Author Archives: The Historical Homemaker

Today in American History…Ronald Reagan was Born 🇺🇸

Official White House Picture from 1981

Today in American history…our 40th U.S. President, Ronald Wilson Reagan, was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois.

To honor President Reagan on his birthday we made some of his favorite foods in the kitchen tonight. One of them was Macaroni and Cheese (be still my heart!). While doing research for recipes, I was fortunate to come across Nancy Reagan’s personal recipe.

Ronald Reagan’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese

President Reagan also loved baked apples. Great comfort food! So we made baked apples tonight as well 🍎😋 We used the recipe from Baked with Love right here

Have to top with ice cream of course!

And we couldn’t end the night without indulging in his ultimate favorite: jellybeans. President Reagan once said, “You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans.”

Grilled Cheese…One of FDR’s Favorite Foods!

What was President Franklin Roosevelt’s favorite food? According to Henrietta Nesbitt, the White House housekeeper during his administration, President Roosevelt had a very simple taste in foods. He liked food “he could dig into.” Among his favorite dishes were scrambled eggs, fish chowder, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, and fruitcake.

Instead of the traditional grilled cheese, we did it with a “twist” with bourbon caramelized onions and ALOT of cheese (of course!)

Grilled Cheese with Bourbon Melted Onions

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large red onion, halved, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp bourbon

1 1/2 tsp + 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

12 ounces (3 cups) of your favorite grated cheeses (we used cheddar blend and mozzarella

8 slices of crusty bread (we used Sara Lee’s Artesano Bakery Bread – because it’s my favorite!)

Directions

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramelized and very tender. Stir in sugar, salt, and pepper. Add bourbon, scraping up all brown bits in bottom of skillet. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoon butter until melted; keep warm. (Makes about 1 cup.)

In a medium bowl, toss cheeses until well combined. Divide evenly into 4 portions; press each into a disk-like patty to fit the size of the bread slices.

Spread 1/4 cup of the onion mixture on each of 4 slices of bread. Top each with a cheese patty and another slice of bread. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoon of the butter on 1 side of each sandwich.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Place 2 sandwiches, butter side down, in skillet. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown. While first side is cooking, spread 1 1/2 teaspoon of the butter on other side of each sandwich. Turn sandwiches and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until second side is crispy and golden brown and cheese has melted. Repeat with remaining 2 sandwiches.

Today in American History…Nancy Hanks Lincoln was Born

Today in American History…Nancy Hanks Lincoln was born on February 5, 1784 in Hampshire County, Virginia (present day Mineral County, West Virginia).

Not much is known of Nancy Hanks Lincoln except for the most important aspect: she was Abraham Lincoln’s mother. There aren’t any pictures of her – only a depiction (made into a painting by Lloyd Ostendorf, February 12, 1963. We do know that she was a warm, caring mother and that her son, Abraham Lincoln, loved her very much. He was only nine years old when his mother died of milk sickness on October 5, 1818.

Throughout his life, he recalled the love of his mother and once said, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”

William Herndon, law partner and a close confidante of Abraham Lincoln, later wrote a book, Life of Lincoln, and described Nancy Hanks Lincoln most likely from Lincoln’s memories of his mother and those who knew her:

“…She was above the ordinary height in stature, weighed about 130 pounds, was slenderly built, and had much the appearance of one inclined to consumption. Her skin was dark; hair dark brown; eyes gray and small; forehead prominent; face sharp and angular, with a marked expression for melancholy which fixed itself in the memory of all who ever saw or knew her. Though her life was clouded by a spirit of sadness, she was in disposition amiable and generally cheerful…”

National Carrot Cake Day 🥕 🍰

Many historians believe Carrot Cake originated in the Middle Ages when sugar and other sweeteners were scarce. (Carrots were used as a substitute.) The earliest known recipe for carrot cake can be found in a French cookbook published in 1827.

The popularity of carrot cake was revived in the United Kingdom because of rationing during World War II.

