Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"The New American Sampler Cookbook" - Beef Stew and Apple Crisp from two former members of Congress - Election Day 2016

Date I made these recipes – November 8, 2016 – Election Day, USA!

The NEW American Sampler Cookbook, edited by Linda Bauer (recipes submitted by members of Congress)
Published by The Kent State University Press
ISBN: 0-87338-435-0; © 1991
Purchased at Kona Bay Books, Kona (Big Island) Hawaii – May 2016
Recipes:  Beef Stew submitted by Representative Beryl Anthony (D), Arkansas – p. 59 ; and Apple Crisp submitted by actor-turned-Representative Fred Grandy (R), Iowa – p. 248.  Fred played "Gopher" in the popular TV series, The Love Boat.

So tonight, after months and months and well, years really, of political ads and primaries and debates and whatnot, We, The People, will have voted for the 45th President of the United States (POTUS).  I know I am not alone in wanting this whole thing to be over.  O.V.E.R., over.

But I'm not here to talk politics per se because this isn't a political blog, it's a cookbook blog.  And of course I have a cookbook that fits the bill – The New (what happened to the "old?") American Sampler Cookbook.

This book, published in 1991, provides a bipartisan sample of recipes from then members of Congress as well as then President and Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle.  Even Guam, a U.S. territory, joined in.  All proceeds went to a charity that fights worldwide hunger.

This is one of those cookbooks that is just a straight-up book of recipes - no chit chat, no stories or anecdotes, just lots and lots of good things to eat.  The usual suspects in the Table of Contents are, of course, "Appetizers," "Salads," "Soups," "Stews," etc. all the way down to "Potpourri (Snacks, Sauces, Drinks)."  And heck, just for something completely different, there is a recipe for "Moose Swiss Steak" on page 125.  Take a guess at which state submitted that recipe?

So in terms of cookbooks, this one is pretty complete save for one thing that I desired that perhaps you don't:  party affiliations.  And the reason I wanted this was because I wanted to be fair and make a dish from each major party—Republican and Democrat (though there were a few Independents listed here as well).

Thank goodness for smart phones.  And so over the course of two evenings there I sat, watching TV shows and surfing the internet (multitasking!), looking up all the contributors to this cookbook to see who they were and what party they were with so I could cull the herd down to two.  This was no easy task but I'm no quitter!

To make my life easier though, I must confess that I defaced my own cookbook*.  Yup.  For the first time ever, I sat there with a pencil, noting a "D," "R," or "I," next to all the names listed in the back of the book.   And honestly, I think I can make a case that this is helpful information because if I didn't know a good portion of these names (25 years after publication), then it's likely the next cook book owner won't either.

I am nothing but fair.  And you are all more than welcome!

The most important thing to me about this cookbook though, is that it's a rare glimpse back in time when parties on both sides of the aisle worked together to achieve a common good.  "Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end..." (They did.)

I must say, in looking through all the recipes, some members of Congress outdid themselves by submitting not one, not two, but several recipes for our dining enjoyment.  Although it's still early in our voting day (!), I'm going to go out on a limb and declare a winner:  [former] Senator Christopher Bond, Republican, Missouri, gave up 30 recipes and that is outstanding.  I didn't cook any of them, but that is an outstanding effort, especially for a charitable endeavor.

Hot on his heels was Senator Charles Grassley, Republican from Iowa with 15 recipes, the late Senator Spark Matsunaga, Democrat from Hawaii with 10, former Senator Steve Symms from Idaho with 7, and  former Representative Beverly Byron, Democrat from Maryland with 6.

Did you notice how even-handed I was with the runners up?  Two from each side!  Again, I am so fair!

But still folks, the challenge was to try to pair one dish from each party so that the flavors didn't clash, but as with politics and life, some did and thus were eliminated from the race. It took me a while, but I think that I hit the jackpot with these two dishes:  "Beef Stew," from Representative Beryl Anthony, D, Arkansas and "Apple Crisp," from Representative Fred Grandy, R, Iowa.

Now unless you live in Arkansas (and even then...), you may not know who Beryl Albert is but I know – I. Know. – that bells will ring for many of you when you see the name Fred Grandy because in addition to serving in the House of Representatives from 1993-1995, Fred played the beloved character "Gopher" on ABC's hit TV series, The Love Boat, which aired from 1977-1987.

Yes folks, just like actor/governor/President Ronald Reagan, our "Gopher" went to Washington.

I think we need to take a moment to talk about this, don't you?

First, let's talk about the TV show. When The Love Boat premiered (1977), I was a sophomore in college and had no time to watch TV, and yet, now that I have watched a number of reruns on cable, I'm amazed at how many seem familiar.  Perhaps I caught them in reruns even back then?  Highly possible.

Today's college students will likely be surprised to learn that back in the 70's, you'd be hard pressed to find a dorm room with a TV.  Monster stereos, sure, TV's no.  TV's were expensive.  And those who had one (black and white only, and absolutely no cable) were revered, such that many of us gathered (around the campfire, after leaving our covered wagons and horses....) around the TV set in said owner's dorm room to watch our favorite shows or at least try to.

And that's because, sad to say, reception in most dorm rooms was horrible causing us to the do the following (you would call them "hacks") in order to get a picture:  1) putting tin foil on the antennas (yes, antennas—look it up) to pick up a decent picture; 2) creating rabbit ears antennas out of bent clothing hangers to do the same, or 3) creating complicated furniture set-ups resembling cat trees so we could put the TV as close as possible to the window to get a better feed.  Nothing worked though, and if it worked, we more often got sound than we got a picture.  And sure, you can "listen" to something like the movie Gone with the Wind without a picture if need be, but did you want to?  No.  (This happened to us, I kid you not!)

