Each year on George Washington's birthday, Jody Harnish selects recipes from two cookbooks that focus on favorite meals of U.S. presidents. The history buff cooks up the dishes and delivers them as lunch for the people who work at the military recruiting office on Everett Mall Way.
On Friday, the meal includes Washington's favorite soup -- peanut. Actually, Harnish said, the soup recipe is from former first lady Rosalynn Carter, whose husband Jimmy was a peanut farmer.
The menu includes a ham dish said to be a favorite of President Martin Van Buren. A minted chicken loved by President Calvin Coolidge. And there is a grape salad attributed to President Andrew Jackson's wife, Rachel.
"It has to marinate overnight," Harnish said. "Because it uses pickles and mustard, and if you serve it too soon, it isn't so good. One thing I won't fix is FDR's moose meat with grape jelly. Yuck."
The desserts include President Gerald Ford's favorite strawberry mousse and first lady Jackie Kennedy's chocolate souffle.
"I had to stock up on cream for this year's meal," said Harnish, 55, of south Everett.
Marine Corps Sgt. Cesar Torres said he and the other recruiters look forward to Harnish's visits.
"She's an extremely caring person," Torres said. "She always tells us how thankful she is for our service."
Harnish, who grew up in a military family, said she felt an obligation to do something for people in the military even when she was a child during the Vietnam War.
"People talk about caring for people in the military, but do they really do anything?" she said. "My attitude is, 'If not me, then who? If not now, then when?'"
Harnish said the reward is a hug from the young men who come back for third helpings of her lunches.
"They love it and I love those guys so much."
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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