HobbiesLeisure activities and interests, including gardening, cooking and collecting
The other day at the library I came across a copy of The White House Cookbook by Janet Halliday Ervin, from 1964. This is not to be confused with the 1987 version, a revised and updated centennial edition of the original White House Cookbook, by Mrs. F. L. Gillette and Hugo Ziemann, which came out ...
May 20, 2009 | By Lisa Bramen
People have been baking bread for millennia, long before kitchen appliances or even cookbooks came along. I've read plenty of books and blog posts advertising "easy homemade bread" recipes, and I want to believe them—but personally, it's always seemed like an unattainable goal, on par with cartwhee...
May 19, 2009 | By Amanda Bensen
I attended a Smithsonian Resident Associates lecture this week by Fred Czarra, author of the new book, "Spices: A Global History." I can't say I came away with a clear overview of the global spice trade, but I did gain a sprinkling of loosely connected facts. I'll pass them on to you, in case it co...
May 15, 2009 | By Amanda Bensen
Author Jessica Helfand investigates the history of scrapbooks and how they mirror American history
May 14, 2009 | By Megan Gambino
Smithsonian associate editor Bruce Hathaway guest blogs for us, chiming in about his love for solar cooking:The first days of May here in the Washington, D.C., area are usually ideal for solar cooking. The recent spate of rain-filled days has kept us from truly enjoying the out doors, but it won't ...
May 07, 2009 | By admin
The so-called "swine flu" is making the pork industry sick. Sure, public health officials say it's as safe as ever to eat pork, but many consumers seem to have lost their appetite for "the other white meat" in recent weeks. Not our sister blogger, Sarah, however! As today's guest writer, our scienc...
May 04, 2009 | By Amanda Bensen
Quinoa (say it: keen-wah) may sound new and exotic to many Americans, but it's actually been around for at least 5,000 years. The Inca called it the "mother grain" and considered it a sacred gift from the gods. I have a similar reverence for quinoa: It's close to nutritionally perfect, low-fat and ...
April 29, 2009 | By Amanda Bensen
I'm getting married soon, which means registering for gifts, which means much rejoicing in the kitchen. Last week, a set of Le Creuset enameled cast-iron cookware arrived on my doorstep. I have been reading and hearing great things about this stuff for years now—how evenly it distributes heat, how ...
April 27, 2009 | By Amanda Bensen
If you've ever wondered, What would Jesus eat?—or Moses or Esau, for that matter—then the cookbook-cum-hermeneutical text Cooking with the Bible: Biblical Food, Feasts, and Lore will enlighten you, or at least offer an informed guess.Written by Rayner W. Hesse, Jr., an Episcopal priest, and Anthony...
April 09, 2009 | By Lisa Bramen
A select group of adventurers climb the world’s tallest trees to learn more about the wildlife that lives on the highest branches
March 31, 2009 | By Peter Beland
As bad as the economy seems right now, it’s been worse—much worse. As in, ketchup-soup-for-dinner worse. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, although few people were outright starving, filling the belly sometimes called for resourcefulness.Some people took to riding the rails in search of wo...
March 27, 2009 | By Lisa Bramen
Remember Hung Huynh, the Season Three winner of cable television's Top Chef? And remember that really weird ingredient he used to create a dish one of the judges called "three-star worthy"? It was some kind of funky mollusk, like a clam on steroids, shaped in a way that tends to make folks giggle....
March 04, 2009 | By Amanda Bensen
It not only doesn't taste like chicken, it's not even poultry. Learn how to cook a geoduck, a large clam
March 01, 2009 | By Sarah Zielinski
Tomorrow is the final day of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday month. Most people only get a daylong birthday celebration, but most people didn’t put forth a revolutionary theory that’s influential two centuries later, now, did they?
One of the more interesting food-related events commemorating the ...
February 27, 2009 | By Lisa Bramen
Talk about niche publishing: Could you direct me to the “automotive cooking” section of the bookstore, please?If such a section exists, you’ll find at least one book there: “Manifold Destiny,” a humorous “Guide to Cooking On Your Car Engine” that has become something of a cult favorite since its 19...
December 02, 2008 | By Amanda Bensen
Part of the sea glass hunting elite, Nancy and Richard LaMotte are finding the treasures they covet harder to come by
October 07, 2008 | By Abigail Tucker
The author of Old Masters, New World discusses how 19th century American collectors acquired European masterpieces and what it meant for museums and our nation.
August 12, 2008 | By Alison McLean
A recently acquired stamp collection opens a new page on the teenage Beatle-to-be
September 2005 | By Owen Edwards
Cars that run on vegetable oil? Do-it-yourselfers and entrepreneurs alike fill 'er up with the nation's fastest-growing propellant
September 2005 | By Frances Cerra Whittelsey
How a cultivated dislike of gardening can lead to more time on the porch
August 2005 | By Ann Hodgman