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More: Hercules & Hemings: African American Cooks in the Presidents Kitchen  
 
 
     
   
  Julia Childs talks about Thomas Jefferson's favorite recipe for ice cream and the cook that he took with him to Paris to learn the art of French cuisine. Memories and Imagination, New Pathways to the Library of Congress/ Michael Lawrence Films and Krainin Productions, Inc.  
     
  White House Cookbook 1887 by Mrs. F.L. Gillette  


click to enlarge cookbook

 
  Subtitled A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information for the Home Containing Cooking, Toilet and Household Recipes, Menus, Dinner-giving, Table Etiquette, Care of the Sick, Health Suggestions, Facts Worth Knowing, Etc. And it has all of that - but also more. There are sections on carving, dyeing or coloring, French words in cooking, House-keepers' Time-Table, Management of State Dinners at the White House, and Food for the Sick. Menu's for General Grant's Birthday Dinner, Mrs. Cleveland's Wedding Lunch, 1888 and the menu for a buffet for 1,000. You can see the entire book online
at Project Gutenberg eBook.

 
     
  Ike's Homestyle Vegetable Soup Recipe  
   

Ike's Homestyle Vegetable SoupPresident Eisenhower grilling at the White House

The best time to make vegetable soup is a day or so after you have fried chicken and out of which you have saved the necks, ribs, backs, uncooked. (The chicken is Not essential, but does add something.)

Procure from the meat market a good beef soup bone, the bigger the better. It is rather a good idea to have it split down the middle so that all the marrow is exposed. I frequently buy, in addition, a couple of pounds of ordinary soup meat, either beef or mutton, or combination of both.

Put all this meat, early in the morning, in a big kettle. The best kind of is heavy aluminum, but a good iron pot will do almost as well. Put in all the bony parts of the chicken you have saved. Cover with water, something on the order of five quarts. Add a teaspoon of salt, a bit of black pepper and, if you like, a touch of garlic (one small piece). If you don't like garlic, put in an onion. Boil all this slowly all day long. Keep on boiling until the meat has literally dropped off the bone. If your stock boils down during the day, add enough water from time to time to keep the meat covered. When the whole thing has practically disintegrated, pour out into another large kettle through a collander. Make sure that the marrow is out of the bones. I advise you to let this drain through the collander for quite a while as much juice will drain out of the meat. Shake the collander well to help get out all of the juice.

I usually save a few of the better pieces of meat to be diced and put into the soup after it is done. Put the kettle containing the stock you now have in a very cool place, outdoors in the wintertime or in the icebox; let it stand all night and the next day until you are ready to make your soup.

You will find that a hard layer of fat has formed on the top of the stock which can usually be lifted off since the whole kettle full of stock has jelled. Some people like a little bit of fat left on, and I know a few who like their soup very rich and do not remove more than about half of the fat.

Put the stock back into your kettle and you are now ready to make your soup.

In a separate pan, boil slowly about a third of the teacupful of barley. This should be cooked separately since it has a habit, in a soup kettle, of settling to the bottom and if your fire should happen to get too hot it is likely to burn. If you cannot get barley use rice, but it is a poor substitute.

One of the secrets of making good vegetable soup is not to cook any of the vegetables too long. However, it is impossible to give you an exact measure of the vegetables you should put in because some people like their vegetable soup almost as thick as stew, others like it much thinner. Moreover, sometimes you can't get exactly the vegetables you want; other times you have to substitute. When you use canned vegetables, put them in only a few minutes before taking the soup off the fire. If you use fresh ones, naturally they must be fully cooked in the soup.

The things I like to put into my soup are about as follows:
1 quart of canned tomatoes
1/2 teacupful of fresh peas
If you can't get peas, a handful of good green beans cut up very small can substitute.
2 normal sized potatoes, diced into cubes of about half-inch size
2 or 3 branches of good celery
1 good sized onion (sliced)
3 nice sized carrots diced about the same as the potato
1/2 cup of canned corn
a handful of raw cabbage cut up in small pieces

Your vegetables should not all be dumped in at once. The potatos, for example, will cook more quickly than the carrots. Your effort must be to have them all nicely cooked but not mushy, at about the same time.

The fire must not be too hot, but the soup should keep bubbling.

When you figure the soup is about done, put in your barley, which should now be fully cooked, add a tablespoonful of Kitchen Bouquet and taste for flavoring, particularly salt and pepper and, if you have it, use some onion salt, garlic salt, and celery salt. (If you cannot get Kitchen Bouquet, use one teaspoonful of Worcestershire Sauce.)

Cut up the few bits of the meat you have saved and put about a small handful into the soup.

While you are cooking the soup, do not allow the liquid to boil down too much. Add a bit of water from time to time. If your stock was good and thick when you started, you can add more water than if it was thin when you started.

As a final touch, in the springtime when nasturtiums are green and tender, you can take a few nasturtium stems, cut them up in small pieces, boil them separately as you did the barley, and add them to your soup. (About one tablespoon after cooking.)


  (photo courtesy of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library  
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DINNER IN THE RIVER, CROZET, VIRGINIA – Leni A. Sorensen  
   
             Two summers ago, in mid June, my husband and I decided that the perfect place to host a dinner party was in the middle of Doyle’s River across the road from our house.  That time of year the weather is hot, the gnats persistent, but the low water flowing slowly along under the shade of the trees lining the bank make the water a perfect place in which to sit.  “We’ll make a table with plywood on saw-horses and we can all sit in canvas chairs.”  And thus our annual Dinner in the River was born. 
            I prepare the main meal and guests bring additional dishes, wine, bread, and desert.  The first year’s main dish was home-made tamales, last year it was grilled home-grown chicken.  Ritual side dishes are home-made cheviche and tostadas, jicama and sweet pepper salad, and chard, kale, and Parmesan casserole. 
            The party tends to overflow into the garden area where the half built wood bread oven awaits completion and the site for the kitchen studio is staked out.  When I retire I will teach culinary history on a hearth and stew stove assembly and on my 100 year old Home Comfort wood cook stove.  Until then we, and our guests, spend as much time as possible in the river and our garden. 
 
     
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