White House Chef

white house cook bookOn seeing the news about the upcoming iron chef challenge with White House Chef Cristeta Comerford, I had to wonder: Does she use any of the recipes left behind from previous chefs?

I was fortunate to pick up a copy of The Original White House Cookbook 1887 Edition (reprint) at a yard sale in Ohio over the summer. In addition to being very interesting reading and learning a bit about the challenges of the day, there are plenty of obscure hints, such as:

To preserve Brooms: Dip them for a minute or two in a kettle of boiling suds once a week and they will last much longer, making them tough and pliable. A carpet wears much longer swept wtih a broom cared for in this manner.

I’m not so worried about carpet wear… don’t think I’ve swept my carpets in recent memory. I’d be more likely to bash a lightbulb trying to finagle the broom into a pot!

Then there are the interesting recipes for a variety of meats such as squirrel and snipe. Most of the “recipes” are really just brief instructions:

Page 89: Squirrel

They are cooked similar to rabbits, are excellent when broiled or made into a stew, and, in fact, are very good inall the different styles of cooking similar to rabbit.

There are many species common to this country; among them the black, red, gray and fox. Gophers and chipmunks may also be classified as another but smaller variety.

Now for a real recipe. From page 219

Virginia Corn Bread

Three cups of white corn-meal, one cup of flour, on tablespoon of sugar, one teaspoonful of salt, two heaping teaspoonfuls of baking-powder, one tablespoonful of lard, three cups of milk and three eggs. Sift together the flour, corn meal, sugar, salt and baking-powder; rub in the lard cold, add the eggs well-beaten and then the milk. Mix into a moderately stiff batter; pour it into well-greased, shallow baking-pans, (pie-tins are suitable). Bake from thirty to forty minutes.