sunday dinner dessert.

Easy, time saving recipes are what the 50's are all about, for better or worse, so although this isn't an authentically 50's recipe, I think it's something Maryellen - a Florida native - and her family would approve of!

Well, except for one thing.

I didn't have key limes.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cécile's Beignets

Also known - as per Lottie LaBouff - as Tiana's Man Catching Beignets.

I've always been intensely intimidated when it comes to deep frying. Frying anything in oil is bad enough because if not done properly, it makes a huge mess, can start fires, and might leave you with annoying or extremely painful burns all over your hands, wrists, face, etc.

So, needless to say, I've always talked myself down from trying to make any doughnuts, especially after the mess I made making latkes for Hanukkah in 2013, when I was quasi forbidden from ever frying anything ever again because the oil took so long to clean up.

Well, that changed. I'm still not sure I'm ever going to become a deep frying guru or rabid enthusiast, but I did give it a shot, and things went pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. Somewhat ironically, the person who encouraged me to give this a try was my mom, the person who originally said she never wanted me to fry anything ever again! It turns out with the proper equipment, deep frying is not as hard as it seems and can create some pretty tasty treats to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

Even if it's still a lot to clean up. And kind of makes your house smell like oil for hours and hours.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Grace's Flourless Chocolate Cake

Or, the dessert I promised my sister I'd make three years ago. Sorry, Abby!

July has worked out to feature two recipes I'd never thought I'd make in my own kitchen that turned out pretty darn amazing, if I do say so myself. You'll see the next one in a couple days, but right now, I want to take a minute to talk about one of the best desserts I've ever made. I know, I know, I say that basically every other week, but every once and a while, I really truly mean it.

Okay, I actually mean it every time I've said it, because I have made and eaten a lot of really fun, tasty stuff.

But this kind of holds a special place in my heart because it really was never something I thought would be simple and delicious to make and eat at home. I'm sure most of us have at least seen if not tasted a flourless chocolate cake at a restaurant. It's a pretty standard dessert offering, usually paired with raspberry sauce and/or vanilla ice cream, and I've enjoyed it many a time, figuring hey, this probably doesn't turn up on people's picnic tables because it must be really hard to make.

As it turns out, not only is that not true at all, but you probably have all the ingredients to make it in your own home right now! Talk about awesome, right? My life is never going to be the same.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Ivy's Impossible Pie

Another badly named baking science experiment!

As I said back when I made my vinegar pie and my ship's biscuits, some of the recipes I've got on the docket for A Peek into the Pantry I'm not trying out because I expect them to taste delicious or already know I love. No, some are more culinary and historical science experiments, where I go in knowing things might either be a total disaster, or at least taste like one. After all, there have to be some dishes that have fallen out of favor with the American public for a reason, right?

Take impossible pie. This confusingly named dish first came on people's radar in the late 60's, and blossomed onto the culinary scene in the 70's, meaning it's definitely something Ivy and Julie would have run into, or at least heard of. I stumbled upon it while looking through the Food Timeline, one of the best resources on the internet for food history and historical recipes, and was immediately intrigued by this unusual sounding recipe. Not only did it sound like a really interesting experiment, but the fact that coconut was a primary ingredient made me think hey, this might turn out to be my new favorite pie!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Molly's Atomic Green Chile Cheeseburgers

Don't worry, they're not radioactive!

Is any other food quite as perfect as a good hamburger? I don't think so, and I'm pretty sure the popularity of burger chains and shops prove I'm not alone in thinking this. While they're not my hands down favorite food of all time (here's looking at you, chili), after going a few weeks without, I often find myself craving a nice, juicy burger with crisp lettuce, melty cheese, and definitely some tomato and onion in there. One of the things I miss most about going to college is the burger place near my dorm room. There was really nothing better after a long, long week of arguing about World War II and educating people about why Jamestown is worth studying than stopping by UBurger and bringing home dinner.

