As we celebrate the Suffrage Movement and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote, I realize that the very first first lady to vote for her husband for president was Ohioan Florence Harding in 1920.
The 19th Amendment was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, before the November election. I have been searching for some of Florence and Warren Harding’s favorite recipes, and it seems that waffles was the favorite. By every account I can find, not only did Florence like to make them, but Warren liked to make them, too. When I visited their home last year in Marion, the waffle iron was still on the stove. And the plaque in the kitchen said, “You eat the first fourteen waffles without syrup, but with lots of butter. Then you put syrup on the next nine, and the last half-dozen you eat simply swimming in syrup. Eaten that way, waffles never hurt anybody.”
But Harding also loved to eat them with creamed dried beef gravy. This is something I remember my mother making when I was a young girl. She said it was a favorite recipe during World War II. The dried beef was all rolled up in a little glass jar. You can still buy it that way, or Buddig can be found in the refrigerated meat section.
The theme of the Harding presidency was “Return to Normalcy.” Our country had survived the war and the pandemic, and wanted to get back to normal. After this pandemic, we are all feeling that, too. We can’t wait to get back to normal!
So, in celebration of women’s right to vote and a desire to return to normalcy, I decided to serve a favorite Harding meal, a hundred years later. We’re having some waffles and creamed dried beef gravy for dinner! (Mike has already tasted it and he approves!)
Creamed Dried Beef over Waffles
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk, more if needed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces dried beef, cut into pieces (can use canned beef in jar or Buddig in refrigerator section)
waffles or toast or biscuits
Melt butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour and stir until bubbly. Add milk, whisking until flour mixture is completely incorporated. Stir constantly until the sauce has thickened. Add pepper and strips of dried beef to sauce mixture, stirring until pepper is incorporated and beef is evenly coated. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Check to see if it needs additional salt. Serve over waffles or toast or biscuits.
Florence Harding’s Waffles
*Recipe from Ohio History Connection
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 pint milk
Flour to make thin batter (about 2 cups)
2 large teaspoons baking powder
Separate the eggs. Beat yolks and add sugar and salt. Add butter, milk, and flour. Stir to combine. Beat egg whites until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Stir one spoonful of whites into the mixture to lighten and then fold remainder of egg whites and baking powder. Bake in a hot waffle iron.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.