Monday, September 10, 2012

First Ladies Cookies

In my copy of America cooks, many of the recipes are attributed to the First Ladies (the book was a collection of women's clubs recipes, so it sort of makes sense). The cookie section featured three. At present I have the dough for Mrs. Eisenhower's sugar cookies chilling, though I must say, they seem kind of plain. Still, I can picture her making them. I wonder if perhaps the recipe came via her mother-in-law. I've visited Eisenhower's childhood home in Kansas, and stood in his mother's kitchen. I could see these originating there. I know one thing for certain-I don't dare embellish these cookies. No extra sanding sugar on top, no brushing with egg-these are mid-century, mid-American cookies that are, "just enough" for family, but probably not for company. I know that sort of cookie, for I am of mid-century-mid-American bakers that wouldn't waste expensive dragees and such on children. My Gran would have appreciated Mrs. Eisenhower's cookies. She does use a hefty tablespoon of vanilla extract in the dough.

The cookbook also has a recipe for chocolate butter cookies attributed to Mrs. Nixon. Again, they're pretty ordinary sounding, conservative even in the use of butter, but I can summon a mental image of Pat rushing in the house, tossing her cloth coat on the chair, pitching Checkers a biscuit, screaming at the girls to pick up their room, and getting down to work rolling butter cookies. I have to work a bit harder at this, but it isn't impossible.

Finally, we have a recipe for some incredibly fussy meringues from Mrs. Kennedy. This requires too much imagination, as we all know Jackie never got anywhere near a cookie, and she probably didn't let Caroline either (at least not until she grew out of the awkward teenaged years). John John probably got cookies, but I still don't believe she baked them. All that beating sugar slowly into egg whites with the stuff flying off the beaters all over her designer clothes? Unlikely. I don't think they taught Home Ec. at Miss Porters.

Tomorrow I'll bake up Mrs. Eisenhower's cookies, and report back.

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