Presidential Tchotchkas

Here's a cute little piece written especially for Luxuria some time last year, during one of Chuck's ongoing attempts to muster enough contributions for a new "Magnificent Seven" column. Alas, it was not to be, so I used it for filler over at BOSTWORLD during a particularly hectic week. I am happy to return it finally to its intended home:

Whenever I’m in the vicinity of Austin, Texas, I always try to make time to visit the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum. It’s terrific facility; it’s even got a presidential automaton. But instead of spouting pithy patriotic sentiment like Disneyland’s Lincoln robot, the LBJ automaton tells jokes. My favorite gag has the punch line, “I know doctor, but I like what I drinks a lot better than what I hears” (you can fill in the rest of the joke yourself).

I’ve had my eye on the presidential dessert plates in the gift shop for some time. But they are rather pricey, and besides, it would take a stronger man than I to choose between the lush but stern extravagance of the First Lady Francis Folsom Cleveland pansies design and the breathtaking austerity of the Ida Saxton McKinley carnation. I settled instead on a collection of LBJ’s phone calls from 1963 through 1965. My favorite track is the one in which Johnson bawls out Congressman Adam Clayton Powell for dragging his heels on an education bill: “You looked me straight in the eye and said ‘I’ll report this bill and I’ll get it on the floor,’ and you DID NOT DO IT!”

My wife recently visited the gift shop at Washington DC’s Dulles Airport, and was surprised at how many anti-Bush collectibles she found there. You know the kind I mean: countdown calendars for for keeping track of how many days are left in the administration, “Don’t blame me — I voted for Kerry” bumper stickers, “Drink up! The apocalypse is coming!” shot glasses, the usual. But she passed on all this contentious treasure, choosing instead a book of presidential trivia, a beautiful presidential kitchen towel, and a very nice book of presidential cookie recipes. Some of the must-try morsels include Herbert Hoover’s lace wafers, Franklin Pierce’s sesame seed cookies and Richard Nixon’s USS Sequoia brownies (named in honor of the presidential yacht).

Anyway, in honor of this festive week of celebration, I am announcing The First Annual Bostworld Presidential Contest. Here’s the deal: the first person who can answer the following question will get a copy of President Zachary Taylor’s legendary recipe for black pepper cookies, hand-typed by Yours Truly: At the time of his inauguration, our 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was related to eleven former Presidents. Can you name them?

Thanks to everyone who ventured their guesses! Like I said, I wrote this article last year. Not only can I no longer remember who the presidential relatives are, I can’t even remember which book to look in for the answer! But I remember the recipe:

Black Pepper Cookies

2 EGGS, SEPARATED
1 CUP LIGHT BROWN SUGAR, PACKED
1 CUP FLOUR
1/4 TSP. SALT
1 TSP. CINNAMON
1/2 TSP. GROUND CLOVES
1/4 TSP. BLACK PEPPER
1/4 TSP. BAKING SODA
1/4 TSP. BAKING POWDER
1/2 CUP RAISINS
1/2 CUP CHOPPED NUTS

Preheat oven to 375

In a small bowl, beat 2 egg whites.
In another small bowl, beat 2 egg yolks.
Combine egg whites and yolks and mix.
Add brown sugar and mix again.
In another bowl, sift flour with salt, cinnamon, cloves, black
pepper, baking soda, and baking powder.
Add the sifted ingredients to the eggs.
Stir in mixed raisins and nuts.
If dough is not stiff, add more flour. Blend well.
Drop by a tablespoon onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake for 5 to 7 minutes.
Cool on a rack.

YIELD: 5 DOZEN COOKIES.

 

[Bostworld - Derrick Bostrom]