Experiment #10: Joan's Blue Cheese Mold

In honor of former FBI Director James Comey's marathon testimony before our Reptilian Overlords Congress this week, we thought we'd tune the blog to the key of partisan acrimony.

Enter "Joan's Blue Cheese Mold," a culinary cosmic horror and the most divisive recipe we've featured yet. 

This was a doomed project from the start. Tom loves blue cheese for its footy, fungus-y flair and its ability to effortlessly and irreparably ruin steaks, salads, and hot wings.

Liz tries blue cheese once a year in the vain hope that she'll have acquired the taste. She hasn't, perhaps because she still has functioning, youthful(!) tastebuds that send helpful signals to her brain such as "DON'T PUT FRUITY GARBAGE JUICE IN YOUR MOUTH." 

We've made you this handy, color-coded diagram to help differentiate our respective hot takes from this point on: 

Sneak preview of the nightmare fodder to come.

Tom: The only thing wrong with this recipe is all the parts that are not blue cheese. Unlike Liz, I was raised in an upstanding, moral, American household where we respected all our cheeses, regardless of color or mold content. Blue cheese is an indispensable and beloved part of our national salad dressing heritage. Its assertive, bold complexity lends depth to any palate adventurous enough to accept it on its own delicious terms.

Liz: Blue cheese in general—and Joan's Blue Cheese Mold in particular—looks and tastes like someone stuck a bunch of deep-cleansing pore strips on Ted Cruz and then scraped whatever came out into a bowl.

We should clarify here that we have no idea who "Joan" is (though Liz suspects it's just the female euphemism for Bob, the Black Lodge demon from Twin Peaks.

This recipe(?) comes to us courtesy of Olga Esch, wife of Rep. Marvin Leonel [sic] Esch (R-MI). Rep. Esch was born into a monstrously long life of unending pain and suffering in 1927 and served Michigan's 2nd Congressional District from 1967–77. 

Esch was fairly prolific as short-service Congressmen go. True to his Republican roots, he introduced a slew of bills aimed at loosening up the tax code—plus one to prevent doggos from being used in any kind of biological or chemical weapons research. All of them died in committee. (The bills, not the dogs.)

"Hey, I just met you. And this is crazy. But my wife makes jiggly cheese. So save me, maybe."

One of his few bills that did become law was H.R.8674, "An Act to declare a national policy of coordinating the increasing use of the metric system in the United States, and to establish a United States Metric Board to coordinate the voluntary conversion to the metric system." 

Remember how we all gleefully embraced the metric system in the 1980s and never looked back?

Hey, it just goes to show that even full-throated, bipartisan legislation won't pry inches and miles from our Rascal-gripping patriot hands. 'MURRCA. *eagle scrawwwwww*

Although opponents described him as a staunch partisan, Esch was an active member of the Wednesday Group, a small coalition of moderate Republicans who wanted to end both the Vietnam War and the draft. (Years later, a member described the group's aesthetic as ''Republican but not so Republican that it frightens people away.'')

Today, some of Esch's views seem downright progressive. Over the course of his ten-year career, he sponsored or co-sponsored legislation to promote electric cars and solar energy, ban nonrecyclable beverage containers (check that sweet Michigan 10-cent container refund), and appropriate additional funds to NASA and the National Science Foundation.

We can't say for sure, but we're pretty confident Marv would have signed the Paris Agreement. 

We can't say for sure, but we're pretty confident any world that could bring a blue cheese gelatin mold into being is too wicked to save. 

By the time of his death in 2010, Marv and Olga had been married for 60 years. 

By the time of his poisoning in 2010, Marv had been imprisoned as a test subject by a malodorous werewitch for 60 years.

His wife's blue cheese mold—and we're laying this abomination squarely at the feet of Olga, not the elusive "Joan"—is a thoroughly period paroxysm of gelatin, butter, cream, and shame. 

