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Archive for 'What’s Cooking Wednesdays'

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Whale Surprise!

Today’s guest post comes from Jennifer Audsley Moore, who is an archives technician and volunteer coordinator at the National Archives at Kansas City.

Whale: It’s what’s for dinner.

At least, that is how the U.S. Food Administration and U.S Bureau of Fisheries would have it. During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration was established under the Lever Act to ration food and stabilize prices. With farmers and other industries mandated to comply with the act, certain food items such as sugar, wheat, and beef became difficult to procure.

But for the majority of Americans, participation in food rationing was more strongly suggested than mandatory. Advertisements designed to admonish Americans into forgoing sugar, beef, pork, wheat in the name of patriotism abounded. American soldiers fighting in France needed beef and sugar rations, and Uncle Sam needed the ships normally used to import sugar and other luxuries for the war effort.

So just what were Americans at home supposed to serve for dinner? Not beef. Not pork. Chicken perhaps? No. How about whale? Yes, whale.

Perhaps this might not seem far-fetched in Alaska or even New England (although in the Midwest we tend to identify the East Coast with clam chowder and Maryland crab, not whale). But what about in Missouri, the heart and breadbasket of the nation? Catfish and trout may be plentiful … [ Read all ]

Time for (school) lunch

Schools around the country are back in session, and while course loads may vary greatly, students from kindergarten to high school all have a slot in their schedules for lunchtime.

On Wednesday, September 8, the National Archives in Washington will be showing the documentary film Lunch Line as part of our series of programs related to the exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” Lunch Line looks at the Federal National School Lunch Program, which began in 1946 and today feeds more than 31 million children a day. The film examines the origins of the program, shows how it works today, and brings together leaders from all sides of the school food debate to discuss its challenges and its future.

“What’s Cooking” contains several items related to the National School Lunch Program. One of these is a 1966 letter, handwritten on a school lunch menu, expressing to President Lyndon Johnson the “hope that this program can continue at a reasonable price for all students in our district.” There are also recipes for 100 portions of “ham shortcake” and other cafeteria offerings. The Today’s Document Tumblr blog is even dedicating this week’s posts to the school lunch, and you can find this poster and more there.

When I was in school, my lunches were packed by Mom (in a prized “Flying Nun” metal lunchbox for a couple of … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: A Commander-in-Chef’s Recipe for Vegetable Soup

The only five-star general ever to be elected President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower was a man of many accomplishments. That is why it should come as no surprise that Ike was a leader in the kitchen as well.

Throughout his Presidency, Eisenhower used the kitchen on the third floor of the White House to prepare his own soups and stews. A cookbook in the Eisenhower Presidential Library includes detailed recipes for old-fashioned beef stew, Mexican chili, and vegetable soup.

Since the 34th President was particularly fond of vegetable soup, his personal recipe can be found on the library’s web site.

According to the Eisenhower recipe, a good beef soup bone and a couple of pounds of beef or mutton are essential for flavoring. All of the meat should be placed in a kettle along with five quarts of water. It is important at this point to add a teaspoon of salt, a dash of black pepper, and some chopped garlic or onion. Once these instructions have been followed, the soup should be left to boil until the meat literally falls off of the bone.

Next, the kettle and stock should be placed in a very cool setting all night and until you are ready to make your soup the next day. A hard layer of fat will form on top of the stock, but it … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: National Waffle Day

Want a waffle with that earthshake?

All Virginia earthquake jokes aside, today is a momentous day indeed. On this day in 1869, Dutch American Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York, received a U.S. patent for the first waffle iron. Described as simply a “device to bake waffles,” the waffle iron was heated over a coal stove, and batter was poured on the griddle. Then the cover was shut, and after a few minutes, the iron was flipped over to cook the other side of the waffle. Breakfast would never quite be the same.

By the 1930s, the honeycombed griddle was a standard appliance in American kitchens, thanks to General Electric’s invention of the electric waffle iron. Responding to the demand, the Dorsa brothers created an easy waffle mix in the mid-1930s that would eventually become the frozen waffle brand Eggo. Belgian waffles—thick, fluffy waffles dressed with strawberries and whipped cream—were an immediate hit with Americans when Maurice Vermersch debuted his wife’s waffle recipe at the 1964 World’s Fair in Chicago. Today, waffles are a ubiquitous item that can be found in the frozen foods section of grocery stores and on breakfast menus everywhere.

But waffles of all sorts have been around far longer than 1964 or 1930—or even 1869.

Food history suggests that the earliest form of the waffle occurred thousands of years ago in ancient Greece. … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Please Pass the Leftovers

The National Archives current marquee exhibit, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?”, is drawing some good crowds and public press. It’s showing in our main building in downtown Washington through Jan. 3, 2012.

It’s all about how the Government has tried through the decades to dictate, or influence, what we should eat and why we should eat something from each food group each day. And dear Uncle kept changing the food groups. For a while, we had the food wheel, then came the food pyramid. Now we have the food plate — each of them divided into groups we were supposed to eat from each day.

One food group always left out is “Leftovers.”  We have no guidance on how much leftovers to eat each day.

When I was growing up in rural Missouri, leftovers were a staple at the supper table. Of course, there were leftovers from Thanksgiving and Christmas–turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey soup, and so on. Or just plain turkey all over again. 

We ate a lot of leftovers at our house. But I remember especially Mom’s tuna casserole.  Not many leftovers on that. She always made one when I came home from college on weekends. By the time I left a day or so later, there wasn’t a morsel to be found.

Actually, casseroles and other things like that, such as lasagna or baked rigatoni, often taste better left … [ Read all ]