lessons learned, teaching, writing, writing process

What Workshop Taught Me about Writing

My husband Josh and I are both middle school teachers, and this means that we spend a lot of time talking about teaching. (Sometimes this drives my sister crazy.) We teach different subjects (him: English; me: history) at different schools with wildly different populations, so most of the time this leads to productive, interesting conversations that… Continue reading What Workshop Taught Me about Writing

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19th century, lessons learned, ohio

Both Past and Present

What would it be like to live in two eras at once? Last week I read a beautiful and thought-provoking piece about working at a living history museum, by the blogger and historic gastronomist Sarah Lohman. "Living My Best 1848 Life," posted at Lapham's Quarterly blog, recounts Lohman's experience working as a first-person interpreter at an Ohio… Continue reading Both Past and Present

18th century, confusing recipes, dessert, disaster, fruit, hannah glasse, lessons learned

Apple pie

Sometimes you get old recipes right the first time: you decipher the flowery language, you make the right substitutions, you determine the correct proportions. And sometimes, well, you don't.This is a story of when I got it wrong.We begin in apple season. I've been buying apples nonstop at the farmers' market every Saturday, and sometimes… Continue reading Apple pie

canada, cleaning, domesticity, family, homesteading, honesty, lessons learned, vacation

Hand wash only (II)

A few days ago, I started thinking about the difficulties of looking at the past through rose-colored glasses. Let's face it: life without electricity, equal voting rights, or antibiotics would be way harder. To explore this point further, let's look at life without two rather nice appliances (albeit just for the two weeks that we… Continue reading Hand wash only (II)

canada, domesticity, family, homesteading, honesty, lessons learned, vacation

Hand wash only (I)

It's easy to wax nostalgic about the "good old days," that halcyon golden age when kids didn't do drugs or drink underage, and life was simpler, without cell phones and social media complicating things. (Yes, I'm guilty of this!) There are a few things wrong with this kind of thinking, though: first, the "good old… Continue reading Hand wash only (I)

20th century, baking, confusing recipes, dessert, disaster, lessons learned, settlement cookbook, vacation

Himmel torte

We just returned from a week in Maine with Josh's family. A gorgeous lake house near the town of Casco served as our home base, and we spent the week swimming, kayaking, reading, and playing games. The men-folk cooked almost every meal on the grill, while the women-folk engaged in some serious salad-making and baking.… Continue reading Himmel torte

18th century, 19th century, activities, american frugal housewife, health, homesteading, how-to, lessons learned, little house cookbook, thrift

How to render suet for cooking

Back when I first started this blog, I learned a few things right away about historical cooking. First, some old recipes are very similar to their modern counterparts (like pie). Second, animal fat is wonderful. From salt pork to lard, it's all delicious.Lard may have fallen out of favor with the onset of fat-free food,… Continue reading How to render suet for cooking