This weeks Works For Me Wednesday hosted by Shannon of Rocks in my Dryer is a greatest hits edition. This is one of my favorites since it is still benefiting us today.
I wrote this about 2 years ago and then reposted it for WFMW over a year ago. The great thing is that this study instilled a great love for cooking and baking in our children. In fact–the oldest just made sugar cookies from a recipe which she only had part of the ingredients for and had to adapt the rest. They turned out wonderful.
Cooking our way through History
Originally posted on Heather.shamusyoung.com (which is now long gone) then on http://gracedbychrist.com–with some editing–if you think I am wordy now you should have read this before the edit.
It all began with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Rachel, then 8, wanted to see it desperately. We felt she was a bit young for it but knew she loved the audio book of it. We also wanted her to have the joy of reading it herself–at that point due to her dyslexia she hated reading.
We told her we would take her if she read the book on her own and also learned about World War II. We figured she wouldn’t finish it but if she did it would take several months. She read it in one day. I had to find a suitable way to teach her and her sister, Esther, (age 6 and who would naturally be sitting in if it was at all interesting) about WWII.
At the library I researched WWII while they went off to find their own books. It was then that I discovered that there were more books about the American Girls than just the story books. I picked up Welcome to Molly’s World and Molly’s Cookbook and a children’s cookbook of English foods. I checked them out as well as numerous other books about that time, both here in the U.S. and in the rest of the world.
I found that the girls responded best to the books with lots of pictures and good explanations of those pictures and they especially loved the cookbooks. For several days we read all about WWII, being careful which stories we talked about and which pictures I explained because of Esther’s compassionate nature. The thing that caught their interest most were the recipes. We read the background information in each cookbook first, making sure they really understood the culture which spawned these foods, how they made them, and why. We then perused the recipes deciding what we might like to make. Many of the foods in “Molly’s Cookbook” they already knew but they loved the explanations of why they were made. We tried several of the recipes, with Rachel reading the ingredients and Esther gathering them, then working together to make the food.
The English foods were not as appealing to them, with the exception of the biscuits and scones. Rachel and Esther both took one look at the meat pies and emphatically said “No, thank you.” Even the Turkish Delight they found very disappointing.
By the time we were done with the project, Rachel was ready to see the movie. Understanding what the Pevensey children were eating and why gave her a good hook to hang what was going on in the world in that time on. She loved that she knew what Turkish Delight was and actually cringed when Edmund took a bite.
When it was time to take the books back they asked to study another time in American History using cookbooks. Since then we have worked our way through Colonial days, Pioneer days, the Oregon Trail, the Revolutionary War, and several other periods of U.S. History. We have even begun cooking our way through other cultures, being careful to study abut the culture and not just make their foods. Not only have our three children the youngest, Issac, is 4 gained a better understanding of the diverse people of God’s world but also they have learned many different cooking styles with a variety of foods.
Rachel and Esther now love to make meals when I am unable. One day they will make pinto bean tortillas, the next Chinese vegetables with noodles, and the next they will beg me to make fortune cookies or scones.
We have discovered that cooking our way through history and world cultures is a wonderful way to explore God’s world and our own heritage. It has helped us as we study the lives of past and pray for current missionaries as well as learn about other aspects of our American Heritage. It has also helped me a great deal as they have also discovered the joy of cooking and baking, as well as many other skills such as reading instructions and the chemical reactions that take place when foods are cooked. In fact only a few weeks ago I came home from work to find that Rachel (with permission and a bit of oven help from her father) had baked biscuits for the family.
The pictures above are of the kids making pioneer style Salt Rising Bread with a recipe taken from my 1919 Lowney’s Cookbook. That was two years ago–they were so small! Now Rachel often makes a full 3 course meal on her own and wants to set the table with the good table cloth and china.