Downtown Tom first got me hooked on the National Archives, where you can see everything from the handwritten police blotter entry detailing Lincoln’s assassination to Dorothea Lange’s haunting photos to an image of the dinner menu from Nixon’s 1972 visit to China. History is much more poignant and immediate when you can experience bits and pieces as it was documented.  Check it out sometime. If you make National Archives is one of you Facebook friends you can get a goodie almost every day.

Food-related items are unusual, so I have to share what I got this morning this in my feed:

I love the retro-homey design; it totally takes me back to the avocado kitchens and orange and brown plaid layered shirts of my childhood.  And politics aside, it looks easy and tasty enough to try out at Thanksgiving. This recipe card is part of the “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” exhibit running at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. right now, and since a big part of cooking is smelling, they’ve added an aroma to the show . . . the sweet and spicy scent of apple pie.

I wonder if that’s one of our instinctively engaging scents? I like to burn an apple and spice candle when it’s cold to feel more cozy, and I’ve heard real estate agents often have a freshly-baked apple on the kitchen counter during showings to make a house more homey. Simmering cloves, cinnamon, and apple peel gives the same effect but not as delicious-looking. Or maybe it’s just easy and inexpensive to reproduce without the fake/chemical notes I often find with candles?

I like the smell but it’s not one of my favorites. Grapefruit blossoms, lemon verbena leaves, juniper needles crushed underfoot in the forest top my list. The winner is the heavy, salty, fishy air at low tide, when kelp is piled on the sand and the fog is at bay.

What is your favorite smell? The National Archives is running a contest right now;  click here and respond in the comments section, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a copy of Eating with Uncle Sam.