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A Heads-Up About My Inauguration

Yesterday was Inauguration Day in the United States.  Beyoncé rocked the socks off the national anthem, a poet read a poem about the meaning of life, and Congress got frostbite because the whole thing took place outside.

Which made me wonder: why do we inaugurate presidents outside in the dead of winter?  Aren’t we just asking for the entire government to get pneumonia?  It doesn’t make any sense.

So I did a little sleuthing around, and you will not believe what I discovered:

The inauguration used to happen inside the Capitol building, but–

FACT:  IN 1817, THERE WAS A FEUD BETWEEN THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OVER WHAT CHAIRS TO SIT ON.

The Senators wanted to bring their fancy red chairs with them into the House of Representatives.

The Representatives thought the Senators were being obnoxious.

The fight got so ugly that President Monroe moved the ceremony outside and everybody stood.  The government froze its collective butt off.  Do you know why?

FACT:  THIS WAS IN THE ERA BEFORE PANTS.

I’m not kidding.  It wasn’t until 8 years later–when John Quincy Adams was inaugurated in 1825–that dudes wore pants.  Before that they wore  “knee-breeches,” which I predict will come back into style once everybody reads this.  Which brings me to my next point–

FACT:  WHEN I AM PRESIDENT, I WILL MOVE THE INAUGURATION BACK INSIDE.

Pants and knee breeches will be optional.  We’ll sit on canvas camping chairs, and everybody will get party favors and champagne and the chance to win a raffle.  Also, Beyoncé will do a whole set, including the song “Halo.”

To prepare for that glorious day, I’ve been cooking from the official inaugural menu.

butternut squash pureeThis is basically what the government big-wigs had for lunch yesterday, except they also had lobster and bison and apple pie.  And their plates had fancy patterns on them.

potato cake

I started with the official recipes for butternut squash purée, red potato horseradish cakes, and beets with green beans.

Scott was obsessed with the potato cakes.   They’re like little pillows of creamy mashed potatoes, but with a slightly crunchy crust because you put them under the broiler for a few minutes.  The horseradish isn’t overwhelming–it just gives them a nice savory kick.

I was obsessed with the butternut squash purée.   The maple syrup in it isn’t cloyingly sweet; it’s just addictive.

The green beans and beets were okay.  Not great.  When I am president, they will be replaced with a gooey chocolate cake, or whatever Vice President Beyoncé wants.

~~~

Red Potato Horseradish Cakes {Download & Print Recipe}
Adapted from a recipe published by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies

Ingredients: {makes about 10 cakes}

1 1/2 lbs. red potatoes

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish

1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp. butter, divided

1/2 c. cream

1/4 c. chives or scallions

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Rinse the potatoes.  Leave the skin on and cut them into 1″ chunks.  Put them in a pot with just enough water to cover them.  Add the kosker salt and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender and you can easily pierce them with a fork.  Pour them into a collander to drain off the water, and let them sit for five minutes so they dry out a much as possible.

Preheat the broiler.  Put the potatoes, horseradish, 2 Tbsp. of the butter, cream and chives/scallions into a large bowl or the pot you used to boil them, and smash it all together with a large spoon or fork.  You want to mix it all up but leave the potatoes a little chunky.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.

Take a scoop of the potato mixture into your hands–about as much as you’d get with an ice cream scoop–and form it into the shape of a cake.  You want it to feel like a small to medium-sized fat hamburger patty.  Place the potato cake on the broiler pan or on a disposable tin pan, and repeat with the remaining potato mixture.  Leave about 2 inches between the cakes.  You should get about 10 of them.

Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into small pieces and place on top of the cakes, dividing the butter evenly between them.

Place the cakes under the broiler for 5 minutes or so, until crisped and golden brown.  Serve.

~~~

Butternut Squash Purée {Download & Print Recipe}
A recipe published by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, told in my own words

Ingredients: {makes 4 small servings, which is to say I ate all of them for lunch}

2 lbs. of butternut squash

1 Tbsp. butter

1 pinch kosher salt

1 pinch pepper

1 1/2 tsp. real maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

If you have a whole squash, cut it in half, remove the seeds and place it scooped-side down on a baking sheet.  Roast until it’s tender when you pierce it with a fork, about 25 minutes.  When it’s cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the skin and transfer it to a blender or food processor.

–OR–

If your squash is already cut into chunks, toss the chunks with 1-2 tsp. olive oil until just coated all over, and turn the chunks onto a baking sheet.  Roast until they’re tender when you pierce with a fork, about 25 minutes.  It’s okay if the chunks get a little browned in places.  Transfer the squash to a blender or food processor.