Sound ridiculous?  You young'uns have no idea...

At any rate, here's the basic premise of The Love Boat:  a cruise ship, dubbed The Love Boat, sets sail ("set a course for adventure, your mind on a new romance" = big hint) each week, usually to Mexico, and is manned by Captain Merrill Stubbing (played by The Mary Tyler Moore Show alum, Gavin MacLeod) and his crew.  His crew – and I know you know this – consisted of Doc, the ship's doctor; Julie McCoy, your cruise director; Isaac, the bartender; (eventually) Captain Stubbing's daughter, Vicki, and of course, the Ship's Purser, Berle "Gopher" Smith, played by Fred Grandy of the "Apple Crisp Recipe" Grandys.  As I hope you can imagine by the title, love on the ship was in the air, all day, every day, for passengers and crew alike.  Let's just say Doc took a special interest in the female human body.  Ew.  Even as I write that, it seems creepy but I didn't create the character – a total ladies' man - I just report about it. 

According to Wikipedia, "Gopher's" job, that of a ship's purser, is to handle the ship's finances or, if you will "purse" strings.  Get it?!  And he (or she) does other administrative stuff as well.  But if you ask me – and you didn't – I think "Gopher" (and the rest of the crew) spent more time on misadventures on and off the ship than on handling the money, honey.  Every single week without fail, the crew of The Love Boat got themselves into situations only rivaled by the crew of the S. S. Minnow from the TV show, Gilligan's Island, and yet people loved it.  The plots (of both shows) were ridiculous but The Love Boat lasted 10 seasons and Gilligan's Island, three so they had staying power.

As an aside, were you like me, yelling suggestions at the TV about how to get off Gilligan's Island?  Thought so.

At any rate, according to Wikipedia, Fred had an interest in politics that preceded his time as an actor so it was perhaps a natural path for him once he took a break from acting.  He has since returned to TV, appearing on The Mindy Project.

And now that we got all that out of the way – the history of TV, life in college, The Love Boat, ridiculous plots, and actor, representative, and recipe contributor, Fred Grandy – we can turn our attention to the other side of the aisle – the Democrats and the "Beef Stew" recipe submitted by Representative Beryl Anthony of Arkansas.  Sadly, this recap does not involve a look through the TV years but I will try to make this as interesting as possible.

First though, let me point out the irony of featuring a dish from someone from Arkansas given that Hillary Clinton, a former resident and First Lady of Arkansas (and The White House) is now running for President. I did not plan this.

So, a brief history of Representative Beryl Anthony:  Beryl Anthony was born and raised in – I love this – El Dorado, Arkansas, before going on to get an undergraduate and graduate (law) degree from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.  Just after law school, he was Arkansas' Assistant Attorney General, then a local prosecuting attorney, and then went into private practice before running for Congress in 1979.  He served from 1979-1993 and thereafter, returned to private practice in Washington, D.C.  While in Congress though – and how ironic is this – he was a member of the Ways and Means Committee which deals with money in the form of taxation and revenue-raising measures. In other words, he was just like our purser friend, "Gopher!"

Coincidence?  I think not.

Now I would not be doing my due diligence here if I didn't warn you that while Fred's recipe for "Apple Crisp" takes a mere hour to make, you had best plan ahead (vote early and often!) when you make this beef stew as it requires 5 hours of cooking time in a slow oven (250F).  Happily, I made another recipe (fruitcake), which I will post about next month, that required the same cooking time and temp.  I am nothing if not good at multitasking!  And as soon as the stew and fruitcake were done, I popped in the apple crisp and we had ourselves a hearty election night dinner. The stew was delicious but warning – it produced mass quantities and I only made half a recipe.  The apple crisp is perhaps now one of my new favorites because the "crisp" ingredients are only used as toppings and not crust and toppings. Why, it's practically diet food!

This now concludes Election Night 2016.  Hilariously, and prophetically perhaps, we switched between election coverage and several episodes of Food Network's Chopped.

Only in America....

Beef Stew – makes 6 servings (Ann's Note:  requires 5 hours cooking time at 250.)
Ann's Note:  When I saw how much a half recipe made, I envisioned us eating this stew until the next election cycle but I am happy to report that we have just enough for two hearty (and I mean "hearty) servings as leftovers.

3-4 pounds lean stew meat (chuck roast is great) (Ann's Note:  I used chuck roast country ribs – no bone – and cut them into small pieces.  Delicious!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 ribs of celery, cut in 1-inch lengths
5 carrots, cut in 1-inch lengths
2 or 3 onions, diced
5 potatoes, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons minute tapioca
2 bay leaves
3 cups tomato juice
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup red wine
2 cups frozen green peas
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

Preheat oven to 250.  Sauté meat lightly in olive oil.  Place all ingredients in pot except frozen peas and mushrooms.  Seal pot with foil and put lid on.  Bake for 4 ½ hours at 250F.  Add peas and mushrooms and cook 30 minutes longer.

Apple Crisp – fills a 9-inch cake pan
4 cups apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup water
1 cup sugar
¾ cup flour
½ cup margarine; softened (Ann's Note:  I used butter)

Peel and slice apples.  Coat a square, 9-inch cake pan with spray shortening.  Place apple slices in it and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add lemon juice and water.  Mix sugar, flour, and margarine/butter until the combination crumbles.  Spread this over the fruit.  Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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