Apparently, this particular burger was also enjoyed by people looking for a good snack after a long day's work, and can easily be enjoyed by you today on Fourth of July, Memorial Day, or any traditionally cookout oriented holiday. Or just any day of the week! It's super simple, while also putting enough of a spin on the classic burger that I can definitely see why it was popular with certain scientists hanging out in New Mexico during World War II. Read on to find out more!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Addy's Strawberry Shortcake

The secret origins of one of my favorite summer time desserts!

While there are a lot of different fun summer time desserts, nothing feels more summery to me as strawberry shortcake. This is probably because while I usually don't stick to seasonality with my food - I'll happily eat spice cookies any time of the year, thanks very much! - this is a treat that was exclusive to summer when I was a kid, and it's something I always looked forward to. My grandma is the strawberry shortcake master in my family, and without her, I'm honestly not sure I'd have ever gotten to try this yummy combination of biscuit, cream and berries. I don't tend to order fruity desserts at restaurants and don't remember any of my friend's families being especially fond of shortcake, so I think it's fair to say she's responsible for my enthusiasm for this treat.

Because it's been a part of my life for so long, I'd never really thought about its origins until I came up with the idea for this blog. Now I think about the history of basically any food that's put in front of me, because this is what happens when I get interested in something. It's difficult to shut my brain up! This is another dish I've wanted to explore the origins of basically since starting A Peek into the Pantry, and for whatever reason, I didn't get around to it until this month. Better late than never!

Although variations of this dish were popular before 1864, Addy gets to host this post because the shortcake really came into its own in the mid 1800's. It's absolutely a dessert she and her family would have enjoyed in their home or at church gatherings, and I'll bet it was a family favorite. How could it not be?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Julie's Zucchini Bread

The 70's health food craze that's turned into a difficult sell in my house!

When I was a kid, one of my favorite picture books was In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, because apparently I've always been obsessed with food. In it, a boy named Mickey winds up in the "Night Kitchen" and is almost baked into a cake by three bakers. He then constructs an airplane out of bread dough and flies off to retrieve milk for the baker's cake. After his successful return, he winds up back in bed again. It's a silly story - although there are apparently much darker themes in it than I realized when I was a kid - and I remember being so outraged that apparently in this universe, cake was an appropriate thing to eat for breakfast. I'd never heard of such a thing and was pretty resentful that I was apparently being denied this totally appropriate sweet start to the day.

Fittingly, it was first published in 1970, and the recipe I'm featuring today is also a 70's classic. It's also a cake that people ate and presumably still eat for breakfast, and was once considered a health food! Obviously I was just born in the wrong decade if things like zucchini, banana and carrot bread were being promoted as a healthy start to your day.

These days, I feel like zucchini bread has become tough to market to people, while banana and carrot cake still appear at bakeries and on family tables all over the world. I know I've definitely turned my nose up at it in the past! So how did this bread come to be such a well loved staple, and how has it fallen out of favor? Let's find out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Caroline Visits Mystic Seaport and Makes Ship's Biscuits

Be careful not to break your teeth!

As some of you may know, I'm going to be uprooting my life and moving to get a Master's Degree! This is - of course - very exciting, and I'm looking forward to all my new opportunities, but it's also turned me into something of a woman possessed when it comes to hitting up all more local tourist destinations before I pack up and head out. It's kind of silly, because it's not like most of these places are going anywhere, but I still feel obligated to cram in as much as humanly possible before D-Day.

Unfortunately, this has been met with limited success and enthusiasm on the part of most of my travel buddies. My family and friends are super, super busy this summer, and I've had to sadly accept that we just don't have the time to do certain roadtrips before I have to leave. On the bright side, the places we have managed to sneak away to have been a lot of fun, and one of them I knew I wanted to highlight over here because it has a fun tie in to a recipe I've been wanting to make for a while.

