Rae Katherine Eighmey loves the story-telling power of great recipes. In the years since she began cooking using hand-written cards discovered in the century-old family wooden file box, she has learned how to make old recipes work in modern kitchens.
She says that the process involves a lot of research and dirty dishes, but the rewards are incomparably delicious and informative. It often begins with questions. How do the ingredients reflect life and times? What can we learn about the history of the region or the nation? And, importantly, what do the dishes tell us about the people who cooked and ate them?
Eighmey came to her love of Abraham Lincoln as a child touring Springfield and New Salem. Then in 2006, her husband John asked the fateful question. “What do you think Abraham Lincoln enjoyed eating?” As the Thanksgiving turkey baked, she turned to their collection of Lincoln books and to begin to find the answers. Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen was published by Smithsonian Books in 2013. Her most recent book also published by Smithsonian is Stirring the Pot with Benjamin Franklin. (Photo credit: Tom Thulen)