#FoodieFriday: The White House Edition

By: Sydnee C. Winston, Project Coordinator

Have you ever wondered what the inside of the White House kitchen looked like at the turn of the 20th century, or what Martha Washington’s favorite dessert was? Well you don’t have to wonder anymore, because this week’s #Foodie Friday takes a look at 7 interesting facts about the First Ladies and the White House kitchen and gardens that you may not know.

1. Martha Washington

Though First Lady Martha Washington didn’t live in the White House (she lived at Mount Vernon), one of her favorite desserts was the Great Cake. Here is the original recipe:

Take 40 eggs and divide the whites from the yolks and beat them to a froth. Then work 4 pounds of butter to a cream and put the whites of eggs to it a Spoon full at a time till it is well worked. Then put 4 pounds of sugar finely powdered to it in the same manner then put in the Yolks of eggs and 5 pounds of flour and 5 pounds of fruit. 2 hours will bake it. Add to it half an ounce of mace and nutmeg half a pint of wine and some fresh brandy.”

2. Abigail Adams

First Lady Abigail Adams (along with her husband John Adams) planted the first White House vegetable garden in 1800. They grew their own fresh  fruits and     vegetables as food for their family instead of purchasing produce at the local market.

3. Edith Wilson

First Lady Edith Wilson and her husband Woodrow Wilson brought sheep to graze and fertilize the White House lawn as a means of conserving during WWI rationing.They also
auctioned off their wool for the benefit of The American Red Cross.

4. Eleanor Roosevelt

In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt planted a large Victory Garden on the White House lawn and it spawned a very popular campaign in which millions of Americans began to grow their own victory gardens.

5. Caroline Harrison

First Lady Caroline Harrison (and her husband Benjamin Harrison) called on their cook, Dolly Johnson, an African American cook who had cooked for the Harrison family back in Indiana, to be their chef at the White House.

6. Michelle Obama

First Lady Michele Obama (along with President Barack Obama) planted a vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White house on March 20, 2009. The garden has more than 55 varieties of vegetables and fruits that are used in meals made for the first family and guests.

7. Cristeta Pasia Comerford

Cristeta became the first female White House Executive Chef in 2005 and also the first executive chef of Asian descent.

All photos: Courtesy of Library of Congress/Public Domain


Martha Washington’s Great Cake Recipe

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