December 2010 Chickens in the Road Newsletter

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December 2010 Chickens in the Road Newsletter


*Feature: The 1970 Congressional Club Cookbook

*Kitchen Extra: Sandwich Ring Revisited

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: My Tree

*Recent Highlights: The Christmas Queen, Growing Snow, The Farmhouse Year in Review 2010, and More

*Sneak Peek: Soft Soap

*Farm Bell Recipes: Soup’s On

*Blast from the Past: Capturing Winter

*Feature: The 1970 Congressional Club Cookbook

Among the last things my mother gave me was the 1970 Congressional Club Cookbook. My mother knew my love of old cookbooks. I don’t know how much my mother used this cookbook and I never had a chance to ask about it after I received it.

I don’t remember ever seeing it out in her kitchen. It was presented to her as a gift on May 3, 1970 by one James Smith, according to the inscription in the front of the book. I have no idea who he was. Mayhap he was her lover. (I’m just kidding!!! MY MOTHER IS TURNING OVER IN HER GRAVE. From laughing….)

There’s a Virginia Slims ad inside the front cover.

My mother’s copy is the 8th edition. The 14th edition of the Congressional Club Cookbook is available today. (See it here. It’s quite pricey.) I bet there aren’t any cigarette ads in it. The first edition of the cookbook was published in 1928.

The Congressional Club was founded in 1908. In 1970, an active member was the wife of a sitting or former Member of Congress, Supreme Court Justice, or Member of the President’s Cabinet. The cookbook appears to continue to be their primary fundraising operation to support their social events, activities, and speakers. My mother was never a member of the Congressional Club, but she moved in the outskirts of its aura as, at that time, the wife of the minister of a prominent Washington, D.C. church. Members of Congress attended the Church of Christ where my dad preached, and my father even gave the prayer at a National Prayer Breakfast one year. I was just a little kid at the time, so I don’t remember much about this period in my parents’ lives, but I know my mother loved it because she loved all sorts of fancy stuff and formal entertaining.

The book includes instructions for the protocol amongst the Washington elite. Tidbits include such directives as the husband precedes the wife in a Washington receiving line, a guest of honor in Washington is not automatically seated to the right of the host (as per usual etiquette) but according to rank amongst all the guests, and if you wish to leave the party before the ranking guest leaves, you must explain to your hostess WHY. Or they shoot you at dawn. Or something.

There’s a bit of sexist flavor to the book, from the viewpoint of 40 years. The Congressional Club was formed to provide socialization for the wives of Congressmen who, of course, had nothing to do while the menfolk were doing important stuff and running the country. The Congressional Club is now open to “spouses” not wives.

There are recipes in the book from the lowliest of first-time Congressmen’s wives to the wives of Rockefeller….


…..and Kennedy.

There’s a whole section on “Embassy Cooking” from wives of ambassadors. This one comes from France.

I’m gonna make that as soon as I find some snails!

There is exhaustive information on how to properly accept or decline invitations, what to wear, which door to enter the White House and where to depart, and how to behave yourself at a state dinner. As formal and high-strung as much of the book appears, it begins with the simplest of recipes–the famous bean soup made by the House Restaurant kitchen at the Capitol every day since 1904 when then Speaker of the House, Joseph G. Cannon, threw a hissy fit because they’d left it off the menu one day.

How to make House Restaurant Bean Soup:

2 pounds No. 1 white Michigan beans*
1 smoked ham hock
salt and pepper

*I’m not sure what they mean by No. 1 white Michigan beans. My best guess is small great northern beans or Navy beans.

Cover beans with cold water and soak overnight. Drain and re-cover with water. Add the smoked ham hock and simmer slowly for about four hours until beans are cooked tender. Then add salt and pepper to suit taste. Just before serving, bruise beans with large spoon or ladle, enough to cloud. Serves six.

Just remember–no eating until everyone is seated according to rank!

*Kitchen Extra: Sandwich Ring Revisited

I wrote about my Party Sandwich Ring creation here earlier this week. It was a hit made up from leftovers and memories. The only real problem I had with the recipe was how the ring turned into pretty much of a solid circular loaf after rising and baking. I got a couple suggestions in the comments–one, to place a glass in the middle of the ring, and two, to place the dough in a tube pan.

I decided to try the tube pan route.

This worked perfectly! Thank you to Pete and lavenderblue for the suggestions to keep the ring shape

You can find this recipe on Farm Bell Recipes to get the handy print page and save it to your recipe box.

