Sunday, December 24, 2017

Grace's Last Minute Christmas Baking: Santa's Trash Cookies and Holiday Shortbread

Some tasty, last minute additions to any holiday gathering!

In the four years I’ve been doing this blog, there are only two holidays I’ve done a post for every year: VE Day, and Christmas. Sort of a weird pair, right? 

Considering how infrequently I’ve been able to post this past two years, I knew I didn’t want to break my streak, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do this year. The first few years I’ve had this blog, I tried to feature historical recipes for each character, and I’ve shared some of my family’s Christmas traditions in the past as well. I knew I wasn’t going to have time to do the former, and a lot of the latter had already been taken care of by my family members, so I was feeling a little stuck. 

Fortunately, the internet provided some awesome last minute suggestions that I was happy to break out. One didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, but the other might just become a fan favorite. I know I sure liked them! 

Read on to find out how some simple additions can make any cookie nice and festive.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Peek into the Pantry Saves Thanksgiving!

Swooping in to go where few people want to tread!

Well, helped save Thanksgiving anyway. I don’t want to take all the credit! 

The semester is rapidly cycloning to a close (which is why this post is over a week delayed…), and amidst all our final projects and fretting about our research seminars, my cohort and I got to celebrate Thanksgiving. I’m lucky enough to live close enough to home to get to visit family for the holiday, so I packed everything up, threw Nanea in my backpack just in case there were any good photo opportunities for Instagram, and headed home anticipating a nice, unfortunately blog post free weekend. 

Little did I suspect that I was going to end up providing something a little bigger than the cookies I wanted to bake.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Melody Makes Lazy Jane's Weekend Casserole

A no fuss alternative to a French classic!

Colder weather has officially set in, which means it’s time to break out all those comforting, stick to your ribs dishes. (I say as if I haven’t made this dish in the summer time before…) 

Lazy Jane’s Weekend Casserole is a family favorite perfected by my grandmother, and it’s something I always eat way too much of when she makes it for me. When I asked for the recipe and what the history behind the dish was, she told me something that I really wasn’t expecting: it actually has a loose connection to one of the most famous trends in cooking in the 1960’s! Got any ideas what it might be?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

An All American Tea Party at Colonial Williamsburg

Not quite the old Felicity Tea event, but close enough for me!

As you guys know – or as new readers might expect – I love Colonial Williamsburg. Living history is a really interesting, entertaining educational tool, and every time I visit, I come away learning something new and with a lot of fun memories. 

So imagine how excited I was when I heard that Williamsburg was going to be hosting an event this summer that was right up my alley: An All American Tea Party, where kids of all ages could bring a doll along with them, enjoy a tasty tea, make a craft, and enjoy a scavenger hunt with an exclusive prize at the end! Although it's not technically a Felicity themed event because it wasn't officially licensed with Mattel or American Girl themselves, it's pretty clear from the marketing who and what inspired the event.

There was just one problem: I live a good two and a half hours away from Williamsburg, and don’t have a car. 

Fortunately, I’m extremely lucky to have a good buddy who is always up for an adventure, whether it’s a trip to the mall or getting trapped on the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia for three hours because our train home got delayed. Jenna and I got spots at the last seating of the tea, which was September 16. We hopped in the car with Felicity and Elizabeth in tow and set off to see if the All American Tea Party lived up to my childhood experience at the official Felicity themed events.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Jane's Jamestown Tea

Bringing you a taste of history in your teacup!

Last year I picked up a neat little treat from Mount Vernon, and then promptly never got around to writing a blog post about it until over a year later. I guess that’s just my life now. Aren’t you guys going to be glad to hear the end of my complaining about never having enough time to post as frequently as I used to? 

Eastern Shore Tea Co. is a Maryland based company that produces a variety of unique tea blends, several of which are inspired by history. I’ve seen blends drawing their inspiration from the American Revolution and even Edgar Allen Poe! I was excited to see their 1607 Herbal Tea because it’s so unusual to see anything relating to Jamestown food history, especially prepackaged stuff. Read on to find out whether or not this truly would have been something enjoyed in the first permanent English colony in North America!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The National Museum of American History's 3rd Annual Food History Festival!

