Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kirsten's Swedish Rice Porridge

Which might sound a little unusual, but is actually quite good!

Comfort food hits the spot any time of year, but warm porridge has been a winter favorite since we learned how to cook with fire. I've recently rediscovered the joys of oatmeal, but I'll fully admit, I'd never heard of someone making rice porridge for breakfast before. Cream of wheat, grits, sure, but not something that basically sounded kind of like a warm rice pudding.

Not that I've ever actually eaten a lot of rice pudding before.

Still, with the good luck I've been having recently with authentic American Girl recipes, I was hoping this would be a stress free, fun way to spend a snow day. A couple speedbumps later, and I'm ready to share the results with you! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Molly's Easiest Chocolate Layer Cake

Complete with secret ingredient!

To round off our mini adventure into the history of chocolate, we're revisiting my favorite historical period and my favorite way to eat chocolate with a World War II era cake. This one is a little bit different from those I've made in the past, and while it might sound a little strange, I promise, it's actually not weird at all.

Is it just me, or does it seem like most of the recipes I've done this month have come along with that disclaimer?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Kit's Cincinnati Chili

Is it chili? Is it sauce? Is it both?

Chili? What's this you say, Gwen? I thought we were doing an all chocolate spree for the next few weeks!

Don't worry, we still are! The chocolate's just a lot more subtle in this recipe than most of the other treats we've made on the blog. Cincinnati chili got its start in the 1920's, and it's definitely not the chili con carne you might be used to. I'd never had it before, but I'd heard of it, and it seemed like a really interesting addition to this line up of chocolate I've thrown together.

As an added bonus, the version we're making today isn't a dish that just shares its name with Kit's home town. It comes straight from Kit's Cooking Studio, so you can eat it knowing you're enjoying it the same way our favorite plucky girl reporter might have. If, you know. She wasn't fictional.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Samantha's Brownies

Who needs box mix brownies when you've got these?

Next up on my unintentional adventure through chocolate history is one of my favorite chocolate treats: the humble brownie! There's just something about a chewy, rich brownie that really hits the spot, especially when you get to eat them when they're still warm. Another reason they're one of my favorites? They're crazy easy to throw together when you need to bring in a baked good for work, or a party! Box mix brownies taste so good, sometimes I almost wonder why anyone would ever bother making them from scratch.

Recipes like this might just be the answer.

Now, I have made some from scratch brownies before (you may remember the s'mores brownies I made earlier this year!), but I'd never done much thinking about their origins before. It's a dessert that just kind of feels like it's been around forever, right?


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Josefina's Champurrado

Just the thing for a chilly day!

I love chocolate. I'm sure that doesn't come as a surprise, if you've been around these parts for long enough. But I usually try not to just make recipe after recipe using chocolate as a central ingredient.

This month? Is kind of accidentally turning into a chocolate history lesson. Until February, we're going to be talking about different ways people have used chocolate to make food just a little more interesting and delicious.

To kick it off, we're going to talk about champurrado, a hot, thick Mexican drink that can trace its history back to the first people who discovered the joys of eating chocolate and is still enjoyed by people today! That's some serious longevity! It's basically hot chocolate, but with a secret ingredient that makes this have an incredibly unique texture and thickness. Even if it doesn't turn out to be your new go to hot chocolate recipe, you'll be glad you tried it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Felicity's Twelfth Night Cake

Perfect for any Governor's Ball!

Last year, my parents and I took a quick trip down to Colonial Williamsburg in December to finally experience the festivity that is Williamsburg at Christmas. You can read about the trip on the blog, but to recap, we learned that in Felicity's time, most people didn't care much about Christmas. People in the New England colonies didn't celebrate it at all! In Virginia, families might put out pine boughs and holly (and mistletoe!), but there generally weren't big parties or family gatherings on December 25th proper.

Instead, most of the big events were saved for the last day of the Christmas season: January 5th, Twelfth Night! In Felicity's Surprise, she and Elizabeth are invited to attend a dance lesson at the Governor's Palace on the 5th, where they no doubt would have been served delicious treats much like the cake I baked this weekend. The recipe might seem a little intimidating at first glance, but it was a breeze to make, and turned out to be one of the tastiest things I've made this holiday season.

Which is saying something. Most of the stuff I've made over the last few weeks has come out pretty well!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Addy's Hoppin' John

Starting off the New Year with some good luck!

Kicking off 2016, today we made Hoppin' John, a dish straight from Addy's Cook Book. Although it's a dish you can make and enjoy year round, the cook book's introduction to Addy's dinner specifically says that Addy's mother would make a big batch of it for everyone in the boarding house to enjoy on New Year's Day. Addy's Auntie Lula would make it for their family on the plantation, just like many other slaves did, as they believed that eating a humble meal on New Year's Day would bring them good luck in the coming year. This was a tradition that Addy and her family continued in freedom, and likely introduced to their Northern neighbors who weren't familiar with the custom.

Black eyed peas are originally from Africa, and it's believed that they were brought along with some of the first slave ships from Africa to the New World. Some food historians believe that Hoppin' John might be similar to food that was given to the slaves en route to America, or could just be based on recipes from several West African countries that people preserved when they were ripped from their homes and forced into enslavement on a new continent. Black eyed peas on their own are also considered symbols of good luck because they were one of the only foods Union soldiers didn't steal from Confederate food supplies during the Civil War, which was a huge help to starving troops and civilian populations when the Union Army used scorched earth tactics. This belief has crossed regional and ethnic boundaries, and has led many people to believe eating them on New Year's Day will bring you luck, just like Addy and her family did.

Hoppin' John is still enjoyed by many people in the south regardless of background, as former slaves brought the recipe with them when they moved to different parts of the country and introduced it to people who had never had it before. But who exactly is Hoppin' John?