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.
This recipe is from Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis (1779-1852), known as Nelly, who was the granddaughter of Martha Washington and the step-granddaughter and adopted daughter of George Washington. Although Nelly Custis omitted sugar in her recipe for these lovely, delicate pancakes, published cookbooks of the period often suggested “strewing” sugar over them before sending them to the table. E. Smith, for one, additionally recommended garnishing them with orange, a suggestion also included here. This recipe can be readily doubled.
This recipe was adapted by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
Sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Orange slices for garnish
1. Combine the rice, cream, and butter. Add the eggs, stirring together until well blended.
2. Sift the flour with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and blend thoroughly into the rice mixture. Cover the batter and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°F.
4. When you are ready to cook the pancakes, remove the batter from the refrigerator and whisk together well. Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter is sizzling, add a small amount of batter to the pan to test the heat level. If necessary, reduce the heat to medium before cooking the pancakes.
5. For each rice pancake, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the prepared pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surfaces and the edges of the pancakes are lightly browned. Using a spatula, carefully turn the pancakes over and cook about 2 minutes more, until done. Transfer the finished pancakes, separated by parchment paper, to an ovenproof platter, and set them in the oven to keep warm. Prepare the remaining pancakes, adding more butter to the pan as needed.
6. To serve, lightly sprinkle the rice pancakes with sugar (if desired), and garnish with orange slices.
Research plus images & much more are available from the Mount Vernon website, MountVernon.org.