The White House Cookbook & Giveaway!

The White House Cookbook & Giveaway!

I love old recipe books. When I was 17, I bought a 1905 version of “The White House Cookbook, a Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information for the Home” in an antique shop.  It was so much more than a cookbook: it had a listing of the menus of the (Teddy) Roosevelt White House, proper etiquette, rules of dinner-giving, menus for the sick and – the best part – “health suggestions and facts worth knowing”.  This was from a time when a housewife needed to be able to make wallpaper paste, cure ringworm and butcher a cow.  On the inner pages of the book someone had penciled recipes for Suet Pudding and something called Sunshine Cake.   I loved this book for its glimpse into American life at the turn of the century, never thinking it would have any practical use.  Thirty years later it was on a shelf in my White House office, providing insight on how things were done, and perhaps could be done again.

WH Cookbook and Giveaway

Food was a lot heavier then, and people seemed to really pack it away.  Here is a typical May dinner menu, from the chapter on suggested menus:

Split pea soup
Chicken Potpie
Boiled Potatoes
Stewed Tomatoes

Fried Sweetbreads
Bean Salad
Burnt Almond Charlotte
Orange Jelly

Cornstarch Cakes
Fruit

That’s ONE meal in May.  And there was no exercise room in the White House back then!  While some of the remedies call for items that would be difficult to find today, like brimstone or hartshorn, many of the recipes are actually very good, like this recipe for baking powder biscuits.

In the meantime, if you’re searching for a recipe for Instantaneous Hair Dye, or you need a remedy for The Creaking of Bedsteads, drop me a line.  I think I can help.

Also, I’m excited to announce that today is America’s Table’s first giveaway! All you have to do is sign up to receive the America’s Table newsletter, for your chance to enter and win a reprinted copy of the 1905 White House Cookbook!

September giveaway form - splash

Here is the original recipe:

Two pints of flour, butter the size of an egg, three heaping teaspoonfuls of baking powder and one teaspoonful of salt; make a soft dough of sweet milk, knead as little as possible, cut out with the usual biscuit-cutter and bake in rather a quick oven.

(I love that last part: ‘bake in a rather quick oven’!)  Here’s the modern translation:

Serves: 6

Prep time: One hour

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour, and more for patting out the dough
  • 2 cups cream or milk (we did it both ways and the cream makes the biscuit a bit richer)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 400 degrees.  Whisk together flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, using a pastry blender, until mixture looks coarse and crumb-y.
  3. Pour in cream and fold into the mixture until a wet dough forms.

    WH Cookbook and Giveaway

  4. Turn out the dough onto a flour-covered board and pat out dough to 1/and ½ inches high.
  5. Using the cutter of your choice (our was 4 inches in diameter), cut out biscuits and place on baking sheet, two inches apart.  (They will grow in the oven.)WH Cookbook and Giveaway
  6. Bake 25 minutes.  Serve while still warm.  Especially good with honey.WH Cookbook and Giveaway

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16 Comments

  1. These look wonderful! Nettie from Moore or Less Cooking Food Blog

  2. Love your site!!!
    Fingers x’d =)

  3. Your biscuits look beautiful!

  4. Looks absolutely delicious !

  5. The biscuits look great!! Would love to win that cookbook Thanks for the opportunity.

  6. yum,cant wait to make!
    I collect cookbooks,hope I win,good luck to all!

  7. I was handed down my Great-Grandmothers Anastatia cookbook and a stack of recipes written in pencil on thin paper. Her specialty was suet pudding. I make it for my great Aunt Ruth when I go to visit her.

  8. Laural Sandtorf

    I think these recipes would be great to try. I love cookbooks and The White House Cookbook would be great to have.

  9. sharon torres

    These look so good. I’m gonna try to make these for dinner. Lol!!
    How could I get a White House Cookbook?
    I’d Love to have one!
    Thank You so much!

    • I’m so glad you like the blog! Thanks for the kind words about the recipes and posts. There are lots of different White House cookbooks, but the recipes on this site are mine ( with a handful of exceptions.). But stay tuned- I’m on it!

  10. Sandy Maciejewski

    Sounds so interesting.

  11. Just saw you on Fox & Friends!!!! Eggnog, Cookies, Pulled Beef Sandwiches looked FAB!!!! Going to make the biscuits tonight!!! I LOVE cookbooks~have my Grandmother’s cookbook that I cherish with her families recipes from Ireland. I would LOVE a copy of your cookbook:) How can I purchase YOUR White House cookbook? Merry Christmas.

    • America's Table

      Thank you! I’m so glad you like the recipes. Unfortunately I don’t have a cookbook yet but I’m working on it.
      All the best,
      Lea

  12. Your recipes are wonderful.

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