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Thursday, September 29, 2016

The White House Cookbook


Elaine R. told me about a book in our collection that was originally published in 1887, The White House Cookbook, and was expanded and updated by Janet Halliday Ervin [641.5 ERV] in 1964. It is full of recipes and delicious tidbits of 19th century social history and customs.

Here are a few examples:

Under the chapter "Recipes/Cakes"

Poor Man's Cake

Two cupfuls of flour, one cupful each sweet cream and sugar, one egg, one teaspoonful of soda, and two teaspoonfuls dry cream of tartar. Bake carefully and a very nice cake will result.


Under the chapter "Health Suggestions"

Relief from Asthma (Muskrat Poultice)

Suffers from asthma should get a muskrat skin and wear it over their lungs with the fur side next to the body. It will bring certain relief.

Or soak blotting paper in saltpeter water, then dry, burning at night in the patient's bedroom.


Under the chapter "The President's Wives and Hostesses"

Hannah Hoes Van Buren of New York

In the shadows behind Martin Van Buren stands his almost-unknown wife, Hannah, who dies at age thirty-six, nineteen years before he became President, leaving him to bring up their four sons alone. Van Buren never remarried.

Single Presidents never have promised the gay social seasons that the Capitol city craves, and Washington ladies sighed over the lack of a charming hostess for the executive mansion. Matchmaking efforts seemed lost on the President himself...

To bring White House cooking into the 21st century, look for A White House Garden Cookbook: Healthy Ideas from the First Family For Your Family by Clara Silverstein [641.597 SIL], which was published in 2010.

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