The mold itself stumped us for a bit, though. Olga doesn't specify a size or shape—just a "greased mold." This may shock our readers (hi, Mom and Dad!) but, uh. We don't exactly own a lot of molds.


We couldn't agree on a good name for the fish mold, so we're just calling him "The Harbinger" 

Tom groused about reusing the fish mold for this recipe, but Liz figured if we were going to "cook" a comestible horrorshow, we may as well be consistent in form as well as function. 

Step 1. Surround a forklift of blue cheese with an assemblage of useless sidekicks
Lowkey shoutout to "President Poupon." Remember when our pundits had nothing better to mock than someone ordering Dijon mustard on his burger? 
This should send a chill through even a raccoon's spine: there's half a pound of blue cheese in this recipe. And Olga Esch thinks she's going to balance that with a half-teaspoon of Dijon mustard.

We just have one question here...are you f*cking with us, Olga? Wrongthink on cheese aside, that is a downright spiteful amount of mustard. What power could half a teaspoon of Dijon have against THE ARMIES OF MORDOR  a half-pound of Funk Crumbles? 

Olga is a straight-up nihilist. And not the fun, ferret-y, Aimee-Mann-in-The-Big-Lebowski kind. 

Step 2. Regret not purchasing a hand mixer for the third and fourth times
Hello darkness, my old friend. 
We know, we know. We should have bought a hand mixer. We've learned nothing over the last 10 weeks.  

But since this whole recipe is a form of self-flagellation, it seems oddly fitting to spend the first half-hour whipping both egg whites and cream into solid states.

Whip until your arms scream in agony loud enough to drown out the thought of blue cheese Jell-O. And remember, folks: chill your whipping implements. 

Maybe it's junk food science, but at least your carpal-tunnel-inflamed wrists will be slightly soothed by the cool metal bowl. 

Alternatively: whisk until the egg white flips you off.
I'd be mad, too, if someone tried to fold me into a pile of half-digested finch poop. 

Step 3: Fold your egg whites and whipping cream into a pile of half-digested finch poop.
Can you paint with all the colors of the fin?

Liz had to leave the room while Tom mixed this up. Every turn of the spoon kicked another wave of tangy, socky fright fumes into shared airspace. 

Tom thinks if Liz ever actually goes to France, she's going to wind up wanting the whole place nuked.

Blue Cheese is the worst Glade Plug-In by far. 
If you squint, you can almost convince yourself it's full of gravy and not half-congealed mold soup. 

We're skipping over a few steps here (dissolve some gelatin in white wine; mix cheeses with butter, an egg yolk, and an insulting amount of mustard), but you're not honestly considering making this, are you? 

Step 4. Chill until dark, ancient magic binds the fish into its true form. 
it is I, jumbled shoelace nose

J-O-A-N'-S   B-L-U-E   C-H-E-E-S-E   M-O-L-D    

J-U-M-B-L-E-D   S-H-O-E-L-A-C-E   N-O-S-E


...that was more climactic when J.K. Rowling did it.

Apologies for the lackluster setting—as we decanted the mold, it adhered steadfastly to the cutting board and refused to move intact. Ritz crackers have been added to make it... ritzy.

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. This mold is somehow simultaneously both chalky and slimy. The mold itself oozed with an oily dampness that lingered on the cutting board like dew. It had the texture of curdled spray foam and the taste of a mayonnaise-based salad that was left under a heat lamp. 

Tom recorded Liz's reaction. It wasn't pretty. 

She went back and tried two more crackers LIKE A F*CKING CHAMP and only needed Tom to make choo choo noises on the way to her traumatized mouth once. (Twice)

We cut off the video too early, but she was reaching for some wine in the fridge, which she gargled like mouthwash. 

There's this beach in British Columbia where running-shoe-clad feet—no other body parts, just de-anklepated feet—keep washing up from the Pacific Ocean

Imagine someone plucked those trainers from where they lay, stuck a fork in them, and sold them as street food. 

