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LET'S COOK: A President’s Day talk

February 22, 2019
Chuck Repnow , Pierce County Tribune

I had the pleasure of presenting a program in honor of President's Day. So naturally I turned to information on Presidents Washington and Lincoln which is always interesting. The talk was to be 30 minutes with 15 minutes for group discussion and followed by dessert.

It was the last request that made me look beyond Washington and Lincoln because cherry pie is often the dessert recipe connected to Washington. Now, I do enjoy cherry pie and the color certainly would have worked well with the table decorations; however, thanks to my copy of "The First Ladies Cookbook" which features favorite recipes of all the Presidents of the United States, my selection for a recipe was unlimited.

The talk which was attended equally by men and women brought to light the fact that the Presidents and First Ladies have several things in common with all of us. They enjoy entertaining, which brings to the table their favorite foods. Many of them liked pets, music, the arts, and fashion trends.

Article Photos

Japanese Fruit Cake
Submitted to the First Ladies Cookbook by First Lady Rosalynn Carter. The batter for this cake is thick and will bake into a beautiful cake. The assembly is easy, and the flavor is delicious--especially if it is allowed to set up.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¾ cup light or dark raisins
Grease two 9-inch round layer-cake pans; line with waxed paper; grease paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Beat egg whites until stiff in a medium bowl. Cream butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, alternately with milk, until blended; fold in beaten egg whites. Spoon about 2/3 of the batter into one cake pan.
Stir nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and raisins into remaining batter; spoon into second cake pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, or until a wood pick inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; loosen around edges with a knife; turn out onto racks; peel off waxed paper. Cool layer completely. Split each cake layer evenly. Place one raisin layer, cut side up, on a serving plate; top with about 1 cup of the filling. Cover with a plain layer; top with another cup filling. Repeat with remaining layers, using 1 cup filling between and the rest on top of cake. Makes 1 nine-inch four-layer cake.

Fruit Filling
- 1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple packed in juice
Water
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups grated unsweetened coconut
Drain juice from pineapple into a 2-cup measure. Add enough water to make it to 2 cups.
Mix cornstarch and sugar in a medium saucepan; stir in the 2 cups pineapple liquid and pineapple. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in lemon rind and juice and coconut. Chill thoroughly. Make 4 cups.

The front lawn of the White House was also part of the talk as guests reminded that the lawn had been used as a pasture from time to time. Such as when Martha Johnson Paterson, daughter of President Andrew Johnson, fulfilled the hostess duties at the White House in consequence of her mother's incapacity. Martha was a country girl and knew the worth of having your own butter, milk and cheese for cooking.

Several years later Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, the second wife of President Wilson had sheep occupying the White House Lawn as part of the war effort, providing wool for clothing worn by American soldiers. The gathered guests commented "we find these acts to be wonderful!" Any guess to what animals will be soon grazing on the White House lawn?

As a youth, I was fascinated with the First Families and often read about them in newspapers and magazines. Since I could relate to this event, I had to enlighten the gathered group with this White House event. One evening while President Ford and First Lady Betty were sleeping they woke to a terrible crash. They thought at first someone had crashed into the White House. They soon discovered, however, that they were the cause of the loud crashing noise. When they opened their bedroom closet doors, they realized all the clothing rods had been pulled from the wall because they were so overloaded with clothes! Oh, the struggles with being fashionable.

We ended our conversation noting that it is called President's Day; however, the women who helped shape America such as presidential wives, daughters and other female relatives, who served as official hostesses in the White House often acted as advisors to the President. I have admired the generous hearts of former President Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter. In their retirement, they continue to promote Habitat for Humanity and Lions Club International-both organizations that serve important needs in our world. It was for this reason that I selected her recipe for the delicious cake listed below.

 
 

 

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