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Dining In — Recipe of the Week: Pennsylvania Apees, tribute to a president

Presidents Day used to focus only on our nation’s most illustrious leaders, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who were both born in February.

Those two luminaries still get the lion’s share of attention each Presidents Day, but some years ago the holiday was extended to honor all of our nation’s presidents.

That means that if you want to eat like a president for the holiday, Feb. 17, you can dine on chicken fricassee like Lincoln, chicken enchiladas like Bill Clinton before he became a vegetarian, huevos rancheros like George W. Bush, baked grits like Jimmy Carter, honey-baked apples like Ronald Reagan, snickerdoodles like Grover Cleveland, just about any kind of pie like Barack Obama or eat Pennsylvania Dutch Apees, a cookie beloved by James Buchanan, the only president to hail from the Keystone State.

If you don’t want to try your hand at cooking presidential favorites, you can celebrate the holiday 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. 16 at the Johnson Ferry House, where Washington stayed during the Revolutionary War.

Celebrations will include refreshments, a history of gingerbread baking, music and hands-on activities. For more information contact the Johnson Ferry House at 609-737-2515.

On the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River in Washington Crossing Historic Park, George Washington’s Birthday Party will be held Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. and will include the “Draw George” drawing contest; prizes will awarded to those 12 and younger. At 3 p.m. the general himself will cut his birthday cake with his sword. For more information see

Most presidential favorite foods were regional recipes and often depended on ingredients that could be sourced locally. Buchanan’s beloved lightly sweetened Apees cookies were a favorite in Pennsylvania Dutch country and Philadelphia; this version comes from


2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, cubed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1¼ teaspoons caraway seed
¼ cup dry sherry

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.

2. Cut the flour into the butter until the size of peas. Mix in the sugar and spices. Add the sherry and stir well to make a dough.

3. Roll out on a floured surface to about ¼ inch thick. Cut into 3-inch rounds. Place onto greased baking sheets.

4. Bake until firm but not colored, about 14 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.