This mold tastes like that decomposed foot slurry must after a few days fermenting in the Vancouver sun. 

...Yeah, it's not great.

Which brings us to the final step in the recipe. 

Step 6: Decant into an appropriate serving dish

Joan's Blue Cheese Mold

By Mrs. Marvin L. (Olga) Esch
Adapated from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 egg, separated
1/2 lb. blue cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon gelatin
1/2 cup white wine
2 cans Hamm's

Whip cream, set aside. Beat egg white until stiff, set aside. In a bowl, beat cheeses, butter, mustard and egg yolk. Mix gelatin in wine and set in pan of hot water until dissolved. Add to cheese. Fold in whipped cream and egg white. Pour into greased mold. Chill. Unmold and serve with crackers in the garbage. Drink Hamm's until the taste is just a haunting, traumatic memory. Makes no servings. May God have mercy on your soul. 

Experiment #9: Impossible Quiche

This week's entry is coming at you a little late—and nothing's more time sensitive and topical than the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book—but we have an excuse.

We were attempting the impossible. The Impossible Quiche, that is.

Our latest culinary experiment comes from the inconstant mind and fat-soluble tastebuds of Mrs. (Carol) Jamie L. Whitten, Jr., daughter-in-law of Rep. Jamie L. Whitten (D–MI). Rep. Whitten (Sr.) was an old-school Southern Democrat, as committed to segregation as he was to state aid.

Whitten Prime was born in Cascilla, Mississippi, in 1910, and served his state's First District with the fervor of an estranged teenager at a Manson Family picnic. Over the course of his 53-year tenure in the House, Whitten rerouted an outsized parade of federal funding to his home state, due in part to its longstanding inability to adapt to an antebellum economy (we're not exaggerating. At the time of the 1860 census, 55 percent of Mississippi's population were enslaved. Mississippi does not have a great track record of eliciting voluntary residents)

Known as “Mr. Mumbles” for his tendency to thicken his Southern drawl whenever he wanted to obfuscate a point, Whitten had an uncanny knack for leveraging his position on the powerful Appropriations committee through the judicious application of weasely words and careful silences that always seemed to end up getting the money where he thought it ought to go. Typically: decades of cotton subsidies and four-lane highways between Nowhere and East Nowhere.

Like any upstanding Southern man of his generation representing a majority-black district, Whitten was a segregationist who signed the “Southern Manifesto” that condemned Brown v. Board and voted against the Civil Rights Acts of ’57, ’60, ’64, ’65, and ’68 (BINGO!). But he had a change of heart once he realized his black constituents could vote and voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1991. 

America: where any man can summon the courage to act 30 years too late.

When not occupied with a glacial change of heart on race relations, Whitten also pseudo-penned a pro-pesticide piece of propaganda, That We May Live, as a rebuttal to Rachel Carson's environmentalist text Silent Spring. We say "pseudo" because the book was almost entirely funded and conceived by the pesticide industry.

Hey, not everyone has access to the celebrated ghostwriter of The Art of the Deal.

At the time he left office, he was the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives and the second-longest serving member of Congress in general. Naturally, he was beloved by his constituents and colleagues alike. 

“He’ll give you an ulcer,” said fellow Representative Silvio O. Conte. “Dealing with him is like throwing putty against a wall.”

Another colleague described him as a “good Southern horse trader,” a turn of phrase that makes us wonder whether “horse” was in the first draft.

Today, Whitten's voting record seems as impossible as his quiche. Sure, he was pro-segregation and anti-environment, but he also voted for food stamps and against abortion restrictions, Reagan-era tax cuts, and the Persian Gulf War.

In short, Jamie L. Whitten was a man whose political contradictions were rivaled only by his daughter-in-law's culinary confusion.

Step 1. Attempt the...impossible? 

