FDR’s Favorite Fruitcake
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cake of choice was none other than the Christmas favorite — fruitcake. The Roosevelt’s cook and housekeeper, Henrietta Nesbitt, wrote a cookbook filled with recipes the family enjoyed called, The Presidential Cookbook – Feeding the Roosevelts and Their Guests.
Here’s what the President ate:
Henrietta Nesbitt’s Fruitcake
1 ½ pounds brown sugar
1 ½ pounds butter
1 ½ pounds flour (6 cups)
1 ½ cups honey
2 lemon rinds, grated, and juice
1 ½ teaspoons mace
1 nutmeg, grated
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons cloves
6 pounds dates
1 ½ pounds almonds cut lengthwise
2 ½ pounds mixed peel (1 ½ citron, ½ lemon, ½ orange)
¾ cup brandy, poured over fruit the night before
¾ cup sherry, poured over fruit the night before
1 cup of above flour sifted over fruit before adding to batter
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat whole eggs light, then add some of the creamed butter and beat very light; next the flour, and so on until all are mixed. Add the fruit last. Set cake forms in pans of water and bake in slow oven for 3 hours. All flour for cakes should be sifted twice before measuring. Bake in bread tins in pans of water in 350 degree oven for 2 hours. Yield, 3 pounds in bread pan. Yield, 8 loaves.
Photo: Franklin D. Roosevelt with two of his grandchildren in front of the White House Christmas Tree. 12/25/39.
-from the FDR Library
Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Roasted Rack of Lamb with a Pumpkin Thyme Crust
2 Frenched racks of lamb
1 cup pumpkin purée
2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup bread crumbs from good bread
3 teaspoon olive oil
Remove excess fat from lamb. Salt and pepper the meat and sear on all sides in a saucepan with a little vegetable oil. Place in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes depending on the size of the rack. Cook three-quarters of the way from your desired doneness. Let the rack sit on your counter and rest 20-30 minutes. When slightly chilled, spread pumpkin puree on the back and top of the lamb. Mix bread crumbs with salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil. Roll the rack of lamb in the bread crumbs. Put back in the oven to brown and finish. When done, cut chops and serve.
This recipe was shared by the Clinton Presidential Library and can be found in the National Archives cookbook “Eating with Uncle Sam.”
Photo: Clinton family pets, Socks the cat, and Buddy the dog, in the Oval Office. 12/08/99.
Lady Bird’s Lemon Squares
Here’s another First Family recipe for the holidays — Lemon Squares! According to the note at the bottom of the recipe, they were a favorite of Lady Bird Johnson’s.
"The cook at the LBJ Ranch keeps them in the freezer so Mrs. Johnson will always have them when she wants a snack or a delicious ending to a meal!"
The LBJ Library has many more of Lady Bird’s recipes digitized here.
This Thanksgiving, two turkeys from Minnesota will travel to the White House to be pardoned by President Obama. The annual tradition began in 1947 when the Poultry and Egg National Board presented a live turkey to President Truman for the holiday. Earlier presentation birds did not fare as well as their modern day counterparts and were handed over for, ahem,dining, rather than pardoning.
This photo shows the Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation to President Nixon on November 18, 1969. As you might imagine, we’ve got a number of POTUS photos from previous turkey days in our holdings. More to come next week.
What’s on your Thanksgiving menu?
Jack and Jackie, 58 years ago today
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and John F. Kennedy were married on the morning of September 12, 1953, in Newport, Rhode Island. The reception was held on the terrace of the 300 acre Auchincloss oceanfront estate, Hammersmith Farm.
The couple cut a five-tier wedding cake at the luncheon. The menu also included fruit cup, creamed chicken, and ice cream sculpted to resemble roses.
Wheatless Wednesdays; Meatless Mondays; Porkless Patriots
Today’s What’s Cooking Wednesday features food history from 1918. As head of the U.S. Food Administration during World War I, Herbert Hoover urged Americans to avoid the forced planing and rationing common to Europe through voluntary food conservation. These printed reminders were hung in households that pledged to “Hooverize.”
-From the Hoover Library
Richard Nixon’s last meal at the White House.
Thanks, Smithsonian. We’re psyched for the Presidential Libraries close-up in your food history feature.