I know, I know. Ship's biscuits - also known as hardtack - aren't exactly the most appealing sounding food no matter what time period you live in, but seriously. What better recipe could go with our trip to Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Maryellen's Trip to Disneyland!

Happy birthday to the happiest place on Earth!

My family is full of Disney fans. Even the few people who can't sing along with virtually every song, recite lines of dialogue from every movie and destroy all challengers at Disney Sceneit? love visiting the parks whenever we can, which definitely isn't as often as we'd like it to be. Too bad things like distance and money make catering to your inner child difficult, right?

A couple weeks ago, my dad and I managed to sneak away to Disneyland for a few days, and I brought someone small and vinyl along with me! Part of this is because I like taking dolls along when I visit places to take pictures of them outside of my house or backyard and to give this blog a bit of a traveling toy blog flavor, but the other reason is I was on a mission to find and eat Chris' Cold Pie. You might remember I tried to make it as an introduction to Maryellen last year, and it didn't go so well.

I also brought her along because Disneyland is still celebrating its 60th anniversary! As you can see, Sleeping Beauty Castle looks pretty festive for the event. Read on to see some more pictures from our trip!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Nellie's Original Ice Cream Sundaes & Banana Split

Simple, but super tasty creations from the turn of the century!

Ah, ice cream sundaes. Is there any better thing to have when it's hot outside and you're looking to treat yourself? I've been wanting to take some time this summer to talk about this iconic treat because I think it's a really cool example of how one good idea can grow and grow and grow into something pretty spectacular.

We've talked about ice cream and ice cream novelties before, but never quite from this angle. As we all know from when I made home made vanilla ice cream with Caroline, ice cream has been around for a really long time, but the ice cream sundae is a comparatively much more modern invention, which I find kind of hard to believe.

I mean, did it really take until the 1900's for someone to think hey, maybe we should put fruit, candy, cookies, and chocolate on top of this stuff? That just seems crazy to me!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Kirsten's Vinegar Pie

Don't be scared off by the name: this is a pretty cool pie!

Sometimes, I go into making historical recipes sort of the way you'd go into a science experiment. After all, that's what baking is at the end of the day, right? Chemistry!

This is definitely something I decided to make more out of curiosity than genuine enthusiasm for the finished product. I mean, the name certainly isn't very appealing, is it? When I mentioned what I'd be making to my mom, she looked at my like I was insane. But as it turns out, this is actually an old family favorite of one of the most beloved authors in American history, and it's certainly something I could see Kirsten and her family giving it a try when they heard how easy and inexpensive it is!

It's also super versatile. What other recipe can you flavor with just about anything to meet the needs of any function?

Also today happens to be Kirsten's birthday! Didn't even realize that when I originally scheduled this post. Talk about a fun coincidence!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Rebecca's Egg Creams

A New York classic loved by Rebecca!

It bums me out that American Girl has never released cookbooks for most of their newer characters. Although it's true we've seen some duds or not entirely historically accurate recipes in the official character cookbooks and cooking studios released by Pleasant Company and Mattel, for the most part, I really love the books. They add a special dimension of being able to experience the world through your favorite Historical/BeForever character's eyes, and open you up to trying new things that might not be part of your family's typical food routine.

That being said, the main book series, mysteries and short stories can still point you in fun directions when it comes to getting a taste of history. One treat that caught my eye the very first time I read Rebecca's books was an Egg Cream, an old fashioned treat that she looks forward to getting every so often at a soda shop. I'd never heard of egg creams before, and therefore I'd obviously never had one, so I've always had this earmarked as something I really wanted to explore on the blog.

Other stuff has evidently caught my attention a tiny bit more, because we're almost three years into running this blog, but hey. Better late than never, right?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Addy's Potato Salad

A Memorial Day weekend staple, but perhaps not quite as 1860's as American Girl would have you believe.

