Monday, February 17, 2014

American Girl Cookbooks Reveiw

So I've been meaning to do this review for almost two months now and I've had the pictures for it sitting on my computer for just as long. I finally actually tried a recipe from one of these cookbooks last night, so waiting so long at least has let me include pictures of that in here.

Last Christmas I had asked my parents to get me the American Girl cookbooks for a gift when they were looking for gift ideas. I had Felicity's growing up because she was my favorite and that's it. When American Girl was still owned by Pleasant Company, during the 90's they put out a series of books for each of their historical characters and one of the series included cookbooks. Each book gives recipes for different meals of what might have been eaten during the girls' day. They also included historical facts about cooking and party planning tips. These books have been out of print for awhile and only included the first six historical characters; Felicity, Josefina, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, and Molly. I believe they've released some newer cookbooks for other characters but are in a different format than the ones I'm talking about today.

Ignore the sandy rug,



I'll start out with pictures of Felicity's since I'll be going chronologically. I'll say right now these books are something I just wanted to look at and have in my collection because I'm a vegetarian, so most of these recipes are useless to me even though I could substitute some things for more modern soy products. I've always loved history but I'm more interested in the domestic side of it and how they lived everyday life instead of wars and politics, so these cookbooks have always been of interest to me. I'm only going to do a few pictures of the recipes in the books because doing all of them would take ages to go through and read, but hopefully this will give you a good idea of what's in each book.

Felicity's Cookbook



Each book starts out with a general section about the particular eras ways of cooking and the technology they had to work with.


Through out the book there's various facts about livestock, farming, and cooking methods which I found were very fun to read.


I found this really interesting and how something could evolve so quickly over only a couple of hundred years.


The books are divided into four different sections; breakfast, lunch/dinner, supper, and favorite foods. Each section has a couple of pages talking about each meal in that day and very beautiful pictures of each character cooking.

 


A couple of examples of the different recipes through out Felicity's book. Felicity's recipes are relatively simple given her time period and location. Out of all the cookbooks I have from this series, this one is in the best condition because it was bought new while the ones I just got are used, which doesn't really bother me.

Josefina's Cookbook 



Josefina's cookbook is a little different than the others because it begins with a glossary of Spanish words used in the book. This is very useful to me because I never took Spanish in high school and took French instead. Josefina's cookbook is a little more rarer and expensive than the others because it was printed for a shorter time because she was a newer character when these were being made. Of course Josefina's was the one I wanted the most because I love Mexican food.



I really love the pictures they recreated of the characters cooking in these books and may have been one of the reasons I wanted them so much.


Before this I never even considered making tortillas myself, but it's an interesting thing to know how to do.

Sorry about the blurry picture!
 The red chili sauce was eaten with a lot of the other recipes in the book.




 This amused my sick sense of humor.


Each book has a section at the back which gives party ideas to host a party like the ones the characters' would have hosted or attended.

Josefina's cookbook definitely offers unique recipes to the Americans this book was aimed at. I can't wait to try some of these out when I get the chance to.

Kirsten's Cookbook


 Kirsten's cookbook features hearty recipes that have a Swedish twist to represent her family's heritage, there's even a recipe for St. Lucia buns. A lot of the recipes seem heavy and full of carbs which means they're probably delicious, but not very diet friendly.


I've never made homemade bread before but this sounds delicious because I love store bought rye bread.







Kirsten's book also is the first one to feature real photographs from her time, for example this woman using an outdoor oven.

Kirsten's cookbook was fun to read for me because she's one of my favorite characters, so it was interesting to see what kind of food she might have eaten besides the sets that were made for her.


Addy's Cookbook


Addy's cookbook is in the worst condition and looks like it's been used many times. There's water stains and it belonged to a library in Brooklyn before it came to me.


Addy's cookbook has a lot of Southern recipes in it. I haven't tried a lot of Southern food before since I'm from the Northeast, but a lot it sounds good to me.




These sound really good to me.



Example of the water stains I was talking about before.


Addy's book also has few desserts that sound tasty to me too.

