02 October 2010

Weekend Cooking: Review: Capitol Hill Cooks by Linda Bauer

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Today's cookbook is a kind of win-win-win deal. Capitol Hill Cooks by Linda Bauer is a collection of recipes from members of the U.S. Congress and Senate as well as at least one recipe from every U.S. president.

The first win is that the book is simply a great addition to any collection because it spans 200 years of American cooking. Even if you decide not to make any of the historic recipes, it's fun to look through the chapter titled "Favorite Dishes of the Presidents." Several of Washington's recipes are spiked with alcohol. Dolly Madison used to serve something called fairy butter. Apparently James Buchanan wasn't known as a gourmet; the only recipe from him is piped mashed potatoes. I guess it's no surprise that Jimmy Carter would have contributed a peanut brittle recipe.

The second win is that the recipes from the modern-day section of the cookbook all look great and are tried-and-true family recipes. There are some curious and amusing matches (okay at least from my perspective; I'm warped)--for example, Representative Kanjorski from my state of Pennsylvania contributed New England clam chowder. It looks delicious and easy to make, however. In other cases, the match is just perfect: Senator Conrad from North Dakota offers sunflower wheat bread, which I plan to make this coming week. My only complaint is that the recipe index could have been better organized, but it's a minor problem.

The third win is that Linda Bauer donated 50 percent of her advance and will donate 50 percent of her royalties to an organization called Homes for Our Troops. The group is committed to "assisting severely injured servicemen and women build or adapt their homes for handicapped accessibility. The finished home is then given to the veteran." So by purchasing this fun and useful cookbook, you can give a little something back to those who have volunteered to fight for their country. Regardless of your political beliefs about the war, Home for Our Troops is a worthwhile cause and has received high scores from the American Institute of Philanthropy.

I thought I'd share this simple recipe from James Madison, president from 1809 to 1817. I haven't tried these cookies, but I see no reason why they wouldn't be good.

Cream Jumbles
5 dozen
  • 1 pound butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
Cream the butter and sugar together completely. Beat in eggs. Add cream and flour alternately, add vanilla if desired. Chill dough for at least 1 hour. Roll thin; cut into shapes and bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes.

Published by Rowman & Littlefield / Taylor Trade, September 2010
ISBN-13: 9781589795501
YTD: 85
Rating: B
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Anonymous,  10/2/10, 6:42 AM  

Sounds like a great book full of American recipes! And you bet they're very different from European ones.

You people ate things I haven't heard of or never combined in one meal. So it sounds like a great book for an overview of American cooking during the centuries.

The cookies look very simple to make. My only worry would be to burn them, which I'm quite good at. But it's the sort of recipe that you can always make (basic ingredients are always in the cupboard) so if there are no cookies in the house there is no excuse not to have some ready within half an hour.

Sandy Nawrot 10/2/10, 7:31 AM  

This is simply fascinating. The idea of eating a favorite food from a president that has been dead for 200 years is so personal and intimate. I love it. I love everything about this, especially the contribution of profits to a good cause.

Margaret @ BooksPlease 10/2/10, 7:47 AM  

What a fascinating book. I wonder if anyone has written one about UK MPs & Prime Ministers' recipes?

Anonymous,  10/2/10, 8:09 AM  

Since I collect cookbooks and this one has a history slant - I am definetly going to have to pick this up. Aother interesting cookbook is The Original White House cookbook 1887 edition - they made a 1999 edition) It has recipes from state menus, tidbIts of the first ladies - all from an 1887 take. It's a great read.

Beth F 10/2/10, 8:23 AM  

Leeswammes: When I was living in the UK I picked up a cookbook from the 1800s -- fascinating look into British cooking.

Sandy -- Very cool, right?

Margaret: I would love to see a book of MP recipes or even royalty recipes from the many centuries of UK history.

Beachreader: I'll have to look for that White House cookbook. Sounds like it belongs in my collection.

Meg @ write meg! 10/2/10, 9:15 AM  

With one pound of butter in that recipe from James Madison, I don't see how we could go wrong there!

Definitely sounds like a great cookbook -- and I love that patriotic, pretty cover! I'll keep my eyes peeled. Or maybe it can go on my Christmas wishlist? (We're only months away!)

