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February 27, 2024 38 mins

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In this Three Kitchens episode, we welcome Sarah Morgan, historian, researcher and recipe tester behind the Cooking with the First Ladies Instagram account.  When she happened upon a cookbook of recipes attributed to First Ladies of the United States, Sarah began her journey of learning about the wives of American Presidents through their favourite recipes. It's learning about history through cooking, and we love that. 

Sarah joins Erin and Heather to chat about this project, how it came about and some of the many recipes she has tried from the First Ladies Cookbook. Through her Instagram account, Sarah shares what she's learned about the women themselves and their role in not only the White House. 

Community cookbooks began as a way for women to come together, share recipes and to support a common fundraising cause. In the United States, the first of these charity cookbooks was published and sold in 1864 to subsidize medical costs for Union soldiers injured in the Civil War. And it seems the First Ladies of the White House were not to be left out of this tradition (or perhaps someone compiling the book on their behalf).

Sarah recommended we try two classic American recipes from the First Ladies cookbook for this episode: Pat Nixon's Meatloaf and Mamie Eisenhower's Fudge.  Pat's meatloaf has origins in war time, as she herself set the example and encouraged Americans to ration food and do with less.  Meatloaf, of course, is a recipe developed to stretch ground meat a little farther. Mamie's fudge is what you would call cheater fudge because it is intended to be easy and quick to make at home and includes marshmallow, which is not in a traditional fudge recipe. It was apparently a favourite of President Eisenhower.

Sarah has begun a new focus on her Instagram account, testing the recipes from another group of fascinating American women in history, the Calutron Girls. These women worked on the Manhattan Project by operating the calutron machine at Oak Ridge Tennessee (1943-45). Again, she's sharing a snapshot of community life through a cookbook compiled by a unique group of interesting women. 

Please show your support by following Sarah on Instagram @cookingwiththefirstladies - we guarantee you'll learn a lot about history and food! Scroll for all the links mentioned in this episode! 

Episode Links
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~ Cooking with the First Ladies Instagram
~ National First Ladies Library
~ Cooking with the First Ladies Website
~ Meatloaf Recipe
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