Yes, I know it's silly of me to celebrate Abe Lincoln's birthday. But (a) he was instrumental in keeping our nation united, (b) I think it's sad that kids are taught little or nothing about two of our most important presidents, Washington and Lincoln, and (c) It's February! What else is there to do in February?
With that in mind, the boys reread the story of Abraham Lincoln in Calvert School's 52 Famous Americans book (from their 3rd grade curriculum), and Mark made miniature Lincolnesque stovepipe hats for himself and Ryan. Fun fact: Lincoln's father bought his 300-plus acre farm in Ketucky for $200 plus assumption of debt. That was a lot of scratch in 1800. Anyway, Happy 199th Birthday, Abe!
I thought for a long time about what appropriate food I could cook for Lincoln's birthday. I concluded that they most likely would have eaten venison or bird, such as chicken or pheasant, and chicken was the easiest to find (in my freezer, of course; did anyone think I was out hunting in the snow and ice storm for food?), and further that Mrs. Lincoln would most likely have boiled that bird. So, Pierre Franey to the rescue with a delightful poached chicken recipe (which the boys are certain he adapted from Nancy Lincoln's personal repertoire). We did have "Smiling Hill Farm Bread" with it, which is likely enough, but had rice instead of potatoes. This is a great meal, and I recommend it highly.
POACHED CHICKEN SUPREME
4 to 6 pounds of chicken pieces, bone in
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 onion stuck with 6 cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 carrot cut in half the long way
3 pieces celery, each about 6" long
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Place all in large stock pot; bring to a boil and simmer until the chicken is nearly done, probably about 45 minutes. Strain off 4 cups of the broth and return the pot to the heat.
2 cups rice
4 cups chicken broth
Combine in a pan, and cook 20 minutes, until done. You can add more salt if desired.
Strain off another 2 cups broth, and return the chicken pot to low heat.
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
dash cayenne powder
1/4 cup lemon juice
Melt butter in saucepan; whisk in flour. Heat until smooth and bubbling. Whisk in strained chicken broth, then heavy cream and sour cream. Cook about 10 minutes. Add nutmeg and cayenne powder. Whisk lemon juice in just before serving. Remove the chicken to a serving platter, and serve with the rice and sauce. Note that this will leave you about 2 cups of chicken stock for soup or other recipes.
Note that Mr. Franey called for "2 allspice" instead of the teaspoon of allspice, and he didn't use the lemon juice in his chicken broth. He also used 1 small trussed whole chicken, and only 5 cups water. The heavy cream was his ingredient; I added the sour cream for extra "tang". I think he designs his recipes for 2 to 3 people; I just multiply them.
When Mark was about 3, he wanted to know why Abraham Lincoln was not still president. We replied that he was dead. " What did he die of?"
"He was shot."
" Who shot him?"
"John Wilkes Booth, an actor."
"And what happened to John Wilkes Booth?"
"The army hunted him down and shot him."
"Good. He deserved it. What's an actor?"
This question led to a long explanation which ended with the statement that the Wiggles are actors. Of course, my little genius then wanted to know which Wiggle John Wilkes Booth had been. I replied that he wasn't any of the wiggles that we saw on TV. "So, maybe he was the orange Wiggle, Mommy?"
To this day, in our house, the orange Wiggle shot poor Abe Lincoln.