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Thomas Jefferson Inauguration ~ Macaroni & Cheese

Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated today in 1801, the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D. C. There were quite a few other interesting firsts about his election and inauguration. He was the first sitting vice president to run against his own president (John Adams). Jefferson and Adams didn’t speak much after this. Interestingly, they both died July 4, 1826, just a few minutes apart.

This election was the first (and only) time the Electoral College was evenly split. Jefferson and Aaron Burr receive d an equal amount of votes. The House of Representatives cast the deciding vote, making Jefferson president and Aaron Burr vice president. At the time, the candidate with the most votes was president and the candidate with the second amount of votes became vice president.

Story has it that Jefferson went to a tavern for a meal after his inauguration. The place was packed, and none of the patrons saw fit to give the new president their table. He had to wait in line! Oh, my.

Thomas Jefferson is well known as being the main author of the Declaration of Independence. He was also an inventor (the lazy susan and the swivel chair, for instance), an innovative gardener, ambassador, architect, and connoisseur of great food and wine. He wasn’t a true vegan, but said he “ate meat only as a condiment to vegetables.”

His home, Monticello, has been lovingly maintained. Treat yourself to the website where you can learn so much more about the man, tour the gardens, and much more.

Thomas Jefferson introduced not only new plants and gardening techniques to America, but a host of European food preparations. He brought the first pasta machine to the United States from France. Accounts of meals with the president often mention “a pie called macaroni.” This recipe for macaroni and cheese is part Emeril Lagasse’s and part my own dear departed Mom’s.

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
6 Tablespoons flour
3 Cups whole milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 Cups grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 2 quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.

Bring a big pot of water salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni until al dente (about 10 minutes). Drain the pasta and rinse under cold water. Drain it again, well.

Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirr constantly for about 3 minutes (do NOT let the flour get brown). Slowly whisk in the milk, and keep whisking for about 4 minutes until the sauce gets thick and creamy. Remove from the heat. Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and 2-1/2 cups of the grated cheese. Stir well until the cheese melts. Combine the sauce with the macaroni, and pour into the baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese with the bread crumbs (you can add a little salt and/or pepper and/or cayenne pepper to this mixture, if you like). Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the macaroni. Bake about 25 minutes. It should be bubbly and the bread crumbs should be toasted slightly.

I don’t make this very often, and usually serve it with a big salad. A little ham is nice, too.



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