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Vintage Cookbooks: Flavors from Florida Republicans

Thursday, January 04, 2001

By Alice Demetrius Stock

At the voting booth I'm registered Independent, but since Republican George W. Bush will be inaugurated 43rd president of the United States later this month and since so much of the controversy surrounding this year's election took place in Florida, it seems a perfect time for "A Treasury of Great Republican Recipes," compiled and edited by The Women's Republican Club of Greater Naples, Fla.

The collection was a 1970 Republican fund raiser when Richard Nixon was president. Republicans from various states contributed recipes and the first chapter, Recipes from Very Important Republicans, includes Mrs. Richard M. Nixon's marinade for chicken (Juice of 2 lemons, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, 1 tablespoon each paprika and oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Marinate 3 to 4 hours. Baste while baking at 325 degrees or while barbecuing); Dwight D. Eisenhower's beef stew and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower's sugar cookies (Make a dough of 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 1/2 cups flour. Chill dough one hour before rolling and cutting into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees 10 to 12 minutes).

Some of the recipes, such as Bananas Caribbean, a baked dessert using angostura bitters and crushed macaroons, seem exotic for 1970, but most of the recipes are, as the preface states: "the everyday kind used by average homemakers in preparing good food to please husbands, children and friends."

Most of them were, actually, recipes representing the preceding decade of the 1960s -- an era of fast food (McDonald's); quick food (canned mushroom soup as a base for beef stroganoff); "space age" food (Tang -- astronaut's orange juice) and the basics: steak, potatoes and iceberg lettuce salads with Russian dressing.

First mate's chowder, for example, a recipe from Elizabeth Ryer of Duxbury, Mass., is made using 1 can condensed green pea soup, 1 can condensed clam chowder, 1 can crab meat and 2 cans of water.

Julia Child on TV and Rene Verdon, French chef in the Kennedy White House, made cooking schools and French food popular in the 1960s. Even "French food" from a can. In response, Rep. Thomas J. Meskill (R-Conn.) contributed this 1960s streamlined version of coq au vin (chicken in wine): Broil or pan fry 2 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs until brown. Place in a casserole. Combine 1 can cream of mushroom soup with 1 can of white wine and pour over the chicken. Bake covered at 350 degrees for an hour or until done.

Centuries from now, when the world as we know it has evolved into something unrecognizable to us, modernistic food historians, piecing together our culinary past from moldy bits of ... paper (for gosh sake), might come to the faulty conclusion that a race of people called Republicans ate elephant meat until both elephants and Republicans became extinct.

Truth is, of course, the favorite foods of Republicans are appreciated and enjoyed just as much by Democrats or by Independents. I don't suppose we'll ever agree so easily about our politics.

Florida Orange Bread Pudding

The addition of orange juice is a tasty twist to this classic dairy dish. It gets my vote.

4 slices stale bread, pulled into pieces (we used Pepperidge Farm toasting white)
2 eggs, beaten
Scant 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup whole milk
1 cup Florida (or any kind) orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (optional)

Lay the bread in a buttered baking dish.

Whisk the sugar, salt and milk into the beaten eggs.

Stir the orange juice and rind into the mixture.

Pour the mixture over the bread and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until set in the middle.

Top with milk or cream. Serves 4 to 6.

Contributed by Rep. J. Herbert Burke (R-Fla.) for "A Treasury of Great Republican Recipes," 1970.

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