It is the greatest mystery of our age. 
Carol's cromulent crustable has some...unorthodox instructions. Let's start with the fact that one of the first sentences in the recipe descriptions for her IMPOSSIBLE QUICHE is "Easy quiche, makes its own crust!"


We're reminded of a local attorney named Brad Bradshaw (yes, really) who has billboards plastered with his face all over town. The problem is less with his face (*swoon*) than with the tagline "PHYSICIAN. SURGEON. LAWYER." as if this were a boon and not a terrifying testament to Brad Bradshaw's shallow tenure in and commitment to any one of those expensive careers.

Turns out, "Impossible" was a descriptor used in Bisquick®-branded recipes throughout the Canned Age. Ostensibly, the goal was to capture the life-changing magic of crusting shit up.

Still, "impossible' seems a bit rich. We'd like to suggest "the improbable quiche." Or, perhaps, "the inscrutable quiche." 

Step 2: Steal your recipe from the back of a box  


Turns out, Carol Whitten is a big fat phony. While researching this blog, we kept turning up nearly identical recipes for "Impossible Quiche" adapted from the back of the Bisquick box. Though we couldn't find an image of the old box, we were able to track down a few sources.

To Whit's credit, she made two innovations: nixing the chopped onion (NO VEGETALS ALLOWED) and adding a whole stick of butter.

Spoiler alert: like nearly everything in this book (and, we suspect, like the denizens of the Congressional Club themselves), this quiche is overly rich and incredibly white flavorless. 

Eat your literal heart out, Jonathan Safran Foer.

Step 3: Heat your meat 

Carol calls for 1/2 cup of "ham or bacon." We weren't sure whether the stick of butter would add the requisite layer of standing grease, so we went with the latter.

Once crisp, dice it up and eat it plain set it aside. You may want to cover its little bacon eyes while you liquefy the rest of the ingredients in a blender per the recipe's instructions (we used a food processor—both seem like overkill when you're mixing eggs, pancake mix, and melted butter, but we're going to give C-Whit the benefit of the doubt here).

Disobeying "max fill" rules because that's how we roll. 

Step 4: Bake "until solid"

We had to burn our only pie plate in a cleansing ceremony after making Jesse Helms' Vinegar Pie, so we used a 9x9 metal pan instead. We think this was the wrong move. The quiche turned out a lot thinner and softer than Whit-Whit's instructions augured.

Still, it doesn't look half bad topped with shredded Swiss and bacon sprinkles. Stick that sucker in a 350° oven for 40 minutes (remember: roasting wasn't invented until 1993). Or take Whitten-y's unsettling advice and bake "until solid." 

Step 5: Revise your "impossible" expectations

r u a liquid or a gas or a plasma

Some good things: this looks like a food! The cheese is melting, the bacon's crisping, the egg is...egging.  

Some bad things: this is the texture of cotton batting and the thickness of a pog. 

Crust level: no 

Like a white Mississippi day laborer, our quiche obstinately refused to make its own crust. Nor did it rise to anything approximating a quiche level of puff.

But the bacon and cheese add a certain skill-less cushion to the judging, like the artistry points in a figure-skating routine. This quiche is fine. It will literally power your body. 

It's just missing a certain... je ne sais flavor

Impossible Quiche
By Mrs. Jamie L. (Carol) Whitten, Jr.
Adapted from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book
3 eggs
1/2 cup Bisquick
1 stick melted butter, cooled
1 1/2 cups Half and Half or milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup cooked ham or bacon, diced
2 cans Hamm's

Place all ingredients, except cheese and ham/Hamm's or bacon, in blender. Mix for a few seconds to blend well. Pour into well greased 9 inch quiche or pie pan. Sprinkle cheese and meat over mixture; push gently with back of spoon to get mixture below the surface. Pie pan will be full to the rim of pan. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Check to see if solid. If not bake 5 minutes more. Allow to set after removing from oven, about 15 minutes. Serve. Easy quiche, makes its own crust! Makes 8 to 10 servings.