Just in time for Thanksgiving, we dug up some treasured holiday recipes from political eras past and present. Here are ten families’ rhetoric-free contributions to the holiday.
© Louisa Gouliamaki/epa/Corbis
1. Mitt Romney’s favorite carrot soup. In 2007, Romney for President launched AnnRomney.com as part of the official campaign website. Though it’s now defunct, Mrs. Romney’s site included a section titled “Ann’s Recipes,” many of which were shared around the web, thus preserving Willard's favorite soup. If that’s not your thing, you can whip up some of the Romney clan’s famous Welsh skillet cakes.
2. Walter Mondale’s turkey dressing and pumpkin bread. You might be surprised to learn that Mondale was a comfortable and regular cook, preparing meals for family gatherings and weeknight dinners to relax before and after his term as vice president. According to a 1984 Esquire article, Fritz’s turkey dressing has a bit of a twist: it calls for 18 one-day-old hot dog buns, because “regular bread simply won't do.” His pumpkin bread recipe is suspiciously like my grandmother’s (or perhaps it’s the other way around).
3. George W. and Laura Bush’s ‘dijongate’ deviled eggs.
Crawford Ranch is no stranger to holiday meals, and these deviled eggs turn up at all of them. The Bushes shared the recipe in 2004 as part of a 4th of July feature on WhiteHouse.gov. Five years later, there was a minor uproar over these eggs--which use Dijon mustard instead of the standard yellow--after Sean Hannity called Barack Obama “fancy” and “President Poupon” for putting the condiment on his burger; a few days later, the former First Couple’s egg recipe reappeared to somewhat less ridicule and, thankfully, the whole topic was dropped.
4. Herbert Hoover’s sweet potatoes. These sweet potatoes were Hoover’s favorite food; in 1915 they were served at a special Thanksgiving celebration in Brussels, alongside imported (and mysteriously quoted) “turkey,” while Hoover was there as chairman of the humanitarian Commission for Relief in Belgium. Seven years later, they were still well-loved and served often enough at the White House to end up in Eating with Uncle Sam: Recipes and Historical Bites from the National Archives.
5. Nancy Reagan’s uber-fancy pudding flambé (not pictured). If you were a guest at the White House during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, you might have had the First Lady’s impressive persimmon pudding, which is steamed for two-and-a-half hours and set aflame at the table, then served with brandy cream sauce. Bonus recipe: monkey bread, for those of you who prefer something with less fire.
6. Rick Santorum’s apple tarte tatin. There’s no prepackaged pie crust action at the Santorum house. This apple tart is a family favorite. Karen Garver Santorum says, “I usually use Granny Smith apples, but you can also use peaches or pears. I love making this dessert with my children Elizabeth, Johnny, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, and Patrick.” With that many hungry mouths, you need a big dessert—this one calls for 14 apples. That should do it.
7. Michelle Obama’s apple cobbler. The not-yet First Lady shared this unfussy cobbler back when Barack was still campaigning. It’s easy-peasy, and Michelle admits she’s been making it so long that she “usually just eyeballs” the measurements. Her cookbook, American Grown, is set to release in April 2012.
8. Jimmy Carter’s special cheese ring. Back in 1984, Esquire ran this appetizer recipe from Jimmy and Rosalynn’s personal favorites. It’s about as easy as food gets, but the cheese-mayo-onion mixture could probably use a little update. His peanut butter pie is super simple, too, but reportedly perfect as-is.
9. Bill and Hillary Clinton’s desserts. Though the former president didn’t personally develop this lemon chess pie recipe (it’s from the Arkansas governor’s mansion chef, who included it in her cookbook, Thirty Years at the Mansion), it is reportedly his favorite pie. At least it used to be; no word on whether he’s adapted it to fit his vegan diet. For her part, Hillary’s chocolate chip cookies and spice fruit bars are apparently both quite good and yield approximately 90 pieces each, so there are plenty to share.
10. Joe and Jill Biden’s Sweet-and-Spicy Pecans. Here’s an easy get-together snack from the VP and family, which one reviewer calls “quite addictive.” Joe’s a big fan of oatmeal raisin cookies, too; this recipe is from his mother-in-law.
For more inspiration, check out the Congress Cooks! recipe index and Eating with Uncle Sam: Recipes and Historical Bites from the National Archives.