When Linda Bauer first asked U.S. politicians for recipes for a cookbook, the response was, quite frankly, underwhelming.
Then she learned why.
"They automatically pitch everything that doesn’t come from their district," Bauer said, chuckling.
Her follow-up — recruiting a couple of congressmen to write "Dear Colleague" letters — proved more successful. The result, "The American Sampler Cookbook" (Medallion Books), was published in 1986. Two cookbooks followed: "The New American Sampler Cookbook" (Kent State University Press, 1991) and "Recipes From Historic Texas" (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2003).
And now, during one of the most hotly contested presidential years ever, Bauer has come out with the bipartisan "The Great American Sampler Cookbook: Recipes from the White House & Congress" (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2004, $19.95).
"The cranberry bread from (Sen. John) Kerry is very, very good," Bauer said in a phone interview from her home in Houston. "And so are the cowboy cookies from (President) Bush. I think it’s the coconut that really makes them."
Dick Cheney supplied a recipe, chicken florentine, but John Edwards did not.
"I called 12 times," Bauer said.
More than 200 recipes are included in the 2004 volume.
Bauer likes that the politicians often pushed local products. Sen. Susan M. Collins, for example, specified Maine blueberries in her "Melt in Your Mouth Blueberry Cake." Sen. Ted Stevens suggested Alaskan salmon in his Alaskan marinated grilled salmon recipe. Sen. John Warner of Virginia recommended Chesapeake Bay blue crabmeat in his Norfolk crab cakes. And Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia specified Vidalia onions in his Vidalia onion soup.
Bauer knows many politicians supplied recipes personally from the handwritten notes she received and the follow-up calls when an ingredient was left out.
The biggest surprises in producing the latest book?
"I was surprised to get one from Hillary Clinton," Bauer said of the first lady turned New York senator, who shared her recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
She also was surprised by Arizona baked beans from Sen. John McCain.
"Who would have thought baked beans would be a favorite recipe?" Bauer asked.