–THEN–

Add the remaining ingredients to the blender/food processor and purée until smooth.  (The butter will melt.)  Taste and season with more salt, pepper or maple syrup if desired.  Reheat in a saucepan if you like, and serve.

~~~

Thunder and Seymour demonstrate how Congress works by refusing to cooperate on the Frisbee issue

Thunder and Seymour demonstrate how Congress works by refusing to cooperate on the Frisbee issue.

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46 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amy #

    I wholly support your changes and would proudly vote for Eggton for president! Although I nominate Thunder for VP.

    Those potato cake thingies sound amazing….

    January 22, 2013
    • Amy, if Thunder were VP the entire government would sleep until 10 a.m. and then munch on apple slices until noon. Perhaps not that different from the Biden regime, but still. 🙂

      January 25, 2013
  2. Kate #

    The inauguration also used to be in March! The 20th amendment moved it to January in 1933.

    January 22, 2013
    • Oh my gosh, I’m getting history lessons ALL OVER THE PLACE, Kate!

      January 22, 2013
  3. I love this! Especially the part about Beyonce singing Halo. I was on the Mall for yesterday’s inauguration, and while it was definitely chilly, it was still much better than in 2009.

    January 22, 2013
    • Oh what fun! I read on the official fact sheet that Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985 was the coldest ever recorded–at noon the temperature read 7 degrees. Ugh! I did New Year’s Eve on the Mall in 1999, and I did New Years Eve in Times Square before that, and I think I’m still getting over being THAT cold for THAT long. 🙂

      January 22, 2013
  4. she lip synched – oh the humanity!!!!

    January 22, 2013
    • Shelley, I JUST found out about this. I knew that Yo Yo Ma had his cello piece pre-recorded last time, so I don’t know why I was so surprised. But man, the story with her ripping out her ear piece was so cool, and now to find out it was all fake? I feel as disappointed as I did when it turned out that Milli Vanilli lip-synched back in the day.

      January 22, 2013
  5. Here’s a little more inauguration trivia for you. In 1841, on a cold, wet day, President William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural address in history (2 hours). He didn’t wear a coat or a hat, and he road a horse to the affair. Basically he was trying to drown himself. Three weeks later he caught cold and died of pneumonia. At the time they blamed it on his crazy no coat in the rain business at the inauguration. So there you go. Give a speech in the rain, die having served the shortest time of any president. That’ll learn ye.

    January 22, 2013
    • Holy crap. That’s nuts! I can’t believe the country back then elected a dude who was clearly (a) not the sharpest knife in the drawer; or (b) trying desperately to avoid being president. I’m really surprised that the Inaugural Committee didn’t move the event to, like, mid-August after that.

      January 22, 2013
  6. WOW. I find that genuinely fascinating! We’re still paying for somebody’s hissy fit two hundred years later (I guess by “we,” I mean “they.” I’m not the one standing outside). Thanks for sharing that.

    January 22, 2013
    • Isn’t that bizarre? Those must have been some amaaaaazing chairs in the Senate. Maybe they had little seat warmers in them or something. 🙂

      January 25, 2013
  7. I want Pink to perform at mine. But I’m not going to wait that long to take a crack at these recipes.

    January 22, 2013
    • I keep hoping that someday I will have the guts to show up at the hair salon with a photo of Pink and be like “CUT IT LIKE THIS.”

      It has yet to happen.

      January 22, 2013
  8. I love this blog. You have my vote.

    January 22, 2013
    • Oh my gosh I just had so much fun going back through your posts and reading them.

      January 22, 2013
  9. Now that we know that Beyonce was lip-synching, I hope that will kill her candidacy…I nominate Scott, since he can sing AND save the planet.

    January 22, 2013
    • Can you imagine? Scott would walk around with all his AVP buddies following him like back-up singers. It’d be amazing.

      January 25, 2013
  10. listen: someday when you are elected President, you may want to consider me for your Official White House Event Planner. Mostly because i’ll just fly in and start planning things for you even if you haven’t hired me (it would be fun!), but also because i am the LAST person to force anyone to wear pants.
    I seriously just found out breaking news on this blog; i had NO idea Beyonce lip-synced. what was all the ear monitor-ripping drama mid-song? *sigh* i still haven’t finished accepting the Yo Yo Ma finger-syncing from four years ago.

    January 22, 2013
    • I would like both of you to cater my (insert big event here). Let’s build off the menu Katherine has presented above, and work in some serious dessert action. Beyoncé will not be invited. Kanye and 50 Cent will do a duet. Let’s make this happen.

      January 24, 2013
  11. Your dinner sounds and looks divine. I don’t trust Bee-yon-say at all, not surprised she lied, I don’t think she was really preggers either.

    January 22, 2013
    • Ha! Ok, so I found out more about this: apparently it wasn’t her call. The “inauguration organizers,” which I think is the Joint Congressional Committee that published the recipes, made the decision to use the back-up tape just minutes before she was going to sing. The Navy band conductor and Beyonce had no choice. It’s weird, because they usually only use the back-up tape if it gets extremely cold.

      But yes–I agree with you on the pregnant thing. I bet Blue Ivy came from somewhere other than Beyonce.

      January 25, 2013
  12. a #

    I am soooo making these potatoes! They will be delicious, I just know it!

