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Let’s Cook: First Lady Quotes and a Snappy Cookie

By Chuck Repnow - | Oct 31, 2020

Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies

Since 1992, there has been a First Lady Cookie competition. It was renamed the Presidential Cookie Poll a few years later. This contest has been a popular event in the past seven elections; and if you don’t think cookies have pull, guess again. This contest correctly predicted the election results five times. It also had two failures when the chosen cookie failed to proceed to the White House. This happened in 2008 when Cindy McCain’s oatmeal butterscotch cookies beat Michelle Obama’s lemon zest shortbread recipe. The cookie crumbled in 2016 with the preheated race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump; readers selected the Clinton family’s chocolate chips cookies over Trump family’s sour cream stars.

Did you notice that there is not a cookie poll this year? Are you thinking it was canceled because of the coronavirus? After all, eating a cookie with a mask on is tough! Maybe you thought this contest had lost its zest because, after all, we shouldn’t be thinking that only women can bake cookies. Maybe you thought the idea of this contest was a nonstick because many women prefer careers to staying home and baking. I guess we could extract a number of reasons why this contest is not happening.

If you are ready, I will cut in the plain truth into this mix of reasons why the contest is not happening. It has come to an end because Family Circle, the magazine that has hosted the competition since its inception, published its last magazine in December 2019 ending its 86-year circulation run. As of this writing, there has been no intention of bringing back the contest.

So what should we do? We could bake Michelle Obama’s 2012 recipe for white-and-dark chocolate chip cookies. Maybe we should try Elizabeth Dole’s recipe for pecan cookies from 1996 which are also excellent. We could also extract bits of wisdom from former first ladies as food for thought.

So set your mixers down, forget about preheating the oven, and let us sift through some wise thoughts from former first ladies. Some of these quotes are from years ago; however, the wisdom they shared can easily be incorporated into our lives today.

Pat Nixon, who favored the colors of orange and yellow, once said “I always look forward, not back.” Did you know that Martha Washington’s favorite color was purple? Martha once said “The greatest part of our happiness depends on our disposition, not our circumstances.” Abigail Adams who favored the color yellow said, “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

Guess which first lady preferred pastels? It was Jackie Kennedy, and she left us this quote, “Dear God, please take care of your servant John Fitzgerald Kennedy.” It was Rosalynn Carter who likes blue that said “You can have a full life after 50.” She also stated “There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.” The magna cum laude graduate of the beauty of red school, Nancy Reagan gave us this advice “I am a big believer that eventually everything comes back to you. You get back what you give out.” Lady Bird Johnson not only loved warm yellow in wildflowers, but clothing as well, and she brought forth this advice. “The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.” A feisty feminist, from Michigan Betty Ford who favored earth tones shared this, “That’s what we’re here on this earth for, to help others.”

It was Barbara Bush who favored light blue that stated, “Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people-your family, friends and coworkers and even strangers you meet along the way.” Michelle Obama favors shades of purple and lavender and gives us this guidance, “Choose people who lift you up.” Always pretty in pink was Mamie Eisenhower and her quote will have many smiling “Every woman over fifty should stay in bed until noon.” Hillary Clinton enjoys blue and states this “Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in.”

How was that for a colorful insight to some of our first ladies wisdom? Their words can inspire us, open our eyes and remind us that a warm heart is one of our best assets as we move across the stage of life. Half the joy of life is made up of little things such as skipping in the moonlight, trying a new cookies recipe or giving someone a helping hand when they least expect it. We look forward to our next first lady and what colors her world. May she have gift of grasping the significance of little joys and worthwhile endeavors while administering tasks of caring and kindness to our nation and beyond.

Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies

This was a favorite recipe of Eleanor Roosevelt. She was not known to spend much time in the kitchen. She did favor these cookies and served them to reporters (whom she insisted include women!)

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp salt

Additional sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.

Roll into 11/2 in. balls, then roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Makes roughly 2 1/2 dozen.

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