Shh. Don't tell, but I bought this lovely book for my mom for Christmas. No worries, she doesn't read my blog, so it will still be a surprise. I like it so much I wish it was for me. Don't they say that the best presents are the ones you'd buy for yourself. Or is that just wishful thinking? I love Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington, which we've visited a number of times. When I saw Dining with the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Entertaining, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon, edited by Stephen A. McLeod, it seemed like the perfect gift. I was afraid it would be more a cookbook than anything else, but it is a lovely coffee table book with loads of photos and a nice sampling of recipes from the period or modern variations thereof.
I've not had much of a chance to really look the book over, but it's one that is nice to dip into, flip through to just look at the photos and reads bits of, or even try some of the recipes. It looks like there is a bit of history about the Washingtons and their home, what Mount Vernon was like in the 1700s and how it was run--all aspects of life there. There are lots of colorful illustrations--both photographs of the interior of the house and other buildings and ephemera from the period. Would you like a little peek inside?
There are approximately 1000 books in George Washington's personal library and seven deal with gardening. I'm surprised there aren't more since Mount Vernon was a working plantation. He may have been President but he was also a farmer.
The recipes look surprisingly good. This is Yorkshire Christmas Pie, an English traditional Christmas food. It was also prepared for the Washingtons.
"Eighteenth-century Virginians delighted in sweets of all kinds, pies being among their favorites." Cherry pie is my favorite, too. The recipes in the book even include instructions from cookbooks of the period as well as notes from the Washington's cooks.
If you're interested in Colonial America this looks like a book to spend a little time perusing. I'm sure I'll be doing so before it needs to be wrapped and set beneath the Christmas tree.