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Archive for February 17, 2014

PRESIDENTS DAY: More Favorite Foods Of The Presidents


Our 40th president was fond of chocolate
mousse. Photo courtesy Nescafe.


Having just discussed the food preferences of Washington and Lincoln, here are more recent presidential favorites, courtesy of

  • Eisenhower enjoyed stews and was a staunch meat eater, which was typical for his time. He knew how to cook, and liked to make his own beef soup. One of his favorite desserts was prune whip, although he enjoyed the more commonplace apple pie and rice pudding.
  • Kennedy enjoyed soup, a sandwich and fruit for lunch; his favorite soup was fish chowder. He was not a big eater, but he liked the standards of the day—lamb chops, steak, baked chicken, turkey (white meat) and mashed potatoes. He also was fond of seafood, baked beans and corn muffins; when he ate dessert, it was something chocolate. Like Lincoln, Kennedy was a small eater and often had to be reminded that it was dinner time.
  • Johnson favored Southwestern, Mexican and especially barbecue cuisine; he despised fish. Breakfast often comprised creamed chipped beef and a cup of tea.
  • Nixon loved meat loaf, although he is famous for snacking on cottage cheese and ketchup. A weight watcher, he often had cottage cheese and fruit for lunch.
  • Ford was a hearty eater who preferred American staples: bacon burgers, casseroles, liver and onions, spaghetti and meatballs and spareribs. He rarely ate dessert, but when he did, lemon pudding was a favorite.
  • Carter was not a big eater, but he enjoyed down home, southern-style dishes such as pork chops with corn bread stuffing, grits, baked and fried chicken. His favorite vegetable was eggplant; he also liked butternut squash, collards, kale and okra. The former peanut farmer enjoyed snacking on goobers.
  • Ford was a hearty eater who preferred American staples: bacon burgers, casseroles, liver and onions, spaghetti and meatballs and spareribs. He rarely ate dessert, but when he did, it was often lemon pudding.
  • Carter was not a big eater, but he enjoyed down home, southern-style dishes such as pork chops with corn bread stuffing, grits, baked and fried chicken. His favorite vegetable was eggplant; he also liked butternut squash, collards, kale and okra. The former peanut farmer liked to snack on goobers.

  • Reagan liked chicken and beef dishes and hearty bowls of soup. Although the nutrition-conscious First Lady focused on fiber-rich foods and dishes with a minimum of fat and cholesterol, Regan shared George Washington’s enjoyment of steak and kidney pie. He also had a special fondness for chocolate mousse, and is known for snacking on jelly beans (he had Jelly Belly make up a red, white and blue mix for the White House—in fact, the blue jelly bean color was created for this purpose!).
  • George H. W. Bush loved snacking on pork rinds and popcorn. He is better known for what he didn’t like: broccoli, which his mother served every day. He also refused to eat broccoli relatives Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
  • Clinton loved to eat. Beyond his well-documented penchant for fast food, he enjoyed chicken enchiladas, tacos, barbecued ribs, cheeseburgers, lemon chess pie, peach pie, beef tenders and his mother’s sweet-potato casserole. Notes from the Arkansas governor’s mansion indicate a fondness for corn pudding, fried chicken, roast beef and carrot cake. After leaving office, Clinton became a vegetarian for health reasons and now practices a vegan diet.


    The same mousse-loving president snacked on jelly beans, and commissioned the first blue jelly bean as part of a red, white and blue mix for the White House. Photo courtesy Jelly Belly.

  • George W. Bush liked barbecue, steaks, and traditional simple western dishes like huevos rancheros and other Tex-Mex foods. Bush was not particularly food-focused. He did enjoy a BLT, an occasional burger, a PB and honey sandwich and a snack of deviled eggs.
  • Obama enjoys a good dinner on date night (it’s often fine Mexican cuisine); but Michelle Obama’s family menus are healthy, with lots of of salmon and vegetables. Obama may be the first “foodie” president, enjoying specialty foods such as Fran’s Smoked Sea Salt Caramels in Milk Chocolate (Michelle prefers the dark chocolate) and Black Forest Berry Honest Tea.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Simple Syrup Recipe


    Why buy it when it’s so easy to make? Photo courtesy Stirrings.


    Granulated sugar does not dissolve easily in cold beverages. Simple syrup (also called bar syrup, sugar syrup or gomme, the French word for gum) makes it easy to add sweetness to drinks—cocktails, iced tea or iced coffee.

    Some people use superfine sugar (check out this nifty flip-top package). Others buy a bottle of premade simple syrup. (There’s also a sugar-free version.)

    Or, you can easily make simple syrup—the option bartenders prefer—and keep it on hand. You can also flavor it with anything from chile and cinnamon to lavender and mint.

    We make simple syrup on the stove top, stirring sugar and hot water until they combine into a syrup. But you can try this “shaking” technique (but not for most flavored syrup, which requires simmering in hot water).

    Both techniques follow.