Many Flavors, One Nation!

Hey, Happy Halloween! 

Whew, it has been a semester! Sorry for falling off the face of the earth again. I think at this point I just need to make peace with the fact that this is going to end up taking the back burner until after grad school. All my free time and writing energy has been going towards my big research project, which I'll tell you guys about once I have time to do it justice. 

I'm catching up with comments and emails right now. Sorry for taking so long to get back to you all. I've also got a couple posts on the back burner which will probably start seeing the light of day sometime around December... if I'm lucky! (Including a super cool trip to Williamsburg!) 

Until then, here's a short update about an event I got to attend with some friends last weekend: the Smithsonian Food History Festival! Read on to hear about our experience this year with Many Flavors, One Nation at the National Museum of American History.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Breakfast from Samantha's Cook Book

A full course breakfast fit for any Turn of the Century enthusiast!

My fiancĂ©e was teasing me the other day about how I secretly want to be a 1920’s society wife a la Downton Abbey or something, and honestly? She might be right. I love thinking of different themed parties to throw, from tea parties, birthdays, holidays, historically themed potlucks… I think this is something that actually goes back to when I was a kid. I loved thumbing through the catalogs we used to get filled with birthday party props and themes. 

Of course, planning and executing these events often takes time, equipment, money, and manpower, plus people to eat whatever food you prepare and I just don’t always have that these days. But I was going home for the weekend last month, and decided I might as well try execute one of these historically themed food parties I’ve been dying to try my hand at. 

So, welcome to Samantha’s Turn of the Century Breakfast!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Ivy Revists Tuna Noodle Casserole

A peek into what I’ve been eating for the last year…

We’re kicking off the start of a new school year with yet another throwback post because last year I had really great intentions about keeping pace with the blog… and then reality kind of threw those off. Whoops. This time, instead of a relic from when I was still living at home, we’re going to take a look at one of my first culinary adventures in my new kitchen. 

So when I first got to grad school, I got really, really sick. Like, can’t hold down any solid food for a week sick. So did my dad apparently, and we think it was either fruit at the hotel we had stayed at’s buffet, or a chicken sandwich, but my mom and brother were eating basically the same food as us, so who knows. Either way, not a good first introduction to a new life in a new city. 

Once I got better, I was faced with the task of making sure I was eating more or less three times a day without the help of anyone else. This sounds fine at first, but in reality takes a bit of adjusting to, even for someone who enjoys cooking like I do. I know that probably sounds silly or maybe even embarrassing that I as a 25 year old hadn’t been fully responsible for feeding myself on a regular basis before this. I ate in dining halls on campus in undergrad and my mom usually made dinner when I lived at home, so this was my first real exposure to how daunting and repetitive meal prep can be. 

Figuring I could make a habit of mixing meal prep with future blog posts – an endeavor that apparently died with this recipe… - I decided to whip out my Betty Crocker New Boys and Girl’s Cookbook and give their recipe for tuna noodle casserole a shot.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

It's Our Fourth Anniversary!: Queen Cakes and a Giveaway!

Kicking off Year Five with a treat!

Hard to believe it’s really been four years, hasn’t it? I know it is for me! When I first started this blog, I had no idea how long I’d keep up with it, or if anyone would even be interested in what I was doing. I was worried about getting a job after college, and really starting to wonder if getting a history degree was a big mistake. 

Four years and over two hundred posts later, I think it’s safe to say this experiment has been pretty successful! Plus, I’m halfway through getting my MA in Public History and have a job I really enjoy, so that’s pretty cool too. 

As a special way of saying thanks to all my loyal readers, I’m hosting a giveaway of something that will hopefully inspire you to take a peek into the pantry too! Read on to find out how to enter.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Emily's Everyday Cake

A ration friendly treat that would have been a fun change of pace for this Brit!

