I can only imagine the intense decorating and baking that goes on for Christmas across the country. But, what house is more popular than the White House? Can you even fathom the pressure that must go on within the walls of the White House… over Christmas decor? I mean, really?! My kids harp at me if we are not faster than the neighbors or do not have enough lights around the house. I am sure the First Lady has a precedent to set.
Christmas With the First Ladies
Coleen Christian Burke captivates a bit of that behind-the-scenes look in her book, Christmas With the First Ladies. The Presidents’ wives from Jackie Onassis Kennedy all the way through Michelle Obama are featured in the book. As you thumb through, each chapter features a different First Lady and the story behind their Christmas traditions. Even though each of these incredible women were in America’s spotlight as the President’s wife, each played a role as wife and/or mother first. Many of their family traditions simply followed them into the White House.
Christmas With the First Ladies is a look at the holiday magic that happens at the White House, capturing the Christmas decorating history and techniques from Jackie Kennedy through Michelle Obama. Each first lady’s design aesthetic is profiled, such as Lady Bird Johnson’s themes of home and family to help heal the nation after John F. Kennedy’s death; Nancy Reagan’s interest in renewing a child-like sense of wonder; and Laura Bush’s “Red, White, and Blue” Christmas for a nation banding together.
As I browsed through the book I was overwhelmed with how beautiful and elegant everything looked. A bit different from the way things are done in my home with kids all over. I asked my oldest daughter to take a look and decide which recipe she would most like to try. Since she is the baker in the house, I figured she would do much better than I. She decided that Nancy Reagan’s Monkey Bread looked delicious and we decided she would do some Christmas baking for the family. I must admit, it turned out great and I was proud of the patience she showed while waiting for the dough to rise. Plus, she even added her own little twist to a few by sprinkling cinnamon into them prior to baking.
Nancy Reagan’s Monkey Bread Recipe
- ¾ oz packaged dry yeast
- 1 – 1 ¼ cup milk, room temperature
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp salt
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 6 oz butter, room temperature
- ½ lb melted butter
- Mix yeast with 1 tbsp milk until fully dissolved. Add 2 eggs and beat.
- Mix in dry ingredients. Add remaining milk a little at a time. Mix thoroughly.
- Cut-in butter until well blended.
- Knead dough and let it rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours (or until doubled in size). Knead again and let it rise another 45 minutes.
- Once dough has risen, roll onto a floured board and shape into a log. Cut into 28 equal pieces.
- Shape each piece into a ball and roll in melted butter.
- Place 7 balls into each floured, melted mold or muffin tin.
- Place remaining balls on top, spacing evenly. Let dough rise.
- Brush tops with egg.
- Bake in preheated oven at 375° for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm and watch the family enjoy!
You can find the book and learn more about Christmas with the First Ladies on Insight Editions.
Which First Lady would you most want to learn more about?