On our recent trip to DC we visited not only Gettysburg but also Mount Vernon, the estate and plantation that belonged to the first American President George Washington, now his burial site and a world famous museum. The place is no doubt very historical and a must-see. When Dave is into historical figures, I am more of low key and interested in everyday life of people in different times. Mount Vernon satisfied us both. Dave saw where George Washington lived and buried, and I saw how people lived back then and how they ran their household.
Mount Vernon is really made to show you the 18th century America lifestyle. To tell you the truth, I had no idea George Washington considered himself a farmer and was into biology and agriculture. It is amazing but when you think about it there is a reason he was: the new land, its climate and agricultural potential was still unknown to newcomers, and it took lots of time, work and dedication to build everything from scratch. George Washington did a good job - life at Mount Vernon seems to have been pretty comfortable, at least for him and his family.
|Welcome to Mount Vernon!|
We walked around and checked out the plantation buildings (they still have animals and people dressed up like back in 18th century, very cool), the manor house, stables, storehouse, smokehouse etc and, of course George and Martha Washington tomb.
|George Washington Tomb|
The manor house is set on a hill overlooking the Potomac river and the view is spectacular. I would not mind living there and starting my day with a cup of tea on the deck. With Wi-Fi of course:) The house inside is very European with 2 nice dining rooms - one for family and one for guests, a room where food arrives from the kitchen and bedrooms.
The kitchen is a stand alone building for safety reasons (fires were not uncommon). Unfortunately, they don’t allow taking pictures inside the house (and it is group visits only) but you can do it in the kitchen, and of course I used this opportunity. They have lots of staff working at Mount Vernon, and when we walked in the kitchen Dave told the guide I had a cooking blog, she got so excited and gave me a nice guided tour:) Very sweet!
The kitchen is pretty typical for the 18th century but what really caught me was an ice cream making machine! Wow! George Washington was one of those who introduced ice cream to America and was a big ice cream lover:) Now try and guess flavors. Vanilla? Chocolate? No, it was garlic, cheese and oysters! Interesting, that they also brought ice from Boston - just to make some ice cream. Not bad for the 18th century and a brand new country:)
|The thing on the left is an ice cream machine|
To end our great visit to Mount Vernon we decided to check out the museum store, and I walked out with a copy of The Mount Vernon Cookbook. It doesn’t provide only recipes but great photos of the estate as well and also tells about cooking habits at Mount Vernon. The recipes are nothing like in the Civil War Food cookbook but pretty fancy. Actually, George and Martha Washington were known for their hospitality and love for fine food. The recipes were collected by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the non-profit organization that bought the historical home in 1858 and has been operating it ever since (one more prove that women rock!). Many of the recipes featured in the book have been passed down through several generations and use ingredients available in the 18th century blended with modern cooking methods.
|My Mount Vernon souvenir|
The day I was thinking cooking something from this book Dave was in the mood for pasta so I decided to make Richard’s fettuccine. I fact it is very similar to spaghetti carbonara and fettuccine alfredo but who would complain if it tastes good? Plus, eating not just pasta but history flavored pasta does make a difference.
Ingredients (serve 4):
- 1 box fettuccine noodles
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (ideally freshly grated real Parmigiano-Reggiano but if can’t find it or on a budget just use American Parmesan)
- 1/2 lb (250g) bacon
- salt and pepper
- Cook bacon until crisp and crumble it.
- Cook fettuccine until it is al dente.
- Drain pasta and quickly return to the hot bowl, toss with butter, pour in beaten eggs.
- Add salt and pepper and grated cheese.
- Fold in crumbled bacon.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
It is a very easy and fast to make dish perfect for busy weekdays. Dave loved it. Now when he asking to make it he just says: “Can we have George Washington food tonight?”
|Little George Washington that joined us on our adventures:)|