In Brave Emily, the book that accompanied Emily dolls when she was available from American Girl, the spotlight is on how Emily Bennett has been adjusting to life with the McIntires after the events of Happy Birthday, Molly! One of the stand out moments for me when I first read it was Emily’s observations on how the McIntire children felt about their breakfast options. 

Although rationing was an annoying reality of life for Americans during World War II, Emily was used to much stricter rationing and more shortages. In the narration, Emily mentions that she hadn’t even seen a banana in several years before coming to the United States. That moment meant this recipe for an “Every Day Cake” in Rosie’s Riveting Recipes reminded me of Emily, and made her the perfect host of this tasty treat. Got any ideas why? 

Hint: there are no bananas in this cake.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Josefina's Apricot Sponge Cake

Sponge Cake Take 2!

And last but not least from last summer’s recipe vault, here’s Josefina’s apricot sponge cake! I’d been wanting to do a recipe for Josefina with apricots in it for a while. An apricot tree is an important plot point in her stories, and also apricots are in general pretty delicious, so it seemed like a perfect combination. 

Fortunately, the American Girl Party Handbook had a dessert suggestion that sounded pretty promising, and last summer I decided to break it out for a shot.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nanea's Carrot and Pineapple Muffins

A World War II era favorite with a tropical twist!

Everyone, meet Nanea Mitchell! She’s American Girl’s newest historical character, and comes from 1941 Honolulu, Hawaii. I plowed through her books as soon as I had them out of the box, and can safely say as someone who specializes in Pacific War history, they are pretty darn great. Besides covering the attack on Pearl Harbor and the resulting changes in Hawaii very well as well as age appropriately, Kirby Larson has done an exceptional job showing how 1941 Hawaii was an extremely diverse community where neighbors participated in cultural exchange every single day. 

Often involving food. Lots and lots of food. 

Picking what Nanea’s first recipe on the blog should be was a tough one, but these muffins are a tasty snack for just about any time of day, even if I can’t exactly in good faith call these health foods.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Julie's Trip to Disney World

The Most Magical Place on Earth!

Said it before, will say it again: I come from a very Disney family. No, we’re not Annual Pass holders, we’re not locals of any of the parks, nor do we go every single year, but we like it and always manage to have a great time when we go. 

My mom first went to the park with her parents and older brother when she was seven, turning eight in 1972. Back then, there was only Magic Kingdom, and they drove from Connecticut all the way to Florida, making some stops along the way. Since there was just one park, they ended up spending parts of their two week vacation at other Florida tourist attractions. She and her family would go back to visit when she and her brother were in college, and then she and my dad celebrated part of their honeymoon there in 1987. We were actually there for their 30th anniversary, which was why they had booked the vacation in the first place. 

I love Disney history almost as much as I love, well, almost any kind of history. So even though I didn’t plan on doing a huge, drawn out photo adventure while I was there, I still wanted to do a quick write up about the trip. Considering my mom was a girl with long blonde hair and considered rompers to be the height of fashion, the obvious choice in host for this post is, of course, Julie. Read on for some Disney history and talk of tasty food!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Refrigerator Pickles with Rebecca

The perfect no fuss snack for a hot summer day!

I’ve been sitting on this post for almost a whole year, which is both embarrassing and an indication of just how busy I’ve been. Which I know, I know, I’ve been complaining about a lot when I do have the time to post, so I’ll try to hush up about it as I keep trying to clear out my backlog of posts from last summer. 

July is apparently National Pickle Month, which made this one a priority to get out to you guys as soon as possible, or at least before the month was over. Although pickling has been around for thousands of years and the Chinese were the first to invent the modern pickling process, in the US, cucumber pickles have become pretty heavily associated with Jewish immigrants in urban centers like New York. Have you ever wondered why that is? 

Well, read on and wonder no more!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Melody Explores the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Celebrating 50 years of folklife!

In 1967, the first Smithsonian Folklife Festival was held in Washington, DC. Created as a means of encouraging cultural exchange, the festival has been held every summer for the last 50 years. Each year has a different theme, often centered around the culture of a particular country, region, or US state. They’ve managed to feature every region of the US, as well as 90 individual countries. That’s pretty impressive!