Memorial Day weekend means a lot of things to a lot of people: cookouts, trips to the beach, eating out at their favorite fried fish stand, sales, a much needed day off from work, free shipping, parades, and 100% most importantly, honoring those who gave their lives while serving their country. Although I enjoy all of the less serious parts of this holiday, it's the last bit that's got the most weight for me. I spend a lot of time learning about America's military history and honestly know too many sad stories about young men and women (or older men and women) who gave everything to keep their friends, families and country safe. This year, I definitely wanted to take some time to talk about this holiday and why we celebrate it when we celebrate it, because I think the origin story is pretty interesting and not very well known.

Of course, I wasn't going to give you a history lesson without breaking out a dish to try! I bet most of you who had get togethers this weekend had some version of potato salad on your menu, so it seemed like a totally fitting selection. This recipe for potato salad comes directly from Addy's Cook Book, which means you'd think it's verified to be something she and her family definitely would have eaten, right? As it turns out, this might be an example of AG needing to do their homework a little more.

So, what makes this an Addy themed post, and why wouldn't she and her family have actually eaten this version of potato salad in 1865?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Kaya's Fennel and Fig Salad

A tasty but time consuming salad.

Every once and a while, people ask me if I'd ever consider a career in the culinary world after taking such an interest in culinary history and cooking. This post is pretty much proof that I'm not sure I could cut it in a real restaurant setting.

Don't get me wrong, this was very tasty and definitely worth the effort, but, whew. The idea of doing this for hundreds and hundreds of people? No thank you. I just don't have the stamina!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kit's Chocolate Chip Cookies

C is for Cookie, and that's definitely good enough for me.

I often claim that one of the desserts I've made for this blog is my new favorite thing, or has been a favorite thing of mine for years, and that's often true. I have a lot of favorite things, as I'm sure we all do, especially when it comes to food.

But I'm pretty sure that if I had to pick one dessert only to eat for the rest of my life, I'd be pretty comfortable picking the chocolate chip cookie. Some people might claim otherwise, but I've never had a bad chocolate chip cookie in my life, no matter where it came from. Sure, there are better ones than others, but a bad one? No way.

So imagine how weird it was for seven year old me to find out that there was once a time before chocolate chip cookies, and it's basically within living memory!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Julie's Watergate Cake

Served with Cover Up Icing and chock full of nuts!

I've never really been a huge fan of debating or trying to pinpoint the most important moment in history. How is that even something you can quantify? Even if you narrow it down to American history, or recent American history, or American history within the last fifty years, there are so many different candidates for the title that arguing about it has always felt a little pointless and silly to me, like the historian's version of "Could Superman beat Batman in a fight?"

That being said, I don't think anyone could ever question that the Watergate scandal is one of the biggest, most defining moments in American history, especially in terms of the world we live in today. It rocked the nation's trust in the presidency (and politicians in general) and let loose a runaway freight train of journalism and media frenzy that's mutated into the ratings hungry monsters we have to deal with in 2016.

(For the record, while I support what Woodward and Bernstein did, in most cases, I'm not a big fan of the media and what it's turned into.)

So, what does a cake have to do with the biggest scandal in our nation's history?


Bet you didn't see that coming, did you?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Felicity's Election Cake

A bready cake, or a cakey bread designed to get you out to the polls!

So, for the record, I'm really, really sick of all this election talk.

This recipe has nothing to do with feeling the Bern or he who must not be graced with a name, but it is an interesting piece of American history I'd been totally unaware of until I watched an episode of Food Fact or Fiction? on the Cooking Channel. I'm not sure if it's been picked up for another season or not, but the show would present a piece of food lore and then discuss whether or not it was factually true, and it was interesting enough to watch in reruns if you're ever lucky enough to catch it.

So, what segment inspired this post? Well, did you know people used to use cake to bribe people into coming into town to vote?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Molly Visits the National WWII Museum and Makes D-Ration Chocolate Bars

Or: Gwen visited the National WWII Museum and Never Wanted to Leave!

Happy VE Day! Have I got a post for you.

