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
Ike’s Bourbon Egg Nog
Our Presidents is celebrating the holiday season with First Family foods! We’ll be serving up festive Presidential recipes and White House menus all month long.
To whet your appetite, here’s Dwight D. Eisenhower’s recipe for Egg Nog. The former President and Five Star General made some serious stuff — scaled to serve a small army of revelers. Make sure you’ve got a quart of bourbon and a pound of sugar on hand!
Ike was an avid cook and kept a personal collection of favorite recipes. These were either typed by his staff or clipped from newspapers and magazines. Take a look at more recipes from Ike’s cookbook here.
Betty Ford enlisted the aid of David Jones, a floral designer and interior decorator from Los Angeles, to put together decorations for this dinner honoring the Shahahshah and Empress of Iran. It was a white tie event, and one of the more formal dinners that the Fords would host.
The garden-themed decor featured bronze sculptures on loan from the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they were designed by American artists Robert Ingersoll Aitken, Abstenia St. Leger Eberle, Janet Scudder, and Bessie Potter Vonnoh. Each sculpture was placed on a low platform surrounded by greenery and candles.
Garlands draped on the back of the chairs and around the room finished the decor. The garden theme carried outside of the State Dining Room as well with the addition of trees and planters in the Cross Hall.
Although the Johnson china with its wildflower pattern was often used at state dinners, for this one the meal was served on the Truman china with its green border. The Kennedy crystal and Monroe vermeil completed the table settings.
"During World War II, of course, I ate my share of SPAM along with millions of other soldiers. I’ll even confess to a few unkind remarks about it — uttered during the strain of battle, you understand."
-Eisenhower’s letter to the President of the Hormel Foods Board regarding SPAM
In 1966, Eisenhower wrote to H.H. “Tim” Corey (President and later Chairman of the Board of Hormel Foods) at the request of a mutual friend to recognize the 75th anniversary of the company. The tongue-in-cheek letter recounts Eisenhower’s remembrances of Spam during WWII.
PHOTO CAPTION: This unsigned file copy of General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s letter to H.H. Corey was retained by his staff to document what he wrote.
-From the Eisenhower Library
The tables for the state dinner in honor of President Leone were set with the Johnson china, vermeil flatware, and Morgantown crystal. The flower arrangements included Marguerite daisies, chrysanthemums, snapdragons, miniature carnations, and straw flowers.
Lady Bird Johnson’s wildflower White House china? Souffle au Grand Marnier with Sauce Sabayon? Yes, please.
Are you excited by the arrival of the newest Prince? How about celebrating by making these royal scones?
In August 1959, Queen Elizabeth entertained President Dwight Eisenhower at Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands. One of the dishes she served was drop scones. The next year, she was reminded of his visit and her promise to share the recipe, and she mailed it to him.
She included some help to make the recipes work for an American cook. She noted that treacle (sugar syrup) could be used for caster sugar. But you have to wonder, exactly how a big a teacup should the cook use?
(You might remember that we also suggested making these scones for William and Kate’s wedding too. It’s just such a fun document that we can’t resist! National Archives, Queen Elizabeth’s Scone Recipe, 01/24/1960, ARC 5721363)
Dinner was served in the State Dining Room following the receiving line.
The dishes chosen were very similar to ones served at a state dinner for King Hussein and Queen Alia hosted by President and Mrs. Nixon on Feburary 6, 1973.
POW Week at the Nixon Library
A sheriff-led motorcade will escort Vietnam POWs to the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California at 12:30PM PT. Their arrival at the Library coincides with the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s POW homecoming dinner at the White House.
An All-American Homecoming is a new exhibit at the Nixon Library about the POWs visit to the White House. The event occurred on May 24, 1973, and it remains the largest dinner ever held at the White House. This week, the Nixon Foundation is hosting a series of events to celebrate the POWs.
Tomorrow evening, on the anniversary of the original White House homecoming, the Foundation will hold a reunion dinner for the POWs in the Nixon Library’s “East Room.” The original menu will be recreated, including American comfort foods like sirloin steak and potatoes.
Learn more about POW Week at the Nixon Library through the Nixon Foundation.
Photo: Entertainers sing “God Bless America” to the returned POW troops at the White House. From L-R: Phyllis Diller, Former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley, actress Joey Heatherton, President Nixon, Songwriter Irving Berlin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pat Nixon and Comedian Bob Hope. 5/24/73.
Space Food, Brownies, Apollo 11
Tomorrow is Space Day at the National Air and Space Museum! The Presidential Libraries of the National Archives will be there hosting a Mission Checklist hunt.
If you are in Washington D.C., come by to accept your mission and search for Apollo items at the National Archives and the Air and Space Museum.
Among your necessities: compressed brownies sealed in 4-ply laminate.
Learn more about space food from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Photo courtesy of the National Air and Space Museum.
More — Nixon and the Apollo Program
My Tuesdays are meatless,
My Wednesdays are wheatless,
I’m getting more eatless each day.
My home — it is heatless,
My bed — it is sheetless,
They’re sent to the Y.M.C.A.
The bar rooms are treatless,
The coffee is sweetless,
To-day I grow poorer and wiser.
My stockings are feetless,
My trousers are seatless,
My God! How I do have the kaiser.
This humorous poem about the United States Food Administration is found in the papers of Ben Allen who served as Chief of the Education Division and who worked many times over the years with his friend Herbert Hoover.
-from the Hoover Library