    And if ever we needed proof that politicians have been idiots since the beginning of time, I think you just delivered it…

    January 22, 2013
    • Can you believe that? Apparently the majority leader in the Senate might have been pissed off that Monroe didn’t pick him for Secretary of State or something, and that might have contributed to the fight over the chairs. Whatever. It’s not an excuse for elected representatives to act like 5-year-olds!

      January 25, 2013
  13. jenny_o #

    I swear you could make dust entertaining, and have a picture of your pups to perfectly illustrate it. And that is a very good thing!

    January 22, 2013
    • You are too generous. With my luck, the dust in the screen thingy of my clothes dryer would catch on fire and THAT’s the dust story I’d have to tell!

      January 23, 2013
  14. Beyonce has clearly proved her unworthiness. I’m with Amy—Thunder for running mate, Seymour for Secretary of Frisbee Annihilation.

    January 23, 2013
    • Seymour would be on it like white on rice. Thunder, however, would spend most of her time in the Administration snoozing and eating treats. Or worse: eating the stuffing out of the couches in the oval office.

      January 25, 2013
  15. You are hilarious. And you just made me very hungry at 10:11am. I’m going to make Pad Thai in honour of the fact that something important must be happening somewhere in Thailand today, right?

    January 23, 2013
    • Katia, I’ve never made pad thai! Is it hard?

      I also want to make pho, but I’m not sure we have a Vietnamese grocery store here.

      January 25, 2013
      • I don’t think that what I’m making is a proper Pad Thai, but yes, it’s quite simple. I use spaghetti (but the original recipe probably calls for noodles). For the sauce mix 2 tbsp of brown sugar, 4 tbsp od soya sauce, 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1/4 cup oil (I use olive but vegetable is probably just as good) and 1 tbsp peanut butter. You can add some salt, I don’t, but not everyone likes it sweet. You cook the pasta and mix in sauce when pasta is ready. I add the pasta into the sauce bowl. You stir fry or just fry 2 grated carrots, 2 or 3 green onions – chopped, 3 chopped garlic cloves, some bean sprouts, and I use one of these bagged coleslaw salad mixes (minus the dressing of course). To this you add a tbsp of soya sauce and a tsp of brown sugar. You can play with the amounts. The first time I made it I didn’t like it all. I made it for my son and did not expect it to taste quite that sweet, but then I tweaked it and it comes out differently everytime I make it. I don’t think you need a Thai or Vietnamese store, it’s all quite basic, but then again this is just my recipe, it’s very possible that real pad thai is something quite different. Good luck!

        January 26, 2013
  16. oh I love a good bit of trivia… thanks for the education about you crazy americans 🙂
    … and I love maple syrup – I am addicted to brussels sprouts with maple syrup at the minute, now I am going to try this butternut recipe… thanks for sharing!

    January 23, 2013
    • Oh wow–I am a huge fan of brussels sprouts. Huge. I haven’t tried them with maple syrup yet. Do you just toss them in it and saute on the stove-top or do you roast them in the oven? Do tell.

      January 25, 2013
  17. Charming write up.

    January 23, 2013
  18. And thank heaven you already have presidential dogs! So, we’re electing people who don’t have the sense to come in out of the cold. Great. And I want Tom Waits to sing at the inauguration.

    January 24, 2013
    • Oh boy did I go through a Tom Waits phase. I haven’t listened to him in forever, but I’m glad you mentioned it because now I will.

      January 25, 2013
  19. Sandra R #

    You are amazing! How did you come up with the idea of cooking the Inaugural dinner, or at least the obtainable bits?? What an amazing idea! And the history lesson! Who knew? Of course, our current Senate and Congress would probably be hitting each other with chairs if they had a similar disagreement.

    January 24, 2013
    • Sandra, I’m so glad you asked! I was inspired to cook from the Inaugural menu by my mom. She had a couple friends over to watch the ceremony, and they each brought a dish from the menu. She even tackled the bison! AND one of them made the apple pie that was on the dessert menu. She told me about it on the phone the night before the inauguration and I thought it was such a cool idea that I ran out to the store and made the recipes myself. How much fun is that?!

      January 25, 2013
  20. Dude you should totally be president since you’re already making better decisions than some of those old ones. And quite frankly the fact that you know they didn’t wear pants till whenever it was you said it was makes you a bazillion times smarter and more qualified than oodles of politicians. I think me and Movita should be your campaign managers. But I think we should forgo a caterer and you should do all the cooking for it since you rock hard. Plus I mean once your president you really have nothing better to do so you’ll have lots of free time to cook right.

    January 24, 2013
  21. Hi honorable future president… Am I giving due respect ? 🙂 … Wonderful write up. I love this.

    January 25, 2013
  22. I would vote for you for Prime Minister of Canada!
    These potato-horseradish cakes are getting me hungry…

    January 26, 2013
  23. New to your blog and hooked. I need to go get a pair of knee-breeches for my husband now! I have to say, those potato cakes sound fantastic…almost like the innards of twice baked potatoes but with a kick. I’m thinking I will add them to my weekly menu soon!! familyfoodweek.wordpress.com

    January 26, 2013
  24. This is hilarious. Very well written. Thank you for giving me a good laugh today.

    January 30, 2013

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