Brace yourselves, guys. This is going to be a long one.

I have been impatiently trying to figure out a time to visit the National World War II Museum for a long time. Shocking, right? I figure by now all of you are familiar with my enthusiasm for this chapter in American (and world) history. I'm not really sure how I first found out about the museum, but I've been plotting and planning to make this trip happen for a while, and this past March, I got to make that dream come true! I spent two days there: one with my family, one by myself, and while I'm pretty sure I saw literally every thing there is to see in the museum, I wouldn't have complained if I spent the last day of our trip there as well.

Just like our past trips to places like the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, or John Adams' homes in Quincy, Massachusetts, I thought it would be fun to tell you all about the museum, and feature a recipe that had to do with out trip. I'm going to tell you right up front that this museum totally deserves its spot as one of the best museums in the world, and absolutely has to be a part of any trip to New Orleans you might be making in the future.

Why is it in New Orleans, you might wonder?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Jane's Pease Pottage & The Great Doll Blog Award

Something to eat when you're singing "it's glory, God and gold and the Virginia Company!"

Four hundred and nine years ago, a group of English settlers ended their long, long journey across the Atlantic ocean and founded the first permanent English settlement in the New World: Jamestown, Virginia. I know I talk about my enthusiasm for World War II all the time, but Jamestown is definitely my second favorite topic to study... closely followed by almost everything else. What can I say, I have a very wide range of interests.

Although I'm sure the members of the Virginia Company were excited to get off their ships and start working on digging for nonexistent mineral riches, they didn't have a lot of options when it came to treating themselves food wise when they began constructing their fort. No cakes, no ice cream, no fancy ribbon cutting ceremonies, probably just a hearty serving of this classic English dish enjoyed - or at least consumed... - by people for centuries.

It might not look like much, but it turns out, this actually isn't that bad. Might not be something I'd like to eat every day, but after months of hardtack and gruel (Pocahontas reference #2), I'd probably be very happy to see it.

But before we get to that, Nonna from Mommy's Doll Club nominated me for The Great Doll Blog Award!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Caroline's Welsh Rarebit

A Regency era favorite snack, lunch or dinner!

So, Welsh rarebit. Kind of a weird sounding food, isn't it? I know I had no idea what it was when I was younger, and just from the word alone, I totally assumed it had something to do with meat. Probably rabbit, especially because sometimes you'll see it spelled "rabbit" on menus or in books. In reality, this is usually a vegetarian dish that has nothing to do with rabbits, and there are a couple different versions of it, most of which are named after different regions of the United Kingdom. What they all have in common is that they're essentially toasted bread with a hot, delicious cheese sauce, spread or just plain old slices of cheese placed on top, and that makes this right up my alley.

I know, I know, I just did a post about grilled cheese. But this is definitely going to be different from just about any grilled cheese you've ever eaten, and it's different in a good way. Promise.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Rebecca's Macaroons

A snack that's perfect for Passover, or just about any other occasion you can think of!

I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of all things coconut, and while I can't tell you when I tried my first coconut macaroon, I can promise you I was a very, very happy camper. They're not a cookie anyone in my family makes routinely (or at all...), and I've never seen someone make them before, so their origin and how to make them was always something of a mystery to me.

That all changed when I was watching Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship, when one of the challenges was centered around revamping traditional Hanukkah cookies. One of the cookies featured were coconut macaroons, and I was totally surprised! I had no idea macaroons were Jewish.

It turns out their history is a little more complicated than that, and it's one I decided I had to share with you guys this Passover. This year, Passover began on Friday at sundown, and is going to end the evening of April 30th, so even though I'm a little bit late, we're still safely in the window for the most important holiday in the Jewish faith.

But before we get into that, and find out why macaroons are a popular Passover dessert, I'm going to provide a quick aside about why Rebecca suddenly has a twin sister.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Kit's Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese, and Tomato Soup Cake

Bet you haven't heard of this one!

