Friday, July 8, 2011

Making a "Presidential" Meal - Smart Summer Challenge

During the summer, we're participating in the Smart Summer Challenge and the second week focuses on government.  Doing a week-long government study has been a wonderful preview of what we will be doing in a couple of months when we begin our multi-year, multi-disciplinary study of each of the states in the U.S.A. 

On Thursday and Friday, we talked about coins, coin collecting, and some of the presidents represented on the coins. One of the presidents featured is Thomas Jefferson.

One of the things we learned is that several of kids' favorite foods were introduced by Jefferson. Some historians believe that Jefferson introduced french fries and macaroni and cheese to the American colonies. It is written that Jefferson had "potatoes served in the French manner" served at a White House dinner in 1802.

Thomas Jefferson first served macaroni and cheese at the President’s House also in 1802. A recipe for macaroni and cheese is included in Mary Randolph’s popular 1824 cookbook, The Virginia Housewife.

Of course, the dish that Jefferson ate is nothing like the boxed version so common today. Rather, Jefferson's cooks used pasta and parmesan cheese imported from Italy. They cooked the macaroni until it was soft, and then coated it with butter and added cheese. The mixture was then placed in a casserole dish, dotted with more butter and cheese, and baked until it was slightly brown with some crustiness on top.

I made a version like this last week for a friend and her children who were visiting. The kids - who have had the boxed macaroni and cheese over the baked version more often - weren't huge fans of this "old fashioned" type of macaroni and cheese. Oh well.

In addition to french fries and macaroni and cheese, Jefferson helped encourage people to eat tomatoes. Many people in the colonies thought tomatoes were poisonous, so they wouldn't eat them. Jefferson proved that tomatoes were not poisonous, so they became popular.

To remember this, we had pizza for dinner (which had a tomato-base sauce). 

The girls having pizza while learning about Thomas Jefferson.

Historians are certain that Jefferson wrote the very first recipe for ice cream in the American colonies. In celebration of this, we tried a new recipe for Cookies & Cream Floats.

To make them, you put a couple of scoops of Cookies & Cream ice cream into a cup. Slowly add some cream soda until it's at a consistency that you prefer (e.g., thicker malts need less soda; thinner malts need more soda).

Cookies and Cream

By learning about Thomas Jefferson, I came across an interesting blog called The History Chef! written by Suzy Evans. She has a Ph.D. in history from UC Berkeley, is a mother to four children, and writes the blog as she is writing a book about the presidents' favorite foods. Her goal is to help parents and children learn how to cook together while learning about history; and hopefully help them create many great memories and meals together.

I know this will be a blog that I will be using during the upcoming study about the United States. As we study about each state, we will see if any presidents were born in the one we are studying. If so, we will visit The History Chef! and try a recipe to tie into the presidential-state connection.

1 comment:

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

Wow! I learned something new too! Thanks so much for sharing and linking up with the Smart Summer Challenge : )