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Smithsonian Books releases Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen
Front book cover of Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times by Rae Katherine Eighmey, released by Smithsonian Books on Feb. 4, 2014. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Books.
WASHINGTON, DC.- Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times, coming from Smithsonian Books Feb. 4, is a culinary biography that lets readers see the everyday life of President Abraham Lincoln. Midwestern cook and food historian Rae Katherine Eighmey uncovers authentic 19th-century recipes in period cookbooks and researches Lincoln’s grocery bills in Springfield ledgers to discover the foods that were cooked in his home. She solves riddles such as what type of barbecue could be served to thousands at political rallies when paper plates and napkins did not exist, and what gingerbread recipe could have been Lincoln’s childhood favorite when few families owned cookie cutters.

Eighmey puts all of these recipes and more to the test and adapts them for the modern kitchen—demonstrating, for example, how to turn a backyard grill into a cast-iron stove. Featuring 55 period recipes, this book allows today’s cooks to immerse themselves in the flavors and textures of foods from 1820 to 1865.

This culinary adventure is as much a history of the way America used to eat as a history of Lincoln himself. The depiction of life and food in the 19th-century evokes a sense of self-sufficiency and homespun charm, because the Lincolns and their peers selected ingredients from their gardens and pantries and made dishes that put these local ingredients to best use. With Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen, today’s cooks can whip up any of these recipes—corn dodgers, mock-mock-turtle soup, beef cakes, cucumber salad, piccalilli, jumbles, French almond cake and many others—and be transported to Lincoln’s table.

Eighmey, an award-winning author and cook, dynamically interconnects food and history. She is the author of seven books, including Soda Shop Salvation, Food Will Win the War and A Prairie Kitchen. Eighmey’s work and research brings the past to life and provides a fresh perspective on history. Her blog, What Lincoln Enjoyed Eating, and website, Rae’s Kitchen.net, explore both the historic and contemporary culinary worlds. Eighmey has also won blue ribbons in the Minnesota and Iowa State Fair food competitions.





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