Cooking Club

Even our country’s most influential and powerful figures throughout history pulled out their aprons and got cooking. We’ll dig up some of the best treats for you to cook your way through the catalog. Here you’ll find all the recipes and cooking content you may have missed from past weeks – or the content you want to see again!

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Booze on the Battlefield

The American love/hate relationship with alcohol was not assuaged by the advent of World War II. Some advocated for the return of Prohibition, stating that alcohol was Hitler’s best friend and that American households were better served by spending their spare cash on war bonds than on booze. General John J. Pershing publicly stated that “the United States Government should ban liquor from the nation, close saloons, punish drinkers, and if necessary, death to the seller.”

Others, including Admiral Chester N. Nimitz, enjoyed a drink and didn’t mind saying so. In fact, he created a recipe for what he christened the Cincpac Special, a mixture of bourbon and rum designed to stretch a soldier’s liquor ration to last more than a week at a time.

Admiral Nimitz recipe for the Old Fashioned Mix which he calls “CINCPAC SPECIAL”

  • 1 clean one gallon jug
  • 3 quarts Bourbon
  • 1/4 of a fifth of gold label rum
  • Add sugar cautiously until you can just detect the presence of sugar.
  • Fill remainder of jug with tap water.
  • Desirable, but not necessary: drop two whole vanilla beans into the jug to stay for many refills of the jug. They last for years.
  • Pour generous portions over ice and serve it forth:

This recipe was developed by Admiral Nimitz when he was Commander in Chief of the Pacific at a time when liquor was rationed, a bottle a week to a man and frequently rum was the only kind available.

A Seasonal Sweet Tooth

Gingerbread has been a staple White House holiday tradition throughout history, but First Lady Bess Wallace Truman changed the game when she combined two famous treats: gingerbread and brownies. Get the recipe for her mouthwatering hybrid below and try to keep them away from hungry pets!


  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup lard
  • 2 cups well-beaten eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Soda
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Nancy’s Pumpkin Pie

Nothing is more worthy of a Halloween-week feast than First Lady Nancy Reagan’s Pumpkin Pecan Pie Recipe. Quick, before pumpkins go out of season and the canned variety gets marked up, get yourself two cups of this seasonal food and whip up this Presidential favorite. We recommend topping it with a dollop of whipped cream!

Supreme Allied Commander of Pie

As a young girl, Mamie Doud never spent much time in the kitchen. But as a 19-year-old getting married to the future President Dwight D. Eisenhower, she hopped on the cooking train, and thus the Deep Dish Apple Pie was born.

This recipe is listed under both Ike and Mamie’s favorite foods, so this fall staple is fit for both a President and First Lady! Try it for yourself at home today. 

On the Rocks

While the sweet aroma of apple pie fills the air as it bakes in the oven, why don’t you whip yourself up a nice Manhattan cocktail to enjoy with it? This information letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is in response to a “non-alcoholic” recipe submission for a Manhattan cocktail, and an inquiry as to whether or not it would violate the Volstead Act. 

The Food and Drug Administration determined that the recipe would be acceptable, as long as those components were truly non-alcoholic. Thankfully Prohibition ended just a few years after this was published, so feel free to add that ½ wine glass of whiskey that the recipe calls for.

As American As Apple 🥧

Want to try your hand at a true American classic this July 4th? We can’t recommend Mamie Eisenhower’s famous deep dish apple pie highly enough to satisfy your summer sweet tooth.

Ike’s Vegetable Soup

Though all presidents know their way around the Oval Office, not all know their way around the kitchen quite like President Dwight D. Eisenhower. As a father to two sons, the president loved to cook and concocted his own vegetable soup recipe that made its way onto the kitchen tables of many Americans. In his very detailed recipe, Ike includes helpful tips and asides––including giving your dogs or the neighbors’ chickens leftover meat from the stock! Try your hand at his veggie soup recipe.

Download the entire Ike cookbook courtesy of the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

Mom’s Home Cooking

We all have that one special recipe our mom made us when we were sick, when it was our birthday, or just to make us smile. For First Lady Bess Truman, that nostalgia-evoking treat was the sponge cake her mother, Madge Gates Wallace, baked. Try your hand at this mother-approved classic!

Mother’s Sponge Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder


Break the eggs separately into bowls and beat until very light. Pour in sugar slowly, beating all the while add milk, flour and baking powder. Bake in greased muffin rings in moderate oven.

A Menu from the Executive Mansion

Invitations to watch a movie at the White House are almost as coveted as those to a state dinner. On March 24, 1948, 24-year old First Daughter Margaret Truman hosted a movie night at the White House. How does your movie night menu stack up to the White House’s? Here’s some inspo for your own movie night menu.

On the Kitchen Front

In World War I and World War II, rationing led Americans to get creative with their tasty treats. Check out these strange spins on classic desserts with unusual ingredient substitutions from World War I. We challenge you to make a treat with what you’ve got on hand in your pantry—or try one from our holdings. You know what they say, when life gives you lemons, or in this case, almond paste, make cannolis and Genoa cake!

World War I Cannoli Recipe


  • 1/4 lb. Almond paste
  • 3/4 lb. Sugar
  • 3 oz. Corn starch
  • 1 Gill milk (hint: you know a “gill” as ½ cup)
  • 3 Whites of egg


Almond paste and sugar must be made to a smooth batter with half milk and half white of egg, Vanilla flavor, the pan must be waxed and floured. The dough is spread [out], cut in a square, and when baked rolled to a cylinder shape and filled with cream. Bake in a medium oven.

For more minimalist World War I recipes, visit the National Archives Unwritten Record blog.

Scones Fit for a Queen

Looking for a royal start at the breakfast table? Try Queen Elizabeth’s traditional English scone recipe. In 1959, the Queen made drop scones for President Eisenhower using her family recipe. The following year, Queen Elizabeth sent the President a personal note, including an annotated copy of her recipe. In her letter, the Queen suggests substituting treacle (sugar syrup) for caster sugar and using a teacup for measuring.


  • 4 teacups flour
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 teacups milk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons bi-carbonate soda
  • 3 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter


Beat eggs, sugar, and about half the milk together, add flour, and mix well together adding remainder of milk as required, also bi-carbonate and cream of tartar, fold into melting butter

Source: National Archives and Records Administration

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