The festival is held on the National Mall between the US Capitol Building and the Washington Monument, making it a popular stop for tourists visiting the monuments, museums, and government buildings. Fourth of July is usually sandwiched more or less in the middle of the festival, which runs for two weeks. They’ve got programming running all day, with lots of vendors, artisans, and experts in their field. 

In honor of the 50th anniversary, the festival’s theme this year was more multicultural than usual: Circus Arts! Almost every culture in the world has a circus, right? It also featured programming about migration and the history of the festival. Want to check it out?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Felicity's 4th of July in Washington, DC

Where else can you see the actual Declaration of Independence on America’s birthday?

Is there a better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than Washington, DC? I don’t think so, especially not after the awesome day I had yesterday! Washington in the summer is hot, crowded, and often plagued by metro problems (although that’s definitely not just a summer problem), but if you can make it down to the nation’s capital for the Fourth? I think it’s worth it. 

Why? Well, I’ve got some cool programs to tell you about.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Addy's Washington Pie

A light and flavorful butter cake that’s perfect for any occasion!

Ah, remember when I thought I’d have lots of free time this summer to bake, write my novel, and generally indulge in my favorite hobbies and past times after two long semesters?

Yeah, let’s just say that didn’t happen.

But fortunately, I’m actually sitting on a backlog of posts from last summer, complete with nice pictures in my brightly lit former abode with my wonderful old camera, may it rest in peace. I figured while I’m still trying to find my feet and figure out a time to start featuring new recipes and places to visit, the best place to start might be clearing out my backlog.

And to start us off, I have for you all a really delicious treat that’s allegedly from the Civil War period. The historicity of this recipe is difficult to track down, but it’s a really delicious treat that will be right at home at any summer function you might be holding. Without further ado, let’s get baking!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Maryellen's Chocolate Cake with Coke

Straight out of 1952!

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Coke just as much as the next person, but I’d never thought to put it in a cake before starting to do research for recipes for this blog. Recipes for cakes using soda as an ingredient are more common than you might think, and this southern favorite is an interesting ancestor of those cakes we've been enjoying, especially since the 1990's. Known as Cola Cake, Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake, or basically any variation thereof, it's a solid chocolate cake with a unique ingredient.

Note that you don’t need to use brand name Coca-Cola for this recipe: Coke is the general term for soft drinks in different parts of the south, and any kind of cola beverage will do fine.

Also, it comes with a pretty weird frosting, that I still haven’t decided if I like or not. Maybe you guys will be able to help me make up my mind about it!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Felicity Attends Revolutionary War Weekend at Mount Vernon

A weekend you won't want to miss!

Last month, two of my friends and I packed up and drove to Mount Vernon for Revolutionary War Weekend! It's a two day long event with reenactors (American and British), historically inspired vendors, special exhibits, and a battle reenactment. Mount Vernon is always worth a visit, but I'm especially excited to share a few photos of our time there last month.

(Unfortunately, one of the reasons this post has taken me a long time to write is I'm so fed up of using my phone to take pictures! But fortunately I am in possession of a new camera, and hopefully will get to break that out soon. Please bear with these less than ideal photos!)

An extra treat was getting to meet some representatives from the brand new Museum oft the American Revolution! Got any ideas about what they might have brought with them to show visitors?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Molly's Honey Cookies for VE Day

Help the war effort with this clever sugar substitute!

Happy VE Day everyone! In keeping with tradition, I've decided to fire up my oven and throw together a mini VE Day bash, this time with a couple of my friends from grad school. We're going to watch the new documentary Five Came Back on Netflix, which I've heard good things about. I've read the book it's based on, and I enjoyed that quite a lot, so hopefully it's good!

To give some authentic 1940's flair to our get together, I turned to a cookbook I've been dying to try out.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Maryland Beaten Biscuits with Caroline

Proof that historical bakers didn't mess around!

