Sunday, May 23, 2010

Harry Truman's Food Conservation Speech and "Meatless Monday" Tuna Noodle Casserole

On October 5, 1947, Harry Truman made the first televised presidential address from the White House. In it, he asked Americans to reduce their use of grain in order to help feed starving people overseas.

At the time of his “Food Conservation Speech,” Europe was still recovering from the devastation of World War II and suffering from widespread famine. Truman asked farmers to reduce their use of grain and asked the public to avoid meat on Mondays, eggs and poultry on Thursdays, and to "save a slice of bread each day."

Within days, restaurants all over the country had pledged their support while the New York Times invited readers to write in for a free pamphlet of meatless recipes, including a “canned salmon bake topped with crushed potato chips.” Truman, for his part, lunched on a “symbolic cheese soufflĂ©.”

Tuna Noodle Casserole was another popular "Meatless Monday" dish. If you'd like to whip up a batch, here is a quick and easy, no-nonsense recipe that has been adapted from Bess Truman’s handwritten recipe which is on file at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri.

12 ounces elbow macaroni
1 can white albacore tuna, drained
1 can cream of celery soup
1/3 cup milk
¾ cup cheddar cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 2 ½ to 3-quart casserole dish.

In a medium saucepan, cook the noodles until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Remove and drain well. In a medium bowl, combine the noodles, tuna, soup, and milk. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix together bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl, then sprinkle bread crumb mixture and cheese over the top. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are slightly browned. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Andrew Johnson Southern Hush Puppies

Hush puppies are usually made by deep frying cornbread batter in grease or lard. Although no one knows who came up with this fanciful name, some food historians say that it may have been coined during the years of scarcity following the Civil War, when cooks would toss scraps of fried batter to their hungry, yelping dogs, saying, “Hush, puppies!”

Popular in Johnson’s native state of Tennessee throughout the nineteenth century, these delectably greasy little treats were often served with fish or shellfish. Hush puppies and fried catfish is another particularly classic southern combination.

Special equipment: a deep-fry thermometer

1 cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg
¾ cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying (about 5-6 cups)

In a medium bowl, mix together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk, then add to cornmeal mixture and stir until well combined.

Fill a large, deep skillet with 2 to 3 inches of oil. Heat oil until it reaches 320°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches of 6, drop batter, 1 tablespoonful at a time, into the oil and fry until the hush puppies rise to the surface and are golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Allow oil to return to 320°F between batches. Serve immediately.