Week 26 of Dave Raymond’s American History course covers “Theology as Biography: Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington.” Teddy Roosevelt is known for his part in changing America, but he is lesser known for his part in changing White House dining and devouring Fat Rascals.
President Teddy Roosevelt ushered in a new era of food in the White House. Starting with President Grant, the presidents had been known for their extravagant tastes, with exotic foods and expensive wines. Teddy and his family liked neither foreign food nor costly wine and preferred the taste of wholesome, simple American cuisine.
Roosevelt refused to be called a gourmet and called out a newspaper that declared him one. But just because the food was simple did not mean that flavor was scarce or the servings were small; far from it. President Roosevelt was famous for being able to consume an inordinate amount of food, with one guest commenting that he watched the President in just one sitting eat a whole chicken and drink four glasses of milk besides helping himself to the other dishes on the table. He and his children especially enjoyed his wife Edith’s home cooking, like her recipe for Fat Rascals. These biscuits were eaten for breakfast, tea, or as a snack, and they are best served hot with lots of butter.
- 4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) butter
- 2 c. dried currants
- 1 1/4 c. milk
- Preheat oven to 450 F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Cut the butter into chunks and add to the flour mixture. Using a pastry knife combine the butter with the flour, until the mixture has the texture of large breadcrumbs.
- Add the dried currants and stir, then add the milk and mix to form a rough dough, trying to knead it as little as possible. If there is a lot of flour left at the bottom, add more milk a tablespoon or so at a time until the dough comes together. If the dough is too wet do the same thing with flour.
- Place dough on lightly floured surface and roll into 1” thickness. Using a 2” cookie cutter or wine glass, cut out biscuits and place, slightly touching each other, on an uncreased baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are lightly browned and the insides are cooked. Remove from oven and enjoy!