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Dining In: Celebrate the holiday by eating like a president


Jimmy Carter likes grits and Barack Obama loves chili. Abraham Lincoln carried his mother’s gingerbread cookies in his pocket. John Adams and John F. Kennedy shared a love of seafood caught off the coast of their home state, Massachusetts.

On Presidents Day on Monday, you don’t have to look far to eat like our presidents.

If you like meatloaf, you can dine like Richard Nixon, who once professed a love of his mother’s recipe. As for George Washington, forget the cherry pie. History has recorded that he liked “a glass of wine and a bit of mutton.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower loved to make his own soups and stews in the kitchen in the family quarters in the White House. Perhaps it was something he learned during his many years in the military, when soldiers long for homecooked meals. Among his favorites, according to the National Archives, was vegetable soup, although he also loved his wife’s apple pie.

If you don’t want to cook presidential food, you can celebrate the day by heading for one or both of the Washington Crossing parks. Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville, N.J., will celebrate from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Johnson Ferry House, where Washington stayed during the Revolutionary War. Celebrations will include ginger snaps with hot and cold cider, a gingerbread baking demonstration, music and hands-on activities. For more information contact the Johnson Ferry House at 609-737-2515.

Across the river in Washington Crossing Historic Park, George Washington’s Birthday Party will be held Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Celebrations in honor of his 287th birthday on Feb. 22 will culminate with a cake cutting by the general himself at 2 p.m.

Lincoln’s February birthday also is celebrated on Presidents Day, and if you think he deserves a cake too, you might want to try this adaptation of his favorite almond cake from “Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen” by Rae Katherine Eighmey.

Abraham Lincoln’s Favorite French Almond Cake

4 large eggs, separated

½ cup granulated sugar,


¾ teaspoon pure

almond extract

¼ teaspoon pure

lemon extract

3 ounces blanched slivered

almonds, finely crushed or

chopped into 1⁄16-

inch pieces

¼ cup unbleached

all-purpose flour,

sifted 3 times

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a deep, large (3-quart) bowl beat egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks, then set aside.

3. In a second large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks until they are thick and have turned into a light yellow color. This could take as long as 5 minutes.

4. With the mixer running, begin adding the sugar about a tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the sugar is fully incorporated and the batter is thick.

5. Stir in the almond and lemon extracts and then the almonds.

6. Stir in the flour.

7. With a flexible rubber spatula, fold about one-third of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk batter to lighten it up. Then gently fold this lightened batter into the remaining egg whites.

8. Pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan.

9. Bake until the cake is firm and lightly browned on top, about 25 to 30 minutes.

10. Invert the pan over a bottle to cool completely before removing the cake from the pan.