Dwight D. Eisenhower was our 34th president, the only one ever elected who was a 5-star general. He may also have been the only president – certainly one of few – ever to barbeque at the White House.
PRESIDENT DWIGHT EISENHOWER & FIRST LADY MAIME EISENHOWER
When we think of President Eisenhower, most of us remember his military achievements, the fact that he created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), or any number of other accomplishments, and the fact that he was an ardent golfer. Today, most people no longer recall that Ike also loved cooking, and that he was well-known for it. The public clamored for his recipes, especially his vegetable soup and beef stew, many of which were reprinted in newspapers around the country.
Dwight D. Eisenhower learned to cook as a child, and as President, he frequently used the kitchen on the third floor of the White House to prepare his favorite dishes. Perhaps that reflects his heritage as a son of America’s heartland. Born and raised in Abilene, Kansas, in a speech delivered upon his homecoming from the war in Europe, he stated, "The proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene." Throughout his life, he retained strong feelings for agriculture.
PRISTINE EXAMPLE OF A DINNER PLATE FROM DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER'S WHITE HOUSE CHINA SET - NOW PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
In a Special Message to the Congress in 1956, President Eisenhower encouraged lawmakers to remember the importance of the country’s farmers. "The proper role of government, however, is that of partner with the farmer -- never his master. By every possible means we must develop and promote that partnership -- to the end that agriculture may continue to be a sound, enduring foundation for our economy and that farm living may be a profitable and satisfying experience."
Cooking was a satisfying pastime for Eisenhower. Many of his recipes were even collected into a cookbook entitled “Ike and Mamie’s Favorites.” But his most famous culinary activity was preparing his Coal-Fired Steak, something he often served visitors to the White House and also at Camp David, which was named for his grandson. This unusual method of “grilling” did not originate with Eisenhower, but to this day many still refer to the method as “Eisenhower steak.”
EISENHOWER DOING ONE OF HIS FAVORITE PASTIMES – GRILLING WITH SERGEANT JOHN MOANEY, HIS TRUSTED VALET
Here’s his recipe:
"Build a charcoal fire on the ground and let it burn until it is a bed of red hot coals. Get a sirloin steak 21/2 to 3 inches thick. Roll the steak in a mixture of fine salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Throw the steak in the fire. After about 10 minutes nudge it over once and let it stay in the fire for a total of about 20 minutes. Take it out, brush off, and slice on the diagonal."
Yes, the steak is cooked directly on the hot coals, not on a grill.
PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER WEARING HIS ROLEX
Reflecting back on his presidency in 1968, Ike wrote to Dillon Anderson, his former National Security Advisor, “Many people are always saying the Presidency is too big a job for any one man. When I hear this assertion, I always try to point out that a single man must make the final decisions that affect the whole, but that proper organization brings to him only the questions and problems on which his decisions are needed. His own job is to be mentally prepared to make those decisions and then to be supported by an organization that will make sure they are carried out."
Eisenhower knew that the process of mental preparation requires time for reflection and relaxation. For him, spending time in the kitchen – or outdoors tossing steaks into the fire – kept him close to his native heartland and helped him relax as he mentally prepared for the tough job of presidential decision-making.
RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR
World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired pieces from Dwight Eisenhower's White House China Collection. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical memorabilia has been his sole focus for more than three decades. His collection is the second largest privately-owned collection of White House China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.