A Coolidge (Grace, that is) dessert recipe

Over at the delightful The Aesthete Cooks blog, I spotted a very nice entry featuring a recipe for Coffee Soufflé submitted by First Lady Grace Coolidge for a 1924 cookbook. The author notes that Grace Coolidge considered herself fairly helpless in the kitchen, which prompts me to add an anecdote told by her biographer Ishbel Ross in Grace Coolidge and her Era:

Although much has been written about the domestic skills of Mrs. Coolidge, her most devastating critic was Calvin. In fact, her pies and biscuits figured among his stock jokes in the early days of their marriage. He was apt to drop one of her biscuits on the floor and stamp his foot to emphasize the thud. His wry comments before guests on pie crust that resembled cement failed to douse his wife’s bright spirits.

“Don’t you think the road commissioner would be willing to pay my wife something for her pie crust recipe?” he asked two of her friends from Clarke School after he had urged her to serve them some of her pie. “Only those who have been placed in a similar position can imagine my feelings as I sat and watched them eat that dreadful pie, my husband also looking on with an inward glee of which I alone was aware,” Mrs. Coolidge later recalled. “At last the final morsel was consumed amid loyal exclamations of approval.”

While the later president comes across as somewhat mean-spirited in this episode, Ross points out that in the Coolidge family, the kidding went both ways, and that no one more readily made fun of Calvin, or went so far in mimicking him,  than did his wife.

Grace Goodhue Coolidge in 1928

2 thoughts on “A Coolidge (Grace, that is) dessert recipe

  1. Stumbled across your blog while searching for info on my late grandmother, Margaret Carr, who was a White House cook for presidents Harding and Coolidge. She described President Coolidge as a very easy man to please who preferred simple, comfort food to gourmet. Margaret was from Ireland and President Coolidge especially loved her corned beef with cabbage and beef stew. His favorite desert was apple pie. Margaret left the White House in 1927 to marry her husband, Jeremiah Shea. They had met that summer at White Court, my grandmother having traveled up to cook for the Coolidges aboard the presidential yacht. At the time, my grandfather was chauffeuring for Donald Smith and Frank Stearns. After a quick courtship, they married, moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts and opened up The White Court Lunch on Bunker Hill St where the best seller on her menu was President Coolidge’s beloved apple pie.

    • Kathy, thank you so much for your comment, glad you stumbled in on this humble blog! What a wonderful connection you have there, and I’m particularly pleased to see that someone on the White House staff remembered Coolidge with fondness – you know there have been others who criticized him for being stingy, for micro-managing the kitchen and, in general, for being unpredictable and playing pranks on people. It’s comments like yours that keep me in the blogging business…plus you gave me an idea for posting on Coolidge and food. We need to keep in touch, I hope you’ll revisit! Best, ~Kai

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