Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Well, Well, Well ... How 'Bout THEM Cookies?!

I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, March 26, 1992

Today is Wednesday, where we feature Cooking With Amy. So in honor of yesterday's election returns, let's take a stroll down Memory Lane, shall we?

Everyone loves a good chocolate chip cookie, and the following excerpt from an article published in The New York Times, July 15, 1992 reminds us how Hillary got to where she is today. Mmm-mmm good!

Hillary Clinton says she has been baking chocolate chip cookies since she and her brothers competed to see who could produce the largest on Christmas. "My mother wanted to keep us out of my father's hair while he put up the Christmas tree," she recalled. "We usually got sick eating them and couldn't eat Christmas dinner." (Editor's Note: This is not exactly a ringing endorsement of this recipe.)

Years afterward, she continued to bake them with her daughter, Chelsea. And now she is in a bake-off with Barbara Bush that Family Circle magazine was inspired to sponsor shortly after Mrs. Clinton's remark about not wanting to "stay home and bake cookies" when her husband was elected Governor of Arkansas. The contest pits Mrs. Clinton's version, made with oatmeal and shortening, against Mrs. Bush's, made without oatmeal but with butter. The public has been invited to vote, so Mrs. Clinton is giving her cookies a jump start at the convention this week. On Monday, she told an audience of Congressional wives at a tea given in her honor by Doris Matsui, wife of Representative Robert T. Matsui of California, the Democratic Party treasurer, that while she hadn't sought a competition, she was going all out to win. "Join with me in the first real effort of the election year," she said. "Try my cookies. I hope you like them, but like good Democrats vote for them anyway." Family Circle said that Margot Perot, wife of Ross Perot, had been invited to submit a cookie recipe but had not responded. "My feeling was that she orders in," said Jacqueline Leo, the magazine's editor in chief. The cookies at the tea were baked by Powell Weeks, who cooks for one of Mrs. Clinton's friends, Norma Asnes. Other friends have been asked to bake them, too. "My friends all over the United States are bringing them by the carload," she said. "We're passing them out all over." (Editor's Note: Hints of a political bribe.)

But her friends' cookies cannot be passed out at Madison Square Garden because of health regulations about food made in unapproved kitchens. (Editor's Note: Uh-oh!) And so, stacks of the cookies are being prepared by Soutine Bakery -- 6,000 were delivered on Monday and a few hundred more yesterday. "I can vouch for my friends' kitchens," she said, "but I can understand that the health department doesn't know about the kitchens they come from. I want people to vote for my cookies. It's a matter of honor." (Editor's Note: Never heard "honor" defined quite that way. Hmmm...)

Hillary Clinton's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Total time: 20 minutes

Vegetable oil for baking sheets
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets.
2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda on waxed paper.
3. Beat together shortening, sugars and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture and rolled oats. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden.
5. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 7 1/2 dozen cookies.

Nutrition analysis per cookie: 67 calories, 4 grams fat, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 35 milligrams sodium, 1 gram protein, 9 grams carbohydrate.