Friday, November 6, 2015

Eat Your U.S. History Homework

I had the opportunity to review Eat Your U.S. History Homework: Recipes for Revolutionary Minds, by Ann McCallum Books. This hardcover book is 48 pages in length and contains recipes for 6 scrumptious dishes and desserts. What better way to learn history than to eat your way though it. Your students will go back in time to explore food and history from the arrival of the Pilgrims to the end of the Revolutionary War. 

When I was offered the opportunity to review this book I couldn't help but think of the old excuse, "The dog at my homework". Well, now your students can truly say that they got to eat their HOMEWORK!! As I read the introduction I couldn't help but laugh when it said that the recipes have been modernized. If a recipe called for bear grease, well instead you will use a stick of butter. Not too fond of skinning a squirrel, well no problem because there is a substitution for that too. 

Each recipe featured in the book begins with a historical background of how the recipe came to be. The recipes included in the book are:

  • Thanksgiving Succotash
  • Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt
  • Lost Bread
  • Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes
  • Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies
  • Independence Ice Cream
Each recipe also contains a side dish and summary of the historical significance. Have you ever heard of Ash Bread? Well, it was a bread that was prepared by the soldiers during the war. It was made of flour and water, and then baked on the ashes of the fire. 

At the end of the book is a History Review that briefly reviews from the Pilgrims in 1620 to The Declaration of Independence in 1776. 

Throughout the book the students will find words in bold print that may be new and unfamiliar to them. These words can be found in the Glossary

Let The Fun Begin

I used this book with my 7th, 4th, and 2nd grader. They are all girls, and they all love to be in the kitchen. They were so excited when I told them that they would get to cook/bake for school. 

~ Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies ~

My 7th grader made these cookies and everyone absolutely loved them. With a large family you can imagine they did not last long. This recipe will definitely be a one that we will make again. The cookies were soft and chewy, yum!!!

Did you know that it was considered un-American to drink tea during the Revolutionary War period? Tea, since it was brought over from England, was often frowned upon. So what did they drink with their cookies? Well, coffee of course. 

While doing some research into this particular cookie I came upon this interesting tidbit of information:

Why do we Americans choose "cookies" over "biscuits?"

The answer to this is probably twofold: (1) Our early Dutch heritage and (2) Our revolutionary tradition of separating ourselves from "all things British."

"Early English and Dutch immigrants first introduced the cookie to America in the 1600s. While the English primarily referred to cookies as small cakes, seed biscuits, or tea cakes, or by specific names, such as jumbal or macaroon, the Dutch called the koekjes, a diminutive of koek (cake)...Etymologists note that by the early 1700s, koekje had been Anglicized into "cookie" or "cookey," and the word clearly had become part of the American vernacular. Following the American Revolution, people from other parts of the country became familiar with the cookie when visiting New York City, the nation's first capitol, a factor that resulted in widespread use of the term." 

---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 317)

~ Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes ~

My 2nd and 4th grader made these corn cakes. The cakes tasted much like regular corn bread only they were made like pancakes. My kiddos topped the hoe cakes with butter and honey, yum!!!

Hoe cakes were a staple food on the plantations. They were easy to make. One only needed corn, water, a pan, and a small fire. In further research into these tasty cakes, we came upon a very interesting article entitled, How the Hoe Cake (Most Likely) Got Its Name?

Final Thoughts

We really had a blast with this book. Who said that learning history has to be dry and boring?! I have never seen my children so eager to learn history. I would definitely recommend this book to fellow educators and homeschoolers. This book is a great way to get your kiddos excited about learning.

To read more reviews click HERE.


  1. We had fun with this one too! We haven't made the Hoe Cakes yet, but excited to soon!

  2. We made the same two recipes! Too funny. Those cookies were delicious!

  3. Thank you for this wonderful review. I love the step by step pictures. It looks like tons of fun! Thanks again for sharing this.