See Amazing Handwritten Recipes from George Washington, Rosa Parks and Other Historical Figures
From George Washington's beer to Emily Dickinson's coconut cake, these recipes are penned by some of America's most famous names
GEORGE WASHINGTON'S 'SMALL BEER'
This recipe for homemade beer was found in the first president's 1757 military journal. Instructions—such as "Let this [beer] stand til it is little more than Blood warm"—give a sense of the former general's sensibilities. Obviously temperature-controlled facilities weren't a thing in Washington's time, so he also instructed brewers to "put a blanket" over the yeast if the weather was cold. Washington's signature ingredient was molasses, which Budweiser used to inspire their 2018 limited-edition Patriotic beer.
THOMAS JEFFERSON'S ICE CREAM
This is the first known ice cream recipe recorded by an American, according to Monticello.org. The site reports that Jefferson served this dessert at the President's House after first encountering the frozen treat in France. Penned by Jefferson himself, the recipe called for ingredients to be put over a fire "in a casserole" while stirring so it didn't stick. Once the mixture reached "near boiling," he recommended straining it through a towel and then puttng it in a sabottiere—an old French ice cream maker where a bucket is surrounded by a mixture of ice and salt.
EMILY DICKINSON'S COCONUT CAKE
According to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass., the kitchen was one of the rooms where the author "felt most comfortable." At the museum, you'll find a collection of Dickinson's handwritten recipes, including this one for coconut cake, which shows how baking often intersected with her creative writing process—she scribbled the beginning of a poem on the back of the recipe.
ROSA PARKS' 'FEATHERLITE PANCAKES'
This breakfast recipe comes straight from the kitchen of the famous civil rights activist. Written on the back of a banking envelope, it's suspected that the recipe was penned after Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus and lost her job because of it, NPR reports. After Parks and her husband moved from Montgomery, Ala. to Detroit in 1957, money was tight and, in an effort to be frugal, the couple often re-used paper. As for Parks' secret ingredient in her pancakes? It's peanut butter.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S FAVORITE BURGER
Hemingway devoted entire paragraphs in his novels to detailed descriptions of food—and he was just as particular about his meals in real life. This recipe, titled "Papa's Favorite Wild West Burger," was unearthed as part of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library’s Hemingway Letters Project, and it calls for nine ingredients to be mixed into lean ground beef. His handwritten notes can be found all over the paper, including one that calls for grated cheddar cheese to be added to the beef blend. One scribbled comment on the recipe reads, “There is no reason why a fried hamburger has to turn out gray, greasy, paper-thin and tasteless.”
JULIA CHILD'S PAIN DE MIE
Even the most acclaimed chefs cook straight from recipes. Found in the National Museum of American History, Child's handwritten pain de mie—a type of soft French bread—calls for both cold milk and room temperature milk, both of which are melted and poured into a "machine," presumably a bread machine. Julia Child's recipe also calls for "starter," which is uncommon in traditional pain de mie recipes.