President John Quincy Adams was very fond of swimming and in warm weather went skinny dipping in the Potomac River not too far from the White House. Theodore Roosevelt also was known to skinny dip in the Potomac but he preferred icy waters. Presidents did not have access to a swimming pool at the White House until Franklin Roosevelt became president and people from all over the country, including school children, donated millions of dimes in 1933 for the construction of a heated indoor pool as therapy for Roosevelt whose legs were paralyzed due to polio. Subsequent presidents enjoyed using the pool and when President John F. Kennedy moved into the White House his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, commissioned a mural of sailing scenes (see photo at left) to illuminate the walls around the pool. When Richard Nixon became president, because the pool was located near the West Wing, he had a floor laid over the pool and the space was turned into a press briefing room to provide more space to accommodate the White House press corps. Again, donors came to the rescue in the form of private donations when Gerald Ford took over the White House and an outdoor pool
was constructed which continues to be used today. It is screened by trees and has a changing cabana and an adjoining spa. First Lady Barbara Bush used the outdoor pool quite frequently even though she once found a rat paddling around in the water.
Today 54 children and their parents came to the White House to attend the second annual Kids State Dinner hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. The dinner was the culmination of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge wherein families were invited to create original, healthy lunchtime recipes. A panel of judges from the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, and Epicurious considered over 1,300 entries to determine the winners from each state and U.S. territories. Check out the video from this afternoon's event.
President Thomas Jefferson introduced the American palate to french fries, burnt cream ( creme brulee), ice cream ,and macaroni and cheese. In the case of macaroni it is not clear whether Jefferson actually was the first to introduce macaroni and cheese but he served it both at Monticello and the White House often enough that the dish became very popular. The Library of Congress has preserved Jefferson's macaroni and cheese recipe. Jefferson also had the earliest known recipe for ice cream.
President Jefferson had an African American chef at the White House , Augustus Jackson, who left the White House to open his own ice cream shop in Philadelphia. Mr. Jackson is called the "father of ice cream" because he developed a
process that mixed ice with salt to lower and control the temperature of
ice cream which allowed him to deliver ice cream in tin cans all over
Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Jackson never applied for a patent.
Last summer First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a Kids' State Dinner at the White House, which was the grand prize in a nationwide recipe contest for kids 8-12 to promote healthy living. It was such a success, according to the First Lady, that the call has gone out for a second contest. Mrs. Obama has teamed up with Epicurious.com, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Education requesting submissions from kids between the ages of 8 and 12 and their parents or guardian for "an original lunch recipe that is healthy, affordable and tasty." The prizes include two-round trip coach class airplane tickets for each winner and parent or guardian plus a one-night hotel stay in Washington, D.C., and the Kids' State Dinner at the White House with Mrs. Obama. Find the official rules and submit recipes online at recipechallenge.epicurious.com. Recipes can also be submitted by mail at "The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge c/o Epicurious.com", 1166 Avenue of the Americas, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036. The deadline for submissions is May 12. Winners will be notified by the end of June. This year's Kids State Dinner will occur in July or August, 2013.
The menu today for President Obama's inaugural luncheon includes his favorite dessert: pie. The President will have to wait to the end of the luncheon to enjoy apple pie with sour cream and maple caramel sauce. Guests will begin the meal with lobster tail placed atop sauteed spinach and sweet potato hay and topped with New England Clam Chowder sauce. The luncheon entree is hickory grilled bison tenderloin with wild buckle berry reduction placed atop red potato horseradish cake. Also on the menu are baby golden beets, green beans, butternut squash puree and a selection of wines from New York State.
Does First Lady Michelle Obama's win in Family Circle's Presidential Cookie Bake-Off point to an Obama victory in the upcoming Presidential election? Family Circle thinks it might. The publication notes that, since 1992, "the winner of the Bake-Off has been a bell-weather in four of five elections." Mrs. Obama's White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (printed below) beat out Ann Rommey's M&M cookie recipe 51.5% to 48.5%. It will be interesting to see how these percentages compare to the percentage of votes cast for the presidential candidates in the general election. Here is the winning cookie recipe:
MICHELLE OBAMA'S WHITE AND DARK CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
1 Cup each white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips and mint chocolate chips (or Andes mint pieces)
2 Cups chopped walnuts
Method 1. Heat oven to 375°. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter, vegetable shortening, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract.
2. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, beat in flour mixture. By hand, stir in white and milk chocolate chips, mint chips and walnuts.
3. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
For the first time ever, kids will have their own State Dinner at the White House, thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama's "Healthy Lunchtime Challenge" contest sponsored through her Let's Move initiative to combat childhood obesity. Kids ages 8 through 12 had an opportunity to submit recipes that included all the major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and diary. Of the 1,200 entries submitted 54 were selected based on "originality, creativity, taste appeal plus an interesting story". The kids behind those 54 entries and their moms will sit down with the First Lady tomorrow for a meal which will feature samplings of the recipes. After the meal, kids will be treated to a concert by the boy band Big Time Rush.
George Washington loved ice cream. He purchased a "cream machine for ice" in 1784 according to the staff at Washington's home, Mount Vernon. Now, every Saturday during the month of August if you visit Mount Vernonin Alexandria, Virginia you can see demonstrations of Washington's favorite dessert made like it was in the 18th century and receive an adapted recipe to make at home.
Can a cookie bake-off predict the outcome of a presidential election? The Family Circle magazine seems to think so. Both First Lady Michelle Obama and Ann Romney, wife of GOP candidate Mitt Romney, have submitted their cookie recipes to be voted on by readers. According to Family Circle, since 1992, the poll is a predictor of the outcome of the presidential election, with the exception of 2008 when Cindy McCain's recipe for Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies was favored over Michelle Obama's Shortbread recipe. This time around Mrs. Obama's entry is White and Dark Chocolate Chip cookies and Mrs. Romney has entered a recipe for M&M cookies. To vote for your favorite, go to the Family Circle - Cookie Bake-Off Facebook page.