Friday, September 6, 2013

John F. Kennedy and the Rise of Space Food

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave a famous speech in which he reaffirmed America's commitment to landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Less than seven years later, on July 20, 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 space mission, astronaut Neil Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module (nicknamed “The Eagle”) and became the first man to walk on the surface of the moon. The crew spent a total of two and a half hours on the moon, performing experiments and collecting soil and rock samples to return to Earth.

So what in the world does this have to do with food?

A lot, if you’re talking about space food! According to sources at NASA, the first American astronauts had to eat bland, bite-sized cubes of food, freeze dried powders, and semi-liquids that were squeezed from aluminum tubes.

By the late 1960s, the quality of space food had greatly improved. The Apollo astronauts were the first to have hot water, which improved the food's texture and taste. Soon, hundreds of food and beverage items were available for astronauts in space. They could choose from beef stroganoff, chicken teriyaki, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti with meatballs, peanut butter, seafood, candy, cereal, nuts, and fruit.

Although President Kennedy never ate food in space, we do know that he liked New England clam chowder, seafood, baked beans, chicken, turkey, and sandwiches with soup, fruit, and corn muffins.

If you'd like to make some corn muffins today, these are the ingredients you will need:

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup milk

This is what to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin pan with butter. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add egg, oil, and milk, stir to combine. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 400 for about 15-18 minutes. Serve warm with butter and enjoy!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thomas Jefferson Macaroni and Cheese

So did you know that Thomas Jefferson was the first president to serve Macaroni and Cheese at the White House? Of course, the dish that Jefferson ate is nothing like the boxed version we are familiar with today. Using pasta and parmesan cheese imported from Italy, Jefferson’s chefs cooked the macaroni until soft, then coated it with butter and added cheese. The mixture was then placed in a casserole dish, dotted with more butter and cheese, and baked until it was slightly brown with some crustiness on top.

If you'd like to make some Thomas Jefferson Macaroni and Cheese today, these are the ingredients you will need:

Butter, for greasing dish
16 ounces large elbow macaroni
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (packed) freshly shredded Parmesan
2 cups (packed) grated mozzarella
2 cups (packed) Romano cheese
2 tablespoons butter

This is what you do:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse.

In a large bowl, whisk the milk, flour, salt and pepper until blended. Stir in 1 ½ cup Parmesan, 1 ½ cup mozzarella and 1 ½ cup Romano cheese. Add the noodles and butter and toss to coat.

Transfer the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan, mozzarella and Romano cheese over the noodle mixture. Bake until the cheese begins to lightly brown on top, about 12-14 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dolley Madison Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

Legend has it that in the early nineteenth century, a freed slave named Sallie Shad went into her family’s catering business in Wilmington, Delaware. Sallie supposedly became famous there for a new dessert sensation she created with frozen cream, sugar, and fruit.

When Dolley Madison heard about this new dessert, she supposedly travelled to Wilmington to try it. The First Lady must have loved it because a "magnificent pink dome of ice cream" was served at President Madison’s second Inaugural Ball in 1813, and ice cream often appeared as the official dessert on the White House menu during his two terms of office.

If you’d like to make some Dolley Madison Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream today, this is what you’ll need:

2 cups sugar

5 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

1 quart heavy fresh cream

This is what to do: In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups sugar with sliced strawberries, let stand for about 4 hours. Mash and strain. Add remaining sugar and mix well. Beat in heavy cream and freeze for 3-4 hours. Serve chilled and enjoy!

George Washington Hoe Cakes

So did you know that by the time George Washington became president, he had lost almost all of his natural teeth? Because of constant pain from ill-fitting dentures, George had to eat soft foods, like mashed potatoes and hoe cakes, throughout most of his adult life.

Contrary to popular belief, George didn't wear a set of wooden dentures. Instead, his dentist handcrafted his dentures from elephant ivory, hippopotamus tusks, and parts of horse and donkey teeth.

If you'd like to make some George Washington Hoe Cakes today, these are the ingredients you will need:

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup heavy cream

honey and butter to taste (br />
This is what to do:

In a large pot of cold water, bring the potatoes to a boil. Pour the salt into the boiling water and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Mash over low heat with the butter, cream, and 2 teaspoons salt. Serve warm with butter and honey and enjoy!

John Adams Gooseberry (or Blueberry) Fool

As a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, John Adams was one of the fiercest advocates of the Declaration of Independence. Contrary to popular belief, the Declaration wasn't signed by all of the delegates on July 4, 1776. Instead, it was initially approved on July 2, 1776.

The delegates then continued debating and slightly revised it the following day and formally adopted it on the fourth of July. Most historians agree that the Declaration wasn’t signed by all the delegates (with a few holdouts) until nearly a month later, on August 2, 1776.

On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail in which he described these momentous events. This is what he wrote:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival...It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Although no one knows what John Adams ate on those momentous days, we do know that he was fond of Green Sea Turtle Soup, Indian Pudding, and a traditional eighteenth century British dish called Gooseberry Fool.

If you’d like to whip up some Gooseberry Fool, here’s a simple and simply delicious recipe to try. But since Gooseberries aren’t widely available in the United States today, you can use blueberries and call it Blueberry Fool.

These are the ingredients you will need:

3 cups blueberries

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup well-chilled heavy cream

In a large saucepan, cook berries and sugar over medium heat. Stir occasionally until thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Simmer berry and sugar mixture over low heat, about 2 minutes. Mash with a fork into a puree, about 3 minutes. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Serve chilled and enjoyed!