You know who has two thumbs and is glad the semester's over? This gal. I've still got a busy summer ahead of me, but with most of my final papers and projects behind me, I decided today was as good a day as any to start getting back in the kitchen, this time with a pretty unusual historic recipe from my new neighboring state of Maryland.

Like some recipes I've tackled in the past, I decided to give this one a shot out of curiosity more than anything else because it involves a pretty unique preparation technique. Any guesses what it might be?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Felicity Visits Mount Vernon

Paying a visit to George and Martha!

So, a lot's been going on in the world of American Girl. As I'm sure most of you know, our girl Felicity is back out of the archives and sporting a super pretty new meet outfit! This is exciting to me not only as a Felicity fan, but also because my own Felicity has been in need of a wig transplant for quite some time. A few weeks ago, I bit the bullet, got a new Felicity, and swapped her wig for my Felicity's beat up one, just in time for a field trip to Monticello. I was really excited to take pictures of my old friend all refreshed and sporting her awesome new dress on a gorgeous day at a gorgeous presidential mansion, but then I realized I'm actually one field trip behind when it comes to colonial homes.

(Also, in case you were wondering, BeFelicity was given a new wig of her own. Maybe she'll eventually make appearances around these parts.)

Back in September, I headed out to Mount Vernon with my friends Elizabeth and Jenna with Felicity in tow as usual. We got to eat at a historically inspired restaurant, explore the house and grounds, and meet an old friend of Felicity's. Any guesses on who it might be?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Addy's Field Trip: Happy Birthday Frederick Douglass!

Looking pretty good for a 199 year old man!

Well, I'm part of the way through semester two, Jessi has gone home (we got engaged!!) and the weather has been crazy nice here for the last few days. That means I've been on the look out for fun new places to visit and things to do, and thanks to my friend Ama, I've got a little field trip post for you guys!

February 20th might be President's Day this year, but it was also the birthday of one of the most important figures in the Abolitionist and early Civil Rights movements: Frederick Douglass! To celebrate, the Frederick Douglass House held a variety of events at the house itself and the Anacostia Art Center to tell people about Douglass's life and the world he lived in. My friend Ama heard about the events, and invited our friend Jenna, Addy and I to come along with her. Read on to find out more!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Australia Day with Florence

Sharing some of Florence's favorites with you!

Hi everybody! Remember me? Semester two has been off to a good, but busy start, and certain goings on in the world has sort of made things feel like a garbage fire, but I am still around!

Sort of. One of the other reasons why I've been so busy is that my girlfriend has been visiting from Australia for the month! It's been a lot of fun, but it's meant I haven't had a lot of time to do any cooking or blogging. I've got a ton of posts I've been sitting on, I really should just take a weekend to get them all finished and queued up for posting!

But Jessi surprised me this Thursday by treating me to some Australian favorites for Australia Day! Florence, the Florrie Girl I picked up on our trip to Melbourne, was happy to show them off for all of you!

Australia Day - January 26th - commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet, meaning the first Europeans to settle the continent, which happened in 1788. It's since become a celebration of Australian history, culture, families and diversity, and has come under criticism by Aborigines the same way Native Americans critique Thanksgiving and Columbus Day.

Jessi made lamb chops, broccolini and potatoes for dinner. Lamb is a very popular protein in Australia because convicts could work off their sentences and then become land owners. The plots they received were not big enough to raise cattle, but sheep require less resources, so sheep products like lamb and mutton were and still are very popular in Australia. It's one of the country's largest food exports, and the meat she picked up at the grocery store is actually from Australia!

For dessert, she made lamingtons, which are delightful. You might remember the one I had at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra! It's essentially a sponge cake with chocolate sauce and shredded coconut over the top. Our shredded coconut is a little too big to look like a traditional lamington, but I don't have a food processor, so we had to make do. Believe me, they were still tasty!

And that is how we spent Australia Day! Hopefully next year I can do something a little more intense for you guys. Maybe I'll try my hand at making my own lamingtons... they are really tasty, after all.

Hope you had a happy Australia Day!