A Culinary Road Trip at AAS

We at AAS are excited to be embarking on a culinary road trip this summer! What’s a culinary road trip, you might ask? A culinary road trip is an AAS social media series featuring AAS staff members traveling back in time and across the country (we’re not really doing either, but it’s fun to imagine) … Continue reading A Culinary Road Trip at AAS

The Summer of Smearcase

As we wind down a summer with limited travel and with conferences postponed or transitioned online, I can’t help but reminisce about a summer in the far distant past (last year) when two bright young AAS staff members, who really enjoy food (and sweet treats), descended upon the city of Baltimore in search of local … Continue reading The Summer of Smearcase

So you think you can bake? Nineteenth-Century Edition

The Art of Confectionery title page

Kristina Bush is a rising senior at Mount Holyoke College. She majors in medieval studies and minors in public history, museums, archives, and digital humanities. Kristina is currently working at the American Antiquarian Society as a summer page in readers’ services. Being an avid book-lover and history nerd, Kristina has greatly enjoyed her time at … Continue reading So you think you can bake? Nineteenth-Century Edition

Oil of toads and the perishable arts


As visions of baked goods dance through the pages of holiday Instagram, we bloggers at Past is Present have decided to take a look at some of our historical manuscript cookbooks to see what early American bakers were cooking up instead. Like our fellow bloggers at Cooking in the Archives and the experts at Colonial Williamsburg, … Continue reading Oil of toads and the perishable arts

Cooking the Old Colony Cake

So the Old Colony Cake didn’t turn out too bad!  While the ingredients were identical to traditional cake recipes, the ratios were a bit different.  The result was very thick batter and a dense cake, but the lemon added a much needed bright flavor.  Not sure which way to add the lemon, I added both … Continue reading Cooking the Old Colony Cake

New Year’s on the Potomac

Over the past few months, we’ve been following our Civil War soldier Henry Joslin while his company was on picket duty on the banks of the Potomac.  Last we heard Henry and his Company were involved in a skirmish in late October.  Now in the New Year, 150 years ago, Henry is writing home to … Continue reading New Year’s on the Potomac

Recipe Squashed!

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving feasts!  Hopefully you didn’t overload too much on pumpkins, squash and sweet potatoes.  If you can still stomach thinking about food, read on about the results of my historical pie adventure.  I chose to follow the pumpkin pie recipe (from The White House Cookbook, 1877), but to mix … Continue reading Recipe Squashed!

Apple Pie Bake-Off Or The Sweet Taste of Revenge


In the October 1813 Report of the Committee, Isaiah Thomas justified the choice of Worcester for the home of the American Antiquarian Society. He maintained that an “inland situation” offered the best protection against, the destruction so often experienced in large towns and cities by fire, as well as from the ravages of an enemy, … Continue reading Apple Pie Bake-Off Or The Sweet Taste of Revenge

Apple Pie Recipe

Adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon ground allspice Pinch of cardamom 1/8 teaspoon salt 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar 2 ½ pounds apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into 10 wedges 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Basic Pastry Dough … Continue reading Apple Pie Recipe

Let them eat cake

Syllabub recipe

If one thing connects Americans over the centuries, it’s dessert. Vanilla may have replaced rose water, the electric mixer (even the egg beater) may be heavenly gifts from a sympathetic large-bicepped ancestor, but the recipes (and the tastes) are remarkably similar. The first cookbook published in America, Amelia Simmons’ 1796 American Cookery, offers recipes for … Continue reading Let them eat cake

Pound Cake Recipe

Trade Card, Ephemera Collection, Box 4 #0155

Pound Cake from The Ultimate Book of Baking by Martha Day, 2005 12 servings ?2 cups flour ?1 teaspoon baking powder ?1 cup (2 sticks butter) ?1 cup sugar ?grated rind of 1 lemon ?1 teaspoon vanilla extract ?4 eggs 1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 9-x5-inch loaf pan. 2. Sift the … Continue reading Pound Cake Recipe