Each challenge takes place over two weeks. Challenges should be completed within the allotted window to count towards completion of a marathon. Themes may be interpreted as creatively as you choose, with any recipes falling before 1960. Enjoy!
1. Meat-and-Potatoes (January 1 - January 14) They’re a staple for the tables in the most rustic cottages as well as the fanciest banquet tables - and it’s also an idiom meaning a staple or the most basic parts of something. Make a historic “meat-and-potatoes” recipe - however you interpret it.
2. Culinary Vices (January 15 - January 28) Some foods are really, really naughty. Globs of butter, lashings of sugar and syrup, decadent chocolate and wine. Bring out your naughty, indecorous side with foods associated with all the bad things, in the best ways.
3. History Detective (January 29 - February 11) For this challenge, you get to be the detective! Either use clues from multiple recipes to make a composite recipe, or choose a very vague recipe and investigate how it was made.
4. Sweets for the Sweet (February 12 - February 25) It’s sugar, and maybe spice, and definitely everything nice. Test out a historic recipe for sweets, sweetmeats and candies - but don’t let them spoil your appetite!
5. Roasts (February 26 - March 10) They’re a staple of the historic table, in many different shapes and forms and types. It’s also a cooking technique. Try a historic recipe for a roast, or a recipe that involves roasting, and tell us how it turned out.
6. Juicy Fruits (March 11 - March 24) It’s fruits! Do something with fruits. It doesn’t get more simple than that. Bonus points for use of heritage crops and ingredients!
7. Pretty As A Picture (March 25 - April 7) If you’re a fan of cooking competition shows (like I am!), you know how the saying goes: we eat first with our eyes. Make a dish that looks just as spectacular as it tastes. Extra points for historically accurate plating - and don’t forget to post pictures!
8. Literary Foods (April 8 - April 21) Food is described in great detail in much of the literature of the past. Make a dish that has been mentioned in a work of literature, based on historical documentation about that food item.
9. Mock Foods (April 22 - May 5) Historic cookbooks are full of recipes meant to imitate rare, expensive or impractical ingredients. It’s your turn to help your food pretend it’s something that it isn’t!
10. Breakfast Foods (May 6 - May 19) It’s simple - make a breakfast dish. Get creative, but make sure to provide your documentation for its place at the breakfast table!
11. Picnic Foods (May 20 - June 2) Some foods are just meant to be eaten in the outdoors! Concoct a dish that is documented for al fresco dining, or foods that might particularly lend themselves to eating at a picnic. Bonus points for putting it to the test!
12. In A Jam...or Jelly, or Pickle (June 3 - June 16) In a world before refrigeration, preserving food was an important task. For this challenge, make your favorite preserved food - bonus points if it’s seasonal!
13. Pies (June 17 - June 30) Make a pie! Meat, fruit, sweet or savory; traditional pies, hand pies, standing pies, or galottes - get creative, but make sure it’s documented!
14. Waste Not, Want Not (July 1 - July 14) Good housekeeping in any historic era included making the most of your food items. Pick a recipe that involves avoiding waste (maybe reusing leftovers, or utilizing things commonly thrown out) and show us how historically-green you can be!
15. Smell, Sight, Sound, Touch (July 15 - July 28) For this challenge, create a feast for the senses. Cook a dish that is a treat for more than just the tastebuds, whether it is scent, texture, visual appeal, or sound.
16. Foods Named After People (July 29 - August 11) Beef Wellington? Charlotte Russe? Choose a dish named after a person (either fictional or real) to create. Bonus points if you tell us about the link between the person and the dish!
17. Myths and Legends (August 12 - August 25) It’s time to make some legendary food! Pick a story from folklore (a myth, fantasy, legend, or fairy tale) that features food, and use a historical recipe to recreate it.
18. Let’s Get Saucy! (August 26 - September 8) They can be the perfect addition to a delicious dish, the crowning glory, or stand on their own. Make your best sauce and show us how to use it!
19. Ethnic Foods (September 9 - September 22) Foodways and cuisine are at the heart of every ethnic group around the world and throughout time. Choose one ethnic group, research their traditional dishes or food, and prepare one as it is traditionally made.
20. Foods Mentioned in Songs (September 23 - October 6) Find a historic song that mentions a food - and then cook a historic recipe around that food and the time of the song. Whether it’s Yankee Doodle’s macaroni, mussels a la Molly Malone, or the Muffin Man’s muffins, make sure it’s documented!
21. Party Foods (October 7 - October 20) If there’s a party, there has to be food! Pick a dish meant to be served to a crowd, or at a festive gathering, and show your work!
22. Soups, Stews and Porridges (October 21 - November 3) Whether it’s a delicate broth or a hearty porridge, if it’s served in a bowl, it’s fair game!
23. Sweet Sips and Potent Potables (November 4 - November 17) Whether it’s hard or soft, we all enjoy a refreshing beverage! Pick a historic beverage to recreate - remember to sip responsibly!
24. Redo! (November 18 - December 1) Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Or, sometimes they go so well, you just want to do it again! Pick a challenge you already did and want to revisit, and try it once more.
25. “Foreign” Foods (December 2 - December 15) Make a dish that reflects the historical idea of “foreign” - either foods with a loose connection to foreign lands, named after faraway places, or attributed to foreigners. Real connections to actual foreign countries not necessary (or recommended) - the more tenuous the connection, the better.
26. Descriptively-Named Foods (December 16 - 19) We all know those recipes that come attached to interesting and imaginative names - slumps, crumbles, buckles, trifles, flummery. Pick a historic recipe that has a descriptive title.