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Presidential Palates, Part 10

I’ll be wrapping up this blog series this week since mercifully the presidential election will finally be history next week.  I still have several former presidents’ food foibles and recipes to share with you, so each of the upcoming posts will feature information about more than one.  Next Monday I plan to share a multiple choice quiz based on information from each of the Presidential Palates blog posts.  Sometime next week, you will be able to download the entire series with quiz in PDF format for free from our website www.freshfacs.com.


For many years, Bill Clinton (1993 – 2001) was a regular at Doe’s Eat Place in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he’d indulge in greasy cheeseburgers with generous amounts of mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles and onions.  The President’s passion for McDonald’s fast food was so well known, that it was once spoofed on Saturday Night Live.  After heart-related surgeries in 2004 and 2010, President Clinton went vegan.  Unfortunately, his passion for rich foods are still a part of his food reputation.  This is a recipe that President Clinton would have enjoyed during his less health-conscious days.

The Classic Burger

1 pound ground lean (7% fat) beef

1 large egg

1/2 cup minced onion

1/4 cup fine dried bread crumbs

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 hamburger buns

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup ketchup

4 iceberg lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped

1 firm-ripe tomato, cored and thinly sliced

4 thin slices red onion


  1. In a bowl, mix ground beef, egg, onion, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well blended.
  2. Divide mixture into four equal portions and shape each into a patty about 4 inches wide.
  3. Lay burgers on an oiled barbecue grill over a solid bed of hot coals or high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 2 to 3 seconds); close lid on gas grill.  Cook burgers, turning once, until browned on both sides and no longer pink inside, 7 to 9 minutes total.  Remove from grill.
  4. Lay buns, cut side down, on grill and cook until lightly toasted, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Spread mayonnaise and ketchup on bun bottoms.  Add lettuce, tomato, burger, onion, and salt and pepper to taste.  Set bun tops in place.

Yield:  4 burgers


Bill Clinton and George W. Bush share a passion for Mexican cuisine.  A special favorite of both of these former presidents is Chicken Enchiladas.  This recipe should please both of these fine southern gentlemen.


Easy Chicken Enchiladas

3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

10 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed

Pico de Gallo, optional


  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, chicken, sour cream, soup, chilies, onion, pepper and salt.  Spoon about 1/2 cup off center on each tortilla; roll up.  Place seam side down in a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.  Uncover; sprinkle with remaining Cheddar cheese.  Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Garnish with Pico de Gallo, if desired.

Yield:  10 servings

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Presidential Palates, Part 9


President Abraham Lincoln (1861 – 1865) is one of the most studied and analyzed figures in all of American history, so it’s not surprising that we know quite a lot about his food preferences and habits.  Several books have been written about Mr. Lincoln’s culinary tastes (I myself own two of them!) so it’s something of a challenge to synthesize a few interesting facts and recipes from all of this published information, but I’m going to give it a shot.

It’s said that Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln had a hard time getting him to remember to eat at all.  When she did discover foods that he truly enjoyed, she made sure that they were available whenever he wanted them.  For the most part, his food tastes were simple.  He loved fresh fruit, particularly apples.  One of his favorite meals was simply fresh fruit and nuts, cheese and crackers.

While debating Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln amused the audience with a childhood story about his mother’s gingerbread men.  Gingerbread men remained one of Lincoln’s favorite treats throughout his life.

“Once in a while my mother used to get some sorghum and ginger and make some gingerbread.  It wasn’t often, and it was our biggest treat.”  Abraham Lincoln


Gingerbread Men Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large mixing bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add molasses, egg and vanilla; mix well.
  3. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.
  4. Press dough into a thick flat disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate four hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface.  Cut into gingerbread men shapes with 5-inch cookie cutter.  Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown.  Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove to wire racks; cool completely.  Decorate cooled cookies as desired.  Store cookies in airtight container up to 5 days.

Yield:  24 gingerbread men

President Lincoln had a particular passion for oysters just about any way they were served.  Oysters were served at Lincoln’s second inaugural dinner along with poultry, tarts, jellies, and terrapin stew (stew made from turtles).  An interesting footnote to that dinner is that it hilariously evolved into a food fight because there wasn’t enough food to go around!  The Washington Evening Star reported, “The floor of the supper room was soon sticky, pasty and oily with wasted confections, mashed cake, and debris of foul and meat.”  What a sight that must have been!

Other foods that Mr. Lincoln particularly enjoyed were bacon, corn cakes, and chicken fricassee with herbed biscuits.

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Presidential Palates, Part 8

President Jimmy Carter (1977 – 1981) brought southern hospitality into the White House along with his taste for simple, country food.  In an interview with Oprah, President Carter describes the transition this way. “The favorite meal is country food. When we got ready to move into the White House, Rosalynn went in—one of our staff members did—and asked the cooks and so forth at the White House, ‘Do you think you can make the kind of meals that the Carters are going to enjoy?’” President Carter tells Oprah. “And their response was, ‘Yeah, we’ve been cooking that kind of meal for the servants for the last 20 years.’”

Whether a visitor hailed from south Alabama or the South of France, they were often treated to a heaping bowl of grits, baked with cheese, during visits to Carter’s White House during the breakfast hour.  Other favorites of the 39th President are cornbread and sirloin steak.

Cheese Grits Casserole

2 1/4 cups whole milk

2 1/4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup quick-cooking grits

1 (8 ounce) package processed cheese (such as Velveeta), cubed

1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, cubed

1/4 cup butter

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

2 eggs, beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Butter a 9 x 12-inch baking dish.
  2. Bring milk, water, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan; gradually sprinkle grits into the boiling liquid, stirring to combine.
  3. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir processed cheese, sharp Cheddar cheese, butter, and garlic powder into grits, stirring until cheese has melted.
  5. Let the mixture stand until cooled, about 15 minutes.  Stir beaten eggs into grits; transfer to prepared baking dish.
  6. Bake in preheated oven until the top is lightly golden brown and the grits are set, about 45 minutes.

Yield:  10 servings

I will wrap up this blog series next Friday!  Have a great weekend!