Cryppys, Crisps: 14th-century Fritters?

Cryppys, often called crisps, are another type of fried honey-flavored treat from 14th-century England. Unlike crispels, crisps are considered fritters because they are made with batter instead of pastry dough. Many sweet fritters of the era contained fruits (especially apples) or other ingredients like almonds. This particular recipe is very basic, containing only flour, egg whites…

The Tragic Life of ‘Bloody’ Mary Tudor

We view the past through our own moral lens, often finding ourselves at odds with the views of people long gone. When we find that our modern sensibilities contradict the opinions of past communities we should ask ourselves why that is. Are we more enlightened? Are we better people? Or are we simply basing our modern…

Hydraulis, Hydraulikon

The story of the pipe organ begins in the 3rd century BC with the invention of the hydraulis.

An Ox Died. The Making of The Oregon Trail

Few video games have made such an impression on generations of school children as The Oregon Trail. As an elementary student in the ’90’s I vividly recall looking forward to “computer lab,” which was basically Oregon Trail Quiet Hour with a few desperate minutes of Mavis Beacon typing lessons thrown in to justify all the wasted educational time. The…

Death and the Plague Doctor

The year is 1630. You live with your family in Milan, Italy, where you were born and raised. You grew up hearing tales of the Black Death wiping out entire towns in the late 1300’s. It was said that the world had lost a third of its population by the year 1400. And there you were,…

BE MINE. Love, Esther Howland

Believe it or not, Valentine’s Day existed long before Hallmark and holiday-themed jewelry ads. Valentine greetings were popular even before roses became the “flower of love” or kindergarteners crafted valentine boxes (arguably the best activity in all of K-12). Valentine’s Day goes back to ancient Rome and early Christianity but nobody seems to know exactly…

Typhoid Mary

Mary Mallon was born in Ireland in 1869 and moved to the United States in probably 1884, if what she told her friends was true. Like many other Irish immigrants, she paid the bills as a domestic servant to wealthy families in New York. Eventually she discovered that cooking was her thing and settled into a…