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: My Tree

The full Monty.

A number of people have requested a full-length shot of my Christmas tree and here it is. It’s a six-foot Scotch pine from the bargain rack at the farmers market. I love it. I cover it with homemade garlands, twig stars, cookie cutouts, and vintage ornaments.

Do you make your own natural garland for your tree? If not, make one next year! See how I make mine with popcorn, cranberries, and dried oranges slices in Stringing Popcorn Garland.

*Recent Highlights: The Christmas Queen, Growing Snow, The Farmhouse Year in Review 2010, and More

Get acquainted with everyone in the Cast of Dogs–and see me finally get a grip on that bad baby in There’s Been a Sea Change. My favorite animal post of the year, though, is always Clover’s annual holiday address. Don’t miss The Christmas Queen. Find all my farm animal stories here.

December was all about holiday recipes, but I also tried my hand at Making Munster and fed my obsession with old cookbooks with the Vintage Rumford Cookbook and my passion for old jars with Ball Ideal Jars. (Check out the link in the Ball Ideal Jars post to a chart that can help you date your old jars.) Don’t miss a thing in my kitchen! Get all my recipes.

Check out a little holiday nonsense in A Gingerbread Man’s Dream, see me torture my kids for the perfect annual holiday photo in Christmas Card, and catch up on everything in The Farmhouse Year in Review 2010. See all my country living stories.

It was a busy crafting month with the holidays upon us and homemade gifts to create. See Making Cupcake Candles and my Homemade Body Spray Recipe. I also made a sentimental rediscovery in The Return of the Stockings. Browse all my posts in crafts.

There’s not a whole lot going on in my garden at this time of year, but I’m doing a fabulous job at Growing Snow! Be sure to see all my garden stories.

*Sneak Peak: Soft Soap

I need some of this:

Homemade soft (liquid) soap. Making soft soap is similar to making bar soap except that you use a different type of lye. For bar soap, you use sodium hydroxide. For liquid soap, you use potassium hydroxide. Potassium hydroxide is what makes soft soap….soft. Come with me on the next step of my soapmaking journey. (And you can do it in a crock pot, too!)

*Farm Bell Recipes: Soup’s On

I’ve been working for awhile on getting all my recipes from my blog copied over to Farm Bell Recipes so that they are available in a searchable format. It’s soup season and I got all my soup and stew recipes over there recently. This Baked Potato Soup is one of my favorites. You need this on a cold winter night!

How to make Baked Potato Soup:

4 large baking potatoes
10 strips of peppered bacon
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
7 cups milk
1 cup cheese, shredded (cheddar, pepper jack, or whatever you like)
8 ounces sour cream
3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

Bake potatoes; cool, peel, and cut up. While potatoes are baking, fry bacon. Cool and crumble. In a large soup pot, melt butter. Add flour and chopped onion. Once butter/flour/onion mixture thickens and bubbles, add the milk, cheese, sour cream, potatoes, and seasoned salt. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in crumbled bacon. Serve immediately. Note: If you use regular bacon, add 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground pepper. Or, add some coarse ground pepper even if you do use peppered bacon. As much as I love this soup, this soup loves pepper!

Get the handy print page on Farm Bell Recipes to save it to your recipe box: Baked Potato Soup.

Find all the soup and stew recipes at Farm Bell Recipes here.

There is a fantastic new post from community members every day on the Farm Bell Recipes blog. Don’t miss a single one. Read the Farm Bell blog here. Would you like to contribute a post to the community blog at Farm Bell Recipes? You can! See all the information here for submissions. We’d love to hear your voice!

December Farm Bell Recipes blog contributors:

Beth — One Old Goat
Charley Cooke — Cooke’s Frontier
CindyP — Chippewa Creek ~ Our Life Simplified
CindyS — Spiritway Press
Ewenique — Ewenique
Jim in Colorado — Granddad’s Corner
KentuckyFarmGirl — My Country Blog of This and That
Kerrie — City Girl Farming
Larissa — The Henway
Launi — Gracious Rain
Laura — The Blue Zoo
Laura P — The Land of Moo
Patrice — Everyday Ruralty
Sheryl — Providence Acres
Tow Lady — The Tow Lady

THANK YOU! Please give them a visit!

*Blast from the Past: Capturing Winter

I defeated Winter and made her mine.

Goats, dogs, cookies, and simple, natural decorative arrangements, see me bend Winter to my will in this oldie but goodie. Read Capturing Winter.


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