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?