Category Archives: President’s Day

Happy Birthday Mr. Washington!

Today is February 22nd.  It’s the 278th anniversary of the birth of George Washington.  I call that cause for celebration.

washington bust with flags

The more I read about him, the more I respect him.   Sure, he was just a man, imperfect.  But he was absolutely essential to the formation of the United States of America.  He’s on my short list of people I’m anxious to meet someday.  Like Lincoln, he paid a high personal price for his service to his country.  I realize that countless others have done the same, others whose names I’ll never know or whose birthdays I’ll never celebrate.  But if we forget people like George Washington, can we properly remember any of the others?

Want to celebrate with us?  Whip up some hoecakes, Washington’s breakfast of choice.  (We often have them for birthday dinner.)  The Mt. Vernon recipe I have calls for yeast, and letting it sit out overnight, which doesn’t sit really well with me, so we use Lincoln’s recipe.   They’re quick, simple, and a fun twist on our pancakes today.  They called them hoecakes because you could put a spoonful of batter on the end of a hoe (or griddle) to cook it over the fire.  You can find my recipe here.

This evening I’m making a birthday cake to celebrate.  I’m using Martha Washington’s recipe for her Great Cake.  I’ve never tried it before and the entire recipe is approximately 3 sentences, but I’m optimistic.  I’ll share pictures tomorrow.

Until then, wave a flag, pause to remember, read the Constitution, read a book (I love this picture book), or do a little research to learn something you didn’t already know about this great man.  We owe an awful lot to his leadership.

Happy Birthday to one of my greatest heroes.


Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln!

Today marks 201 years [update 208 years now!] since Abraham Lincoln’s birth.  While we have a national holiday to celebrate the births of our two great presidents, both with February birthdays, we celebrate each one separately in our family.  Valentines Day is sandwiched between two birthday parties in this house!

Lincoln hat

February 12th is Mr. Lincoln’s day.  We get out the flags, read this book, and eat this food.  We talk about his life, his example, and what we can learn from him.

I like to do a little reading on my own, both of Lincoln’s own writing and also the writing of those who are scholars on his life.

I feel like pausing to celebrate him is my way of reaching back through the pages of history to thank him for his life and for his life’s work.  I wonder if any of us can know the terribly high price he paid personally for the unity of our nation.  Some scholars have written that he was depressed.   I think that few people in the history of the world have stood, alone, with such weight on their shoulders.  He and his wife buried a son while he was President.  That’s enough grief to make anyone depressed, even if losing children was a more common experience in his lifetime.  Imagine the terrible weight of the loss of life, destruction to property, and all the ugliness of war.  War on your own soil.  War between citizens of your own country.  A war which had to be won at all costs.  Trying to keep peace with other nations so that none would enter the war on either side.  Having trusted members of your cabinet, even your vice president, prove to be unworthy of your trust.  Oh, how lonely he must have been!  Lincoln himself said, “This war is eating my life out.”

I believe that Abraham Lincoln was born for the time he lived in, raised up by God to guide the United States of America through one of the most difficult chapters of its history,  guided by God in preserving the union which is represented by the Constitution.

I feel like forgetting him, choosing not to study and learn and try to teach my children, would be a betrayal on my part.  Remembering is the debt I owe, the offering I must make in gratitude for what he sacrificed.  He, who lived almost two centuries before me, and yet whose life influenced mine.  How I wish I could somehow reach back in time and ease his burdens, comfort his sadness, be a support.  I feel so grateful for his life.

This year I decided to make a new centerpiece for my table showcasing one of my all-time favorite quotes about Lincoln.  Joseph Auslander said, “Abraham wore a stovepipe hat that brushed the stars where he walked.”

Oh, do I love that quote!  Since one of the distinguishing characteristics of Lincoln’s attire was his hat, I thought it would be fun to make one and incorporate the quote in my creation.

stovepipe hat with stars

So, I created a hat using black paper and modge podge (rather scrappy, but I like it) and used a tea dyed strip of muslin to stamp the quote on.

hat band

I attached the strip of muslin like a hat band and added some glittered stars to the top of  the hat.

I’ve always had lots of patriotic decor and a few pictures of Lincoln, but nothing that represents him like this.

It’s a project I’ve intended to get to for years, to be honest.  Completing it this year has put a spring in my step.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

What do you do to celebrate President’s Day?

Lincoln’s Corn Cakes

Our family has a special tradition every February 12.  We eat hoecakes (otherwise known as corn cakes).  Corn cakes is probably a better term, but my children love the name hoecakes.  The name is a result of these cakes being cooked over a fire on the end of a hoe.

This was one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite foods.  He first ate them as a boy, and they remained his favorite breakfast food throughout his life.  He often bragged that he could eat them faster than anyone could make them.  He also enjoyed them for late Sunday supper.

Essentially, corn cakes are pancakes made with cornmeal instead of flour.  Start with 2 cups cornmeal and mix in 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Add one lightly beaten egg.

Then add 3 cups (yes, you read that right) buttermilk.

Mix until combined.  The batter will be fairly thin.

Cook in a hot pan sprayed with nonstick spray and serve with butter and maple syrup.  (Lincoln ate them drenched in sorghum syrup and butter.)

They are actually really yummy.  The buttermilk adds a tangy flavor that offsets the sweetness of the syrup.  Some members of our family actually prefer corn cakes over pancakes because the cornmeal makes them a bit heartier and gives them more texture.

corn cakes with syrup

I have actually used many different hoecake recipes over the years.  (I think Martha Stewart even had one on her website sometime!)  The version I’ve just shared with you is our favorite.

This recipe comes from a cookbook that I hunted down after contacting a museum for more information about the foods that Lincoln ate.  It’s not easy to find, but if you’re really interested, you can go on a treasure hunt of your own.  It’s titled “Lincoln’s Table”  by Donna D. McCreary.

Lincoln's table cookbook

Just in case you’re curious, George Washington ate them, too!  They make a perfect breakfast dish for President’s Day:  tasty AND historical!

Lincoln’s Corn Cakes

2 cups cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 lightly beaten egg
3 cups buttermilk

Mix together and cook like pancakes.  Have fun!

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