My godmother is the person responsible for this post. I, like many of you, had never heard of putting tomato soup in a cake before, and when she first mentioned her grandmother used to make a tomato soup cake all the time, I was more than a little skeptical. I mean, that's just weird, right? You wouldn't put ketchup in a cake, and I'd never heard of putting tomatoes in any baked good that wasn't savory, and even then...

But she insisted it was good, and then I started thinking well, we put zucchini in what's essentially a cake, some people use avocado, and obviously there's carrot or fennel. How weird could tomato soup cake be?

Besides, I'd been wanting to do a feature on one of my favorite comfort food meals, and it's not like you guys need me to tell you how to make Campbell's tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, right?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Emily's Scrambled Eggs "James Bond"

Who knew that the real question wasn't shaken or stirred, but scrambled or over easy?

Sometimes I feel a little funny saying I'm a James Bond fan. I'm very well aware of how the various incarnations of the character are problematic from a number of angles, and some of the movies are pretty bad, and I haven't seen every single one of them, so labeling myself as yes, I am a huge James Bond fan has always felt a little weird.

That being said, I have seen many of the movies, read all of the Young Bond books, which are very good, and I own and have read all of the original novels written by Ian Fleming. It started on a whim, because I was curious about how similar Casino Royale was to the film version, and then I realized the books are both entertaining and a really interesting piece of literary history, even if they're never going to be held up as an example of great British literature.

The thing is, I went in expecting the books to be a lot like the movies, full of action and Bond seducing extremely attractive women and narrowly escaping increasingly elaborate death traps. And all of that's in there! But that's not what Bond seems to spend most of his time doing.

The international man of mystery actually spends a ton of time eating food.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Tea with Valerie Tripp and Friends at Historic Huguenot Street!

A weekend roadtrip that helped me fulfill a childhood dream!

I love living where I do, but sometimes, it does feel a little bit like all the fun stuff happens too far away from me to take advantage of it. All the D23 events? Florida or California. Big time Civil War reenactments? Pennsylvania at the closest. But a couple weeks ago, Doll Diaries posted saying that Valerie Tripp was going to be visiting New Paltz, New York for a book signing and tea at Historic Huguenot Street, a historic site I'd never heard of before. As soon as I realized that hey, New Paltz is only a couple hours away, I knew I had to go. I've been wanting to meet Valerie Tripp since I was a kid! I'm really not exaggerating in saying her books are very much responsible for the person I am today. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to get out, see the sights, and check something off the bucket list.

So I roped my grandparents into going with me and Felicity on this field trip, and headed up north.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Marie-Grace's Red Beans and Rice

My own twist on a classic from the Crescent City!

Like I've said, one of the best things about doing this blog is getting to try making things I never would have considered making on my own. We've gotten to try lots of food I'd never have thought about eating outside of a restaurant before, like the flan I made last weekend, or the nian gao. Anyone remember that one? Hands down the coolest thing I've made for the blog.

The thing is, sometimes my geographic location means making a truly authentic version of a classic dish is going to be difficult, prohibitively expensive, or just totally not going to happen. I'm not importing camas roots from Oregon for a Kaya post, for example. This one caught me off guard a little with how tricky it would be to find the exact right ingredients up north, but with a little creativity, I think we managed to pull this one off.

It's just not exactly your grandma's red beans and rice.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Josefina's Flan

Some good, old fashioned health food that's now better known as a tasty dessert!

Now that I've been doing this blog for over two years, I've become pretty comfortable going out on a limb and trying things I never would've thought of tackling before. Sometimes, this means I need to get creative in the kitchen, and it doesn't always work out as well as I would've hoped.

That's not exactly what happened here, but there were a couple speed bumps along the way in making this classic custardy treat. I'd never had flan before, and I didn't know much about it besides it's something that usually shows up on dessert menus at Mexican restaurants. Could be fun to try, right?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Maryellen's Molded Salad

The one you've all been waiting for!

