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Authors: Rae Katherine Eighmey

Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen

BOOK: Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen
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Text © 2013 by Rae Katherine Eighmey

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
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without permission in writing from the publishers.

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promotional use. For information, please write: Special Markets Department,
Smithsonian Books, P. O. Box 37012, MRC 513, Washington, DC 20013

Published by Smithsonian Books
Director: Carolyn Gleason
Production Editor: Christina Wiginton
Editorial Assistant: Ashley Montague

Edited by Lise Sajewski
Hardcover Designed by Mary Parsons

Illustrations on
, and
courtesy of The Florida Center for Instructional Technology

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Eighmey, Rae Katherine.
Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen : a culinary view of Lincoln's
life and times / Rae Katherine Eighmey.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references.
eBook ISBN: 978-1-58834-460-1
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-58834-455-7
1. Cooking, American—History—19th century.
2. United States—Social life and customs—19th century.
3. Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
4. Presidents—United States—Biography. I. Title.
TX715.E3368 2013


In memory of F. C. E.

With thanks for his library of Lincoln books
where this work began

And to four remarkable young men—

Justin and Jack
Nicholas and Jonah

May you spend a lifetime of learning,
especially while reading under trees
with corn dodgers or gingerbread men at hand.



Title Page




Abraham and Mary Lincoln Corn Dodgers and Egg Corn Bread

Corn Dodgers

Egg Corn Bread

Lincoln's Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread Men

Tennessee Cake

Vinegar Sauce

Life on the Indiana Frontier Pawpaws, Honey, and Pumpkins

Gooseberry Pudding

Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin Pie with Honey

Journeys of Discovery New Orleans Curry and New Salem Biscuits

New Orleans Curry Powder

New Orleans Chicken Curry

New Salem Saleratus Biscuits

Bacon and Black Hawk

Batter Pudding


Pint Cake


Bacon-Basted Militia Chicken

Courtship and Cake The Lincolns' Romance and Mary Todd's Almond Cake

French Almond Cake

Almond Pound Cake

Eating Up Illinois Politics Barbecue, Biscuits, and Burgoo

Slow-Cooked Barbecue

Peach and Honey

Short Biscuits

Bread Sauce

Cucumber Salad

“Salt for Ice Cream” Springfield Scenes from Diaries and Grocery Ledgers

Strawberry Ice Cream

Chicken Salad

Nutmeg Doughnuts

Mutton Harico

Beef Cakes

December Sausages

Corned Beef and Cabbage

White Fricassee of Chicken

Piccalilli: Of Fruits and Vegetables


Pineapple Preserves

Cucumber Catsup

Rhubarb Spring Tonic

Tomato Ketchup

Tomato Tart

Baked Beans

Mock-Mock Turtle Soup

Apple Butter

Talking Turkey Clues to Life in the Springfield Home

Forcemeat for Stuffing Turkey Craw

Roast Turkey

Cranberry Sauce

Mushroom Sauce

Soused or Barbecued Pigs “Feet”

At the Crossroads of Progress Irish Stew, German Beef, and Oysters

Irish Stew

German Beef with Sour Cream

Minced Beef the Portuguese Way

Oyster Stew

Inaugural Journey Banquets and Settling into the White House

Brunoise Soup

Filet of Beef à la Napolitaine

Peas à la Française

Cranberry Pie

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

Summer Cottage, Soldier's Bread

Soldier's Bread

Cakes in Abraham Lincoln's Name

Lincoln Cake






Lincoln cooked!”

The words leapt off the pages of my sixty-nine-year-old copy of Rufus Wilson's
Lincoln among His Friends
. I could hardly believe what I was reading.

Yet there it was.
Phillip Wheelock Ayers, whose family lived three doors down from the Lincolns' Springfield home at the corner of Eighth and Jackson, described how Abraham Lincoln walked the few blocks home from his Springfield law office, put on a blue apron, and helped Mary Lincoln make dinner for their boys. Other neighbors' homey reminiscences told of Abraham shopping for groceries and milking the family cow stabled in the backyard barn with his horse, Old Bob. There must be more to this part of the Lincoln family story! The joyful prospect of research with books, pots, and pans immediately drew me in.

For me,
food is the stuff of
memory and of discovery. The cultural studies label is “foodways,” but I think the best word is “
cooking.” And for the past two decades, cooking with century-old recipes, then eating meals made from them, has been my path for understanding and interpreting social trends and historical events.

Everyone has a favorite meal that brings forth a vivid memory or a dish that captures a moment in time: A taste of homemade peach ice cream immediately conjures up a summertime front porch. A holiday sweet-potato casserole Aunt Minnie always made brings memory of her to the table when she no longer comes. Sometimes the memory begins
with food preparation. Just about every time I sit with a mixing bowl full of fresh
green beans, I recall the blue-and-white bowl on my grandmother's lap as we sat in the screen porch snapping beans forty—no, fifty—years ago. I can almost see and hear the rowdy Tobias boys next door running around to the side yard, their Boston bulldog chasing them as fast as its stocky legs could carry it, and the porch swing squeaking as my grandfather sat, reading the paper and waiting for dinner.

I also remember vividly the first
“antique” recipe I made, and the delight that drew me into this area of
study. I had been struggling to understand everyday life for the Jemison family in 1860s Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I was doing public relations and fund-raising for the restoration of their antebellum town home. The elegant Italianate structure had many stories to tell—architecture, state-of-the-art engineering, political and Civil War history—all of it well documented. But I was searching to find a way to reach the lives of Robert Jemison, his wife, Priscilla, and their daughter, Cherokee. Then I found Mrs. Jemison's pencil-scrawled household notebook in the archives at the University of Alabama.

Mrs. Jemison had written down two recipes. The recipe for a “jumble” intrigued me. I've baked and cooked since I was ten. It was obvious this was some kind of cookie, biscuit, or muffin. The mostly familiar ingredients were listed. Measurements were sketchy in the style common to mid-nineteenth-century cookbooks. There were no directions. Several days of research among the century-old cookbooks in the library stacks and dozens of test versions baked in my kitchen later, I had the perfect reconstruction of Mrs. Jemison's
jumbles. One friend, whose family had Alabama roots five generations deep, gave me the highest compliment: “They taste just like my great-grandmother's tea cookies.”

BOOK: Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen
10.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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