Taylor Trade 10/2/10, 9:34 AM  

Thanks for the fantastic review and helping us spread the word both about Linda's fun book and Homes for Our Troops.

caite 10/2/10, 9:35 AM  

that is a lot of butter...I am not a big cookie baker...is that flour to butter ratio unusual?

But regardless, I wish I had a couple to have with my tea.
And this cookbook looks very interesting. Would love to have a look at it.

Sarah Louise 10/2/10, 9:47 AM  

Fascinating comments, esp. since a week ago I was sitting listening to Allegra Goodman, author of the new novel, The Cookbook Collector. She teamed up with a librarian at Harvard's Schlesinger Library (formerly Radcliffe's library).

The book sounded awesome and would probably resonate with yins, since it features a cookbook collector.


p.s. yin is a Scottish word for "one" and yins (or yinz) is often used in Pittsburgh instead of y'all.

Beth F 10/2/10, 9:57 AM  

Caite: That ratio is just about right for a standard butter cookie.

JoAnn 10/2/10, 10:07 AM  

Definitely sounds like a winner all the way around!

During the last presidential election, there were recipes from both candidates posted on a blog -maybe A Year of Crockpotting? We tried Obama's chili and McCain's ribs... neither a big winner in this household. :-(

Julie P. 10/2/10, 10:33 AM  

This isn't the same cookbook that I have. I have a different one with presidents' recipes. I'll be back tomorrow with a link.

Robin M 10/2/10, 11:48 AM  

What a cool cookbook and it would be great to use for educational purposes as we learn about the presidents.

Margot 10/2/10, 12:08 PM  

I was thinking the same thing as Robin. This book would be an interesting resource as children study history. You know - this is James Madison;s favorite cooky, now who was James Madison, etc.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 10/2/10, 2:38 PM  

What an interesting collection - and a great win for Homes for Our Troops!

The match-ups could have been even more unusual if your Rep. had submitted a recipe for Baked Alaska.

Anonymous,  10/2/10, 3:03 PM  

Wow! How neat! A recipe favorite of President James Madison!!!

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 10/2/10, 3:31 PM  

History and cooking at the same time. I'd be curious to see how our cooking has changed over the years.

Marg 10/2/10, 7:52 PM  

Whoops, can you edit my link title. Thanks.

bermudaonion 10/2/10, 8:53 PM  

The sunflower wheat bread sounds fantastic - let us know how it turns out, please!

Anonymous,  10/3/10, 1:32 AM  

Of course the cookies would be good...they're made with cream and butter!

Steve 10/3/10, 3:24 PM  

As the husband of the author, you may be interested to know that I got to eat my way through last spring, and this summer. Great fun!

Also, as an Army veteran, I am very impressed with what Homes for our Troops is doing for disabled service people from Iraq and Afghanistan. No one deserves your participation more than they do.

auntie-c 10/3/10, 5:51 PM  

Looks like a very interesting book to check out.

Veens 10/4/10, 5:22 AM  

Someday I am going to get an oven, until then all I can do is bookmark these goodies! Thanks Beth, fantastic review

Col (Col Reads) 10/4/10, 6:52 AM  

During the Clinton administration, Diane Milliken put together Capitol Cuisine: A Bi-Partisan Cookbook, with recipes from the Hill. I still make Porter Goss' Key Lime Pie from it. I'll definitely check this out.

Beth F 10/4/10, 6:57 AM  

Col Reads: Thanks for tipping me off to another good Washington cookbook.

Andi 10/4/10, 9:09 AM  

Looks great! I would have a blast looking for those odd or not-so-obvious matches. The Madison recipe looks perfectly delicious!

Belle 10/4/10, 4:12 PM  

This sounds like a delicious read! I'm very intrigued by "fairy butter" - it sounds magical.

Unknown 10/4/10, 5:27 PM  

It does sound like a triple win book. Love that the author is donating some of the money to such a worthy cause. I think I would like the historical aspect of it too.

This recipe intrigues me. All that butter and some cream? hmm...I think at least one of us needs to try it and report back as to what it tastes like.

Michelle 10/4/10, 5:38 PM  

This looks like a fun read as much as a great resource!

Esme 10/5/10, 12:03 AM  

I must really be getting senile-I wanted to stop by and post this weekend and am now remembering on Monday eve.

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