No Cherry Pie in Martha’s Cookbook!
Was Cherry Pie a George Washington Favorite?
Cherry pie is a favorite on Presidents’ Day, thanks to what we now know is a myth about George Washington cutting down the cherry tree. We do know that Washington loved cherries, as well as a variety of other fruit, yet Martha Washington did not have a single recipe for cherry pie in her extensive cookbook, Book of Cookery! She did include the recipe for her favorite cherry dessert, “Cherry Bread and Butter Pudding,” however. Chances are, if Washington did eat cherry pie, it wasn’t often.
Peach and Squash Pies for Abe
What about Abe Lincoln? No mention of cherry pie by his biographers, either. However, fresh peach pie was a different matter!
On this Presidents’ Day let’s go authentic and serve up two dishes our 1st and 16th Presidents really did love. For George Washington it was “Fried Apples and Bacon,” a recipe Martha had gotten from General Braddock and served often at Mount Vernon. For Lincoln it was “Squash Pie.”
Here are the recipes. Bon t.appetit!
George Washington’s Fried Apples and Bacon
4 tart apples
1 pound of bacon
2-3 tsp. sugar
Peel the apples and cut into 1-inch cubes. Fry the bacon in a large, heavy skillet. Drain the bacon on paper towels and keep it warm. (E.g., put it in an oven set on very low heat.) Leave 1/4 cup of bacon drippings in the skillet and fill the skillet with apples. Sprinkle sugar on the apple cubes. Cover and cook on medium heat until tender (about 15 minutes). Uncover and turn the apples over. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the apples have browned lightly (about another 15 minutes). Place the apples on a warm platter, surround them with bacon, and serve.
Abraham Lincoln’s Favorite Squash Pie
This recipe was a mainstay of the Rutledge Tavern, in New Salem, Illinois, where Lincoln often stopped to eat as a young lawyer on the law circuit tour. He was served by Ann Rutledge, daughter of the tavern owner and allegedly Lincoln’s first love.
1 unbaked deep dish pie shell
2 cups cooked mashed or puréed winter squash (e.g., butternut, acorn or Hubbard )
2 eggs plus 1 egg separated into white and yolk
2 cups milk
1 Tbs. melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
heavy cream, if desired, for whipped cream topping
To prepare squash. Pierce the squash skin in several places with a knife, place in a baking dish, and bake in a 350º oven until squash is easily pierced with a fork (about an hour). LET IT COOL COMPLETELY. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, and mash it or purée it with an electric mixer or food processor. Recipe takes about 1 large or 2 small butternut squash. Or, boil or steam the squash until tender before mashing it.
Heat the oven to 400º.
Beat the egg white lightly and brush it on the pie crust lightly to keep the filling from soaking into the crust.
Beat the 2 eggs and 1 yolk slightly and mix with the milk and mashed squash. Stir in the melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Mix together thoroughly.Taste for sweetness and spiciness and add more sugar or spices, as desired. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and place the pie pan on a cookie sheet to catch any spills. Bake at 400º for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325º and bake 45 minutes to one hour. The pie is done when a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out lean.
Serve with a whipped cream topping, if desired.
(NOTE: If you enjoy eating like a President, check out the previous post, as well: “Lincoln’s Favorite Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake.”
Recipes from The President’s Cookbook by Poppy Cannon & Patricia Brooks. ©1968.
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