Fran’s Favorites for Presidents’ Day

By Fran DeWine

Over the years I’ve had a lot of fun researching foods that presidents have enjoyed, so I thought this would be a perfect weekend to share some of my favorites with you.

We all know the story of our first president and the legend of the cherry tree. “I cannot tell a lie, Father, you know I cannot tell a lie. I did cut it with my little hatchet.” So goes the legend as told by Mason Locke Weems. When we think of George Washington, we think of cherries, so cherry pie is always a favorite.

Cherry Pie

Pastry for a 2-crust pie

4 cups pitted cherries

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons butter

Line a 9 inch pie plate with pastry. Mix together cherries, sugar and flour and pour into pie shell. Dot with butter. Dampen edges with water and put on top crust. Adjust and crimp. Make slit in top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

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Abraham Lincoln loved simple foods, like apples. So I found a “recipe” in Miss Leslie’s Complete Cookery that Mary Todd Lincoln owned and used. It’s a simple recipe with no exact proportions:

Abraham Lincoln’s Apple Bread Pudding

“Pare, core and slice thin a dozen or more fine, juicy pippins, strewing among them bits of the yellow rind of a large lemon that has been pared very thin, and squeezing over them the juice of the lemon … Cover the bottom of a large deep dish with a thick layer of sliced apples. Strew it thickly with brown sugar, then scatter on a very few bits of the best fresh butter. Next strew over it a thin layer of bread crumbs. Afterwards, another thick layer of apples, followed by sugar, butter and bread crumbs as before. Continue this until you get the dish full, finishing with a thin layer of crumbs. Put the dish into a moderate oven, and bake the pudding well, ascertaining that the apples are thoroughly done and as soft as marmalade. Send it to the table either hot or cold, and eat it with a cream-sauce, or with butter, sugar and nutmeg, stirred to a cream … It will be much improved by the addition of a grated nutmeg, mixed with the apples.”

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One of my favorite recipes is a very simple recipe for President Reagan’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese. It is appeared in the 1987 Congressional Club Cookbook and I have put it in several editions of my own campaign cookbook as well. Mrs. Reagan told a group of us that sometimes she made this recipe for Ronnie in the private quarters of the White House! It’s a simple recipe to make, and it’s very good.

President Reagan’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese

½ pound macaroni or other shell pasta

1 tablespoon butter

1 egg, beaten

3 cups grated sharp cheese

1 teaspoon dry mustard, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

Boil macaroni in water. Drain. Stir in butter, egg and half of cheese. (Reserve the other half for top.) Put in buttered casserole. Dissolve dry mustard into hot water. Mix together with salt and milk. Pour over macaroni. Sprinkle with reserved cheese. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes until custard is set.

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I also have a great recipe for Barbara Bush’s Oatmeal Lace Cookies which I like to make for tea parties, and a wonderful recipe for Wild Mushroom Soup, given to me by Laura Bush. I’ll have to share these another time.

But this week, in celebration of Presidents’ Day, I featured Ronald Reagan’s Macaroni and Cheese and Abraham Lincoln’s Apple Bread Pudding for dinner. It was a fun way to remember and honor our presidents!

By Fran DeWine

Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native, First Lady of Ohio and guest columnist.

Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native, First Lady of Ohio and guest columnist.