John Quincy Adams March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
A wise man told me once that “it’s not the menu you choose, but the men [or women] you choose” who make a meal. Nothing could more accurately describes John Quincy Adam’s attitude towards the dining experience. His extreme aversion to small talk and awkward demeanor is well documented. He continually found himself unable to “to make, control, or to change [conversation].” He sounds like the majority of social delinquents I have been on a dates with in the last year. “So what’s your favorite color?” Red? Cool.” To be fair, he was quite right in observing that small talk can be “desultory and superficial; and as a school, consists of more in making others talk then in talking.” It sucks President Adams, but you have to do it. To be fair, guests in smaller settings did observe he was better at deep and meaningfuls and was more tolerable when passionate about the subject. I mean, who isn’t?
His wife, Louisa, is the only foreign-born First Lady in US history. Born to American parents in London, she was a gracious hostess who enjoyed entertaining way more than her husband and was better at it. After all, she had made quite the impression in Russia (hard to do), where she held her own when John was U.S. Envoy. Ultimately, it seems she found her husband as awkward as everyone else did.
The edible offerings at their parties are remembered as being lovely and plenty, though President Adams was a notorious penny pincher. They certainly weren’t nearly as jazzy as in the Jefferson or Madison households, with the President being more concerned about the wine. Side note: After the first six columns, I have come to the conclusion there wasn’t a single human in Colonial America not obsessed with wine. Oh, he also did love fruit (of all varieties). As long as he had breakfast at nine and dinner at five, he didn’t seem very fussy about what he ate. Snore.
I imagine President Adams would have detested the petty obsession with pumpkin spiced everything that invades our lives, on every medium, in the fall. How basic. Well John, since we can’t solve world peace, balance a budget, or even get along, we are going to embrace the simple pleasures that the fall gives us and leave the serious chats for those long winter months.
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp nutmeg
½ tsp ginger
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup water
2 cups cooked pumpkin, mashed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sugar. Add remaining ingredients and beat well until well blended. Transfer batter into 2 well-oiled 5 x 9 – inch loaf pans. Bake 1 hour. Remove breads from pans and place on their sides on a wire rack to cool.
From Famous White House Recipes, Volume 1, American Collection Cookbooks
For the cooked pumpkin, do not use pumpkin pie filling as it is already spiced
Add a handful of chocolate chips to the batter for some extra magic.
For serving, try cinnamon brown sugar butter. Add equal parts brown sugar and cinnamon to softened butter (twice the amount of butter to the additions). Melt it over the bread when warm.
Syllabub- A dessert and drink all in one
I have been avoiding syllabub as long as humanly possible. A favorite of the colonials, there are a variety of recipes available (some with wine, some cider, some whipped, some berry, the list goes on…). Many of the older recipes ask you to milk your cow directly into the mixture. If you do have a cow, please don’t. That gives me nightmares. Here is a recipe from Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery from 1796:
A Whipt Syllabub Take two porringers of cream and one of white wine, grate in the skin of a lemon, take the whites of three eggs, sweeten it to your taste, then whip it with a whisk, take off the froth as it rises, and put it into your syllabub glasses or pots, and they are fit for use.
A porringer is a small shallow bowl. I would just suggest, instead of using this vague measurement, to just go with a 2 to 1 cream to wine ratio.
If you are not crazy about raw egg whites (I’m not), whip the cream component and you will end up with a pleasant frothy consistency.