Overall Addy's book was interesting to me because it featured a lot of recipes I wasn't really familiar with and also gave some background on how slaves cooked and what they were allowed to have and what they couldn't. I thought I had taken more photos of the other things like facts and photos but I guess I forgot. :(

Samantha's Cookbook


Samantha's book is different because it features lavish Victorian and Edwardian recipes and the etiquette that went along with it.


A chart showing the proper way to set the table.






These sound really good to me since I absolutely love ice cream.




Samantha's book has recipes for the three typical meals they would of eaten in her day but it also features lighter food to go along with tea. Samantha's might be one of my favorites because I love sweets and it has a lot of those too.

Molly's Cookbook


Molly's cookbook is the last one in the series and it has more recipes that look more familiar to modern readers.





I had to take a picture of it because it looked so disgusting to me. Please just give me the vegetables by themselves and not with jell-o. I've always hated jell-o and I especially hate it after seeing how gelatin is made on a historic show.

Gag



This is the recipe I ended up trying and it was delicous! My mom and brother also liked it and my dad even tried it and he usually won't try anything without meat in it.



I really liked it and will be making it again. I did end up using spicy tomato juice instead of plain and that really added flavor to it. I also left out the tomato it mentioned to add since we didn't have any in the house but I don't think it needed it. It was very thick and stew lick and full of yummy vegetables. 

I'm really glad I ended up getting the rest of the books I didn't have. I enjoy the historic facts and photos included in them. I also like most of the recipes included because they're generally things I've never had or heard of before. The only thing I wish was included was nutrition facts because that's something I keep track of and they would be helpful. If you can find them I'd encourage you to get these because they're very fun to look at and read. I just wish American Girl made cool tie in products like this still for their older and newer characters and for a new generation of girls to enjoy.



Thank you for reading!


~Heather

9 comments:

  1. I am unbelievably jealous! I'm dying to get my hands on Sam, Josefina and Addy's cookbooks, but I've just been incredibly lazy about hunting down copies on eBay or Amazon. I love how they each have different details and things to focus on like table manners and Spanish terms. The soup looks delicious: definitely adding that to the list of things to make in the near future!

    You might enjoy Julie's Cooking Studio, it's got a lot of vegetarian friendly recipes in it, or at least dishes that can be made vegetarian a lot easier than a colonial meat pie!

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    1. You'll get them some day! I think Sam's and Addy's are pretty cheap too on amazon.

      I'll definitely get Julie's, thanks for the suggestion! It's really cheap on amazon and I'll have to pick up Kit's too.

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  2. These look really neat! Thanks for the review; I've been wondering whether these were worth picking up or not!

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    1. No problem! They're really fun to look at.

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  3. Wow, awesome! I have all the cookbooks and the cooking studios (and Kit and Sam's Friendship books, which also have recipes in them). Addy's is probably my favorite, followed by Josefina's because I grew up in Texas and have a love affinity with Mexican food. If there's one thing AG has gotten right, it's that they focus more on day to day domestic life instead of the stuff we always got in school--the presidents and politics and such.

    I didn't even think about how there's a lack of vegetarian recipes--well I did in that many people back then wouldn't have been. Hopefully many of the other things will be good for you!

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    1. Yes I knew there wouldn't be many when I bought them because it wasn't really a more widespread thing in America until around 1900, and I'm sure few people actually were. I really wanted them anyways though.

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  4. Great review! When I first heard about the AG cookbooks, I figured they'd be pretty boring, but you've completely demolished that misconception--these look so cool! Now I want to find a few and try my hand at some of the recipes. Your soup looks like it turned out wonderfully--I can almost smell it from here... it would be the perfect soup for a cold winter's night.

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  5. I've been wondering for a long time whether these cookbooks were worth searching out, and now I'm convinced they definitely are. Josefina's in particular looks fantastic (pumpkin empanadas! Do want!). Your soup looks delicious!

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  6. This was great! Thanks for posting. The cookbooks look so fascinating! I loved the American Girl series when I was growing up and I didn't know these cookbooks ever existed. The information about how they prepared meals in the different time periods looks really interesting! I'd try a recipe if I could!

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