Here is the recipe that we from Inspired Taste. My husband aka official taste tester says that it’s the best carrot cake he’s ever tasted and that it’s incredibly moist. Check out their site here for more delicious recipes…I know I will be!

Here’s what you will need for the Carrot Cake batter
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl until very well blended.
In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.
Add the eggs one at a time and whisk after each one
Add the flour mixture
Switch to a large rubber spatula. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the dry ingredients in three parts, gently stirring until they disappear and the batter is smooth.
Add the carrots
…and the nuts. I used a mixture of pecans and walnuts.
Divide the cake batter into two prepared cake pans: two greased 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper and then grease the top. Or grease and flour the bottom and sides of both pans.
Bake until the tops of the cake layers are springy when touched and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes then carefully turn the cake layers out into cooking racks. Remove the parchment paper and cool completely. If you find that a cake layer is sticking to the bottom of a pan, leave the cake pan upside down and allow gravity to do its thing.

Now onto the frosting…

I used my own traditional recipe for cream cheese frosting (although the recipe from Inspired Taste sounds amazing!)

Cream Cheese Frosting (for a 2 layered cake)

1 cup of butter (2 sticks) softened

2 blocks (not the spreadable kind) of Cream Cheese softened to room temperature

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

32 oz Confectioners Sugar

Here’s what was used for the cream cheese frosting
Mix the butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Add the confectioners sugar. Use a mixer until well blended and smooth.
The finished product. A delicious homemade Carrot Cake 😋
Can’t keep it around long in my house haha!
Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Clark Gable!

Today in American history…Clark Gable was born on February 1, 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio.

His most famous movie role would be as Rhett Butler in the classic movie Gone with the Wind which premiered on December 15, 1939.

Not only was he a world famous movie star…he also signed up for the US Army under the Army Air Forces on August 12, 1942. During World War II, he flew several combat missions and was promoted to Major in 1944. He rseigned his commission with the US Army in 1947 and was awarded several military honors for his service:

The Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

After his military service, Clark Gable resumed his acting career until his death on November 16, 1960.

Today in American History…President William McKinley was Born on January 29, 1843 🇺🇸

Today in American history…former President William McKinley was born on January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio to William McKinley Sr. and Nancy (Allison) McKinley. He was the seventh of nine children born into the family.

He was our 25th U.S. President from March 4, 1897 until his death on September 14, 1901.

Before he was elected as our 25th President, he was also:

On the battlefield at Antietam, as a member of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.

A Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio from 1877 to 1891.

Governor of Ohio from 1892 to 1896.

Some other interesting facts about President McKinley are:

The first President to ride in an automobile while in office.

The first President to use a telephone to campaign for votes.

During the Civil War, William McKinley’s commanding officer was Rutherford B. Hayes, who would go on to become the 19th President of the United States.

President McKinley’s portrait was featured on the $500 bill which last printed in 1934.

He had a parrot named “Washington Post” who could whistle to the tune of Yankee Doodle.

President McKinley’s inauguration on March 4, 1897 was the first presidential inauguration to be filmed.

President McKinley’s favorite flower was the carnation and he wore them as a good luck charm on his lapel. While attending the Pan-American Exposition on September 6, 1901, he greeted a line of well-wishers. He happened to pull his red carnation from his lapel and gave it to a little girl waiting in line and within seconds was shot. He passed away eight days later on September 14, 1901.

(National Portrait Gallery at The Smithsonian in Washington, DC)

National Chocolate Cake Day

National Chocolate Cake Day was yesterday, January 27th, so to celebrate this wonderful occasion what better thing to do than to make a chocolate cake. Any excuses to eat cake! 😋

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

My “go-to” recipe for chocolate cake is always the classic Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake recipe. You just cannot fail with this deliciously moist chocolate cake – and it’s so easy to make!