You probably should have all seen this coming.

Some objects, fashions or foods are just so emblematic of a time period that it's difficult to imagine what life would've looked like back then without it. Take the poodle skirt: a fashion fad that's become so essential to the modern memory of the 1950's that it shows up in every movie, show and 18 inch playline doll collection that focuses on the period, even if it's not strictly accurate to include it every single time. At least American Girl came up with a plausible explanation for Maryellen owning an outfit that was generally more of a teenage fad!

Molded gelatin creations are the poodle skirt of food when it comes to the 50's, alongside diner fare, TV dinners, and a number of other less than healthy options. Some period recipes sound down right upsetting, and at first glance, this recipe doesn't really sound like it's going to be any different. It's got a weird combination of ingredients, doesn't exactly look too visually appealing, but believe it or not, this is actually an old family favorite that's remembered fondly by those who had it before.

I know that sounds strange, but trust me, this one is going to surprise you.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Grace's Chocolate Mousse

Simple, delicious, and probably shouldn't be served in a giant ramekin...

When I first introduced Grace, I mentioned how I'd found out that in France, most people don't make their own desserts. It's customary to purchase them at a local bakery or sweet shop instead. But there are two recipes that are exceptions to this rule: the yogurt cake I tried and slightly failed to make in said intro, and chocolate mousse. Which is what we're going to talk about here!

Chocolate mousse has slightly mysterious - or at least murky - origins. No one really knows when it was invented, but we do know that people have been making mousses since the 1700's, and it did get its start in France. Since Europeans had been enjoying chocolate for almost a hundred years at that point, it's not all that surprising to think that someone got the idea to put the two together! Some researchers think it came to be when people started adding eggs to the customary chocolate drink to make it thicker and foamier, and eventually someone added cream and sugar, and presto! Chocolate mousse.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ivy's Chop Suey

The spaghetti and meatballs of Chinese American cuisine!

We've talked a bit in the history of this blog about the misconceptions regarding some "foreign" additions to American cuisine. People can say all they want that corned beef and cabbage or spaghetti and meatballs aren't authentically Irish or Italian food, but the fact of the matter is that they are authentic Irish American and Italian American. People dismissing them as somehow lesser or not as worth eating just because they didn't come from the mother country are essentially dismissing the history of the people who invented, improved and enjoyed the dishes over the years as being unimportant, and it's a trend I wish people would get over.

Another victim of this slander is chop suey, a dish that's notorious for being a terrible American version of good Chinese food.

But what you might not know is that chop suey isn't actually that American (read: white bread, probably Anglo-Saxon) at all.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Samantha's Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Just like the suffragists used to make!

Ever since 1988, March has been declared Women's History Month in the United States, Great Britain and Australia, even though International Women's Day got its start in 1911. I'm not always good at remembering to do posts that coordinate with anything other than major holidays - and even then, I've inconsistently done things for a couple of the big ones - but this year, I knew I wanted to feature a recipe I'd stumbled upon almost a year ago, and kept meaning to bring out!

These simple, delicate cookies first came on my radar thanks to The American Plate by Libby H. O'Connell, and have an interesting origin that make them something that could very easily have made them a favorite recipe of Samantha or Aunt Cornelia. Read on to find out more!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jane's Cheesecake

What the Pilgrims wanted to eat on the First Thanksgiving!

Wait, what? Gwen, you've got to be kidding us. This can't be a historical recipe. There's no way cheesecake dates back to the 17th century, right?

Well, surprise! It totally does. And it actually has a much, much longer history than that, which is actually pretty well documented compared to some of the other desserts I've shared with you all. The one I made this weekend might not be the New York style cheesecake you're familiar with, but it's still cheesecake, and we might not have the cheesecake we know and enjoy today without this one.

(Might, because who knows. Someone else could've had the idea at some point.)

I know a 17th century cheesecake might sound like a hard sell to some of my readers, but trust me. This one might surprise you!