    1. FILL. Using the proportion of 2 parts sugar to three parts water, fill a bottle almost halfway with sugar; add hot water.

    2. SHAKE. Cover the top and shake well. Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.




  • 2 parts sugar
  • 1 part water
  • Optional flavor

    1. BRING the water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, stirring constantly until dissolved completely. (Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or it will be too thick.)

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Allow to cool completely and thicken.

    3. ADD optional flavor. For vanilla simple syrup, add 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract to cooled sugar syrup. If you want to infuse fresh herbs (basil, mint, rosemary), simmer them in the hot water for 20 minutes and remove before mixing the water with the sugar.



    Tired of stirring and stirring until the sugar dissolves? Use simple syrup. Photo by Kelly Cline | IST.

    4. STORE in an airtight container in the fridge or the pantry.
    The following recipe employs the old-school, cook-it-on-the-stove approach to making simple syrup. Enjoy it in a cocktail or in hot or iced tea.



  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water

    1. COMBINE ginger, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Strain the syrup and refrigerate in an airtight container.

    Variation: For “adult iced tea,” add 1.5 ounces bourbon or whiskey.


    Some bartenders use a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water for a thicker syrup. Others prefer a thinner syrup. Play around with the proportions until you hit on what’s right for you.


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    PRESIDENT’S DAY: Dine & Drink With George Washington & Abraham Lincoln


    You won’t often find steak and kidney pie in
    the U.S. these days. But if you want to eat
    one of George Washington’s favorites, here’s
    the recipe. Recipe and photo courtesy
    Chatterbox Enterprises.


    Some of us remember life before Presidents Day. Until 1971, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was a state holiday, celebrated in many states on the his birthday—Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 in Kentucky in that iconic one-room cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. It was a bank, government and school holiday, not to mention a day of retail sales specials.

    George Washington had a separate holiday on his birthday, February 22nd (he was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to a wealthy planter family).

    In 1971, both presidential holidays were shifted to the third Monday in February and combined as Presidents Day, to allow federal employees a three-day weekend. The private sector followed. Adieu, Lincoln’s Birthday; and yours too, George Washington’s Birthday. You holidays are now part of a vague Presidents Day celebration.


    The planter and surveyor who would become the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Washington was known for keeping a bountiful table. He was fond of fine food and enjoyed fresh fish almost daily (often for breakfast with hoe cakes).

    Steak and kidney pie, mashed sweet potatoes and string beans almondine were a popular dinner, served with pickles and other condiments, particularly mushroom catsup (tomato catsup came much later—see the history of ketchup). Favorite desserts included tipsy cake (trifle), Martha Washington’s whiskey cake and yes, cherry pie.

    What did Washington drink with his meals?

    Beer was a favorite drink of George Washington, as it was for many people living in 18th century America and Europe. Before municipal water supplies, the water supply was unreliable, with the water from lakes, rivers and wells carrying harmful pathogens. Even young children drank beer.

    Washington was particularly fond of porter, a dark ale, but Madiera and wine were usually present at the table as well. Beer was brewed at Mount Vernon, and hops were grown there. In addition to grain-based beer, persimmon beer and pumpkin beer were brewed in season.

    Washington’s notebooks include a recipe for small beer, which was a weak beer (lower alcohol content) consumed by servants and children. The full-alcohol beer was called strong beer.



    In the era before cocktails*, punch was the way to combine spirits, sugar, lemon juice, spices and other ingredients.

    Washington also enjoyed eggnog. His own recipe included brandy, rum and rye, the latter of which was made on the estate. A little-known fact about the Father Of Our Country: At the time of his death, he was the country’s largest producer of rye whiskey. The restored still at Mount Vernon continues to produce un-aged rye whiskey using Washington’s original recipe.
    So the choice is yours: Toast to our first president with beer, eggnog, punch or a glass of rye.
    Thanks to for this information. You can read the full article here. And if you’re in the DC area, do plan a visit to this wonderful heritage site.



    Dining with Lincoln? You might be served a bowl of oyster stew. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.



    Given the choice of a good meal with George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, opt for Washington.

    Abraham Lincoln’s father, Thomas, was an illiterate farmer. Meals in the family’s one-room cabin comprised simple farm fare.

    Thus, Lincoln was not bred to be a connoisseur of fine food like Washington. His colleagues on the law circuit noted his indifference to the boardinghouse fare. As president, focused on work, he hardly remembered to eat; often, his sustenance was a nibble of apples, nuts, cheese and crackers. Chicken fricassee with biscuits and oyster stew were favorites when he took the time to for a formal meal.

    Lincoln’s favorite beverage was water. He didn’t drink alcohol and it was seldom served at the White House. He did enjoy coffee, perhaps for the energy as much as the flavor.

    A glass of water is fine, but we’d rather have a crisp white wine with our fruit and cheese.

    *Cocktails as we know them date back to the early 1800s. Here’s a brief history and some retro cocktails.


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