I’m more of a standard buttercream or cream cheese icing kinda girl but my husband loves chocolate cake with peanut butter icing. So…gotta compromise haha – so peanut butter butter cream icing topped this yummy cake (recipe below)

Here’s what you’ll need to make the cake

Hershey’s “Perfectly ChocolateChocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

2 Cups Sugar

1 3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour

3/4 Cup Hershey’s Cocoa

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Salt

2 Eggs

1 Cup Milk

1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Boiling Water

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
Add boiling water to the cake mixture
Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
Prepare your pans (grease, line with parchment paper and grease again!)

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Peanut Butter Butter Cream Icing

Ingredients

1 Cup softened (not melted!) Butter

2 Cups Confectioners Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Milk

Peanut Butter

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter and confectioners sugar. Add a little milk a little bit at a time for a smooth consistency. Add the vanilla extract.
Time for the Peanut Butter! Make sure to use Creamy (not crunchy!)
Add a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter to the mixture. Can use a little more if you want more peanut butter.
After the cake is thoroughly cooled than it’s time to put the icing on. So much fun! I had miniature snickers and Hershey bars on hand so I chopped and decorated for garnish.
So delicious!

Thomas Jefferson’s Marinated Asparagus

My husband asked that I make something other than sweets (at least for today) – he can only indulge in so much! 🤣 So I decided on a much healthier recipe and, of course, it’s something very easy to make and you can make in your own kitchen too! Also, how cool is it to eat something Thomas Jefferson enjoyed.

At home in Virginia at his beloved Monticello, Thomas Jefferson had a large garden of different varieties of basically anything you can possibly think of. From herbs to fruit to the most luscious vegetables including asparagus which was one of his personal favorites.

I used the recipe here.

Here’s what you will need to make Marinated Asparagus
Trim the asparagus and then wash
Boil until tender (about 3-5 minutes)
Drain after boiling. Let the asparagus soak in cold water for a few minutes.
Prepare your marinade mixture
Pour the marinade gently to the asparagus. Add more eggs or parsley for garnish if needed.

Maryland Biscuits

In former First Lady Julia Grant’s personal memoir, she refers to the deliciousness of Maryland Biscuits and how they were a favorite in the Grant household. So…I thought I would make something that Julia Grant and her family enjoyed very much – especially since today is her birthday!

Here’s what you need:
Flour, Milk, Salt and Butter
After adding the salt to the flour…cut the butter into the flour. Use your hands if you have to!
Adding the milk to the flour mixture
Mix the dough really well. Then put onto a floured work surface.
Get those muscles ready to work out with a rolling pin 💪
Use a biscuit cutter to cut the circles
Place on a well greased baking sheet
Maryland Biscuits are fresh from the oven! 😋

Maryland Biscuits Recipe

Ingredients

4 cups unbleached flour*
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup lard or butter
1 ½ cup water, milk or cream

Directions

1: Place flour, salt and lard/butter in a mixing bowl. Cut (mix) lard into flour using finger tips until lard in mixed into flour.

2: Mix in a little of the water or milk at a time, mixing to create a stiff dough. Note, if dough is too dry, add a little more liquid. Too wet, add a little more flour.

3: Place dough on a work table that has been lightly floured.

4: Using a mallet or a rolling pin beat the dough until it begins to blister. This takes about a half hour.

5: pat out dough and cut into rounds or pinch dough off to make small balls about the size of a small egg and flatten a little before placing on baking sheet.

6: Place biscuits on a greased baking pan. Using a fork poke a few holes in the top of each biscuit.

7: Bake at 425 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes – until brown. Serve hot

Makes about 2 dozen biscuits.

*I used regular flour for this recipe. The biscuits came out fine – delicious!

(Recipe from The National Park Service at https://www.nps.gov/)

Happy Birthday, Julia Grant 🇺🇸

Today in American History…former First Lady Julia Grant was born on January 26, 1826 near St Louis, Missouri. Later in life, when writing her personal memoirs, she described her childhood as “one long summer of sunshine, flowers, and smiles…”

Mrs. Grant is the first First Lady to have written her memoirs. When she passed away in 1902 the manuscript remained private and unpublished for decades.

The book, The Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant (Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant), was officially published by Southern Illinois University Press in 1975.

(Photo by Matthew Brady)