Martha Washington (1731-1802) - From the Garden to the Table
While George Washington oversaw most aspects of managing Mount Vernon's pleasure gardens & grounds, Martha Washington oversaw the Kitchen Garden (The Lower Garden), allowing her to keep fruits and vegetables on the table year round.
“…impress it on the gardener to have every thing in his garden that will be nece]ssary in the House keeping way — as vegetable is the best part of our living in the country.” – Martha Washington, 1792
Inside the Kitchen at Mount Vernon
In the matter of eating & drinking George Washington was temperate. For breakfast he ordinarily had tea & Indian cakes with butter & perhaps honey, of which he was very fond. His supper was equally light, consisting of perhaps tea & toast, with wine, & he usually retired at nine o'clock. Dinner was the main meal of the day at Mount Vernon, & usually was served at two o'clock. One such meal is thus described by a guest: "He thanked us, desired us to be seated, & to excuse him a few moments.... The President came & desired us to walk in to dinner & directed us where to sit, (no grace was said).... The dinner was very good, a small roasted pigg, boiled leg of lamb, roasted fowls, beef, peas, lettice, cucumbers, artichokes, etc., puddings, tarts, etc. etc." The General ordinarily confined himself to a few courses & if offered anything very rich, he would protest, "That is too good for me." He often drank beer with the meal, with one or two glasses of wine & perhaps as many more afterward, often eating nuts, another delicacy with him, as he sipped the wine.
3/4 cup red candied cherries
3/4 cup green candied cherries
1-1/4 cups brandy, divided
6 large eggs, separated
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-1/2 cups sliced almonds
1-1/2 cups golden raisins
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
In a small bowl, combine cherries and 1/4 cup brandy; let stand overnight. Place eight egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in remaining brandy. Gradually add flour to creamed mixture alternately with applesauce.
With clean beaters, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Fold in the cherry mixture, almonds, raisins and coconut. Gently spoon into a 10-in. tube pan with removable bottom coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
Research plus images & much more are available from the Mount Vernon website, MountVernon.org.
Colonial Era Cookbooks
1615, New Booke of Cookerie, John Murrell (London)
1798, American Cookery, Amelia Simmons (Hartford, CT)
1803, Frugal Housewife, Susannah Carter (New York, NY)
1807, A New System of Domestic Cookery, Maria Eliza Rundell (Boston, MA)
1808, New England Cookery, Lucy Emerson (Montpelier, VT)
Helpful Secondary Sources
America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking/Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
Colonial Kitchens, Their Furnishings, and Their Gardens/Frances Phipps Hawthorn; 1972
Early American Beverages/John Hull Brown Rutland, Vt., C. E. Tuttle Co 1996
Early American Herb Recipes/Alice Cooke Brown ABC-CLIO Westport, United States
Food in Colonial and Federal America/Sandra L. Oliver
Home Life in Colonial Days/Alice Morse Earle (Chapter VII: Meat and Drink) New York : Macmillan Co., ©1926.
A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America/James E. McWilliams New York : Columbia University Press, 2005.