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Presidential Palates, Part 6


Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933 – 1945), was known as a man of the people.  Perhaps guiding the nation through the dark and austere days of the Great Depression, gave him a true appreciation for the simpler things in life.

Roosevelt considered hot dogs a favorite meal.  Much to his mother, Sara Roosevelt’s chagrin, he even served them, along with cold beer, to England’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth when they visited his Summer White House in June of 1939.  There are many other documented occasions when hot dogs and other simple fare were served to White House visitors and prominent dignitaries during President Roosevelt’s administration.

Henrietta Nesbitt, the White House housekeeper in Roosevelt’s White, FDR was also very fond of a grilled cheese sandwich oozing with lots of cheese.  The recipe below would be a good choice for a foods lab activity, during which you could discuss the accomplishments of the FDR administration that affect their lives every day.

Reasons Students Should Be Grateful to FDR:

  • If you have an account at a community bank, you should be glad that FDR created the FDIC, which ensures the security of individual accounts.
  • If you have a job, you have FDR to thank for the size of your paycheck.  He created the federal minimum wage through the National Industrial Recovery Act.
  • If you did not have to go to work in a factory or other menial job when you were a little kid, you can thank FDR.  His office created the Fair Labor Standards Act, which banned the exploitation of child workers.
  • Finally, if you plan to drink responsibly when you are of legal age, you have FDR to thank.  He is responsible for abolishing prohibition.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

4 slices bread

3 tablespoons butter, divided

2 slices Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat skillet over medium heat.
  2. Generously butter one side of a slice of bread.
  3. Place bread butter-side-down onto skillet bottom and add 1 slice of cheese.
  4. Butter a second slice of bread on one side and place butter-side-up on top of sandwich.
  5. Grill until lightly and flip over; continue grilling until cheese is melted.
  6. Repeat with remaining 2 slices of bread, butter and cheese slice.

Yield:  2 servings

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Presidential Palates, Part 5

“If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”  Thomas Jefferson


Although best remembered as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States (1801-1809), Thomas Jefferson also had a storied diplomatic career.  He served as the minister to France during the crucial years following the Revolutionary War, from 1785 to 1789.  It was during his time residing in Europe that Jefferson was introduced to and developed a real passion for fine cuisine.  You could say that he was one of the original foodies!

Jefferson is credited with introducing and popularizing several foods that remain popular in American cuisine even today.  This list illustrates the culinary impact of one of our original founding fathers.

Ice Cream

It’s believed that Jefferson was introduced to ice cream during his diplomatic posting in France.  When he returned home, he brought recipes and an ice cream freezer to ensure he could enjoy his new favorite dessert for the rest of his life.  As president, he served ice cream at formal dinners on at least six occasions.  Jefferson’s  handwritten ice cream recipe is a part of the collection in the Library of Congress.

Macaroni and Cheese

Though Jefferson wasn’t the first person in America to serve macaroni and cheese, he is credited with popularizing it.  This is another dish that he discovered during his time in France.  He first served macaroni and cheese at a state dinner in 1802.  What we’ve come to consider comfort food, soon became the fashionable food of the day.

French Fries

Thomas Jefferson also brought back a French recipe for “pommes de terre frites à cru en petites tranches (potatoes deep-fried while raw, in small cuttings).”  Despite Jefferson’s enthusiasm for the deep-fried potatoes (cut into rounds, not sticks), they didn’t gain popularity until the 1900s.  His recipe predates cookbook recipes for French fries by half a century.

Parmesan Cheese

Jefferson loved Parmesan cheese so much that he wanted to replicate the production process in America.  Ultimately, he decided it was impossible to recreate the flavors in the cheese since it was made from the milk of Italian cows.  Instead, he had many wheels of Parmesan imported for his own personal use.


On a trip to Holland, Jefferson sampled waffles for the first time and was so pleased he immediately bought a waffle iron.


After sampling some of France’s finest champagne, Thomas Jefferson insisted on serving the beverage at most formal dinners he hosted.  He was such an avid fan, that he kept a corkscrew in the same carrying case as his toothbrush.

Champagne wasn’t the only wine appreciated by Jefferson.  He regularly drank one to four glasses of wine a day.  He ordered wines by the barrel from all corners of Europe, racking up a wine bill that exceeded $10,000 (over $212,000 in today’s currency) during his eight-year presidency.

This is a classroom-friendly version of Thomas Jefferson’s Macaroni and Cheese.  Hope your students enjoy making and eating it!

Macaroni and Cheese

3/4 cup elbow macaroni

1 tablespoon + 1  1/2 teaspoons margarine

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

1 cup milk

1 cup cubed American cheese


  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
  2. To make cheese sauce, in a saucepan melt margarine over medium-high heat.
  3. Stir in flour, salt and pepper to make a smooth roux.
  4. Add milk all at once; stirring constantly, cook 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to medium.  Add cubed cheese; stir until melted.
  6. Gently stir cooked macaroni into cheese sauce.  Turn into lightly greased 1-quart casserole.
  7. Bake in a 350° oven 30 to 35 minutes or till heated through and lightly browned.

Yield:  4 servings

More Presidential Palates tomorrow!  You’ll find many more activities, recipes and FACS-friendly historical facts in our resource, Historical FACS.


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Presidential Palates, Part 4


“A glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always welcome.”  George Washington

Our first president, George Washington (1789-1797), was a man of simple taste.  His love of nuts is said to have left him with only one natural tooth.  His habit of cracking nuts with his teeth resulted in a mouthful of false teeth made from a variety of materials–animal teeth, ivory and even wood, according to the Smithsonian Institute.

One of George Washington’s favorite regular menus started with cream of peanut soup and ended with Martha’s whiskey cake.  (President Washington was very fond of his mash.  He started a whiskey-distillation business at Mount Vernon after leaving politics.)

The Dining Room at Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s home.

Cream of Peanut Soup

2 tablespoons butter

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1  1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup milk

Snipped chives

Chopped peanuts for garnish


  1. Melt butter in medium saucepan.  Cook celery and onion until onion is tender, but not browned.  Stir in flour and cook about one minute.  Whisk in chicken broth, cooking until thickened and bubbly.
  2. Remove from heat.  Puree mixture in batches, in a blender, until smooth.  Return to saucepan.
  3. Add the peanut butter and milk, stirring to blend thoroughly.  Heath through, but do not boil.  Serve hot or cold.  Garnish with snipped chives and chopped peanuts, if desired.

cream-of-peanut-soupThis is a simplified version of the recipe that would have been served to Washington and his guests, but it has the same rich flavor and creamy consistency of the original.  It is also much more classroom-friendly.  Give it a try with your students!

More Presidential Palates tomorrow!  Happy Monday!