Mailbag: The 1965 Congressional Club Cook Book

Here's the thing: this blog is a labor of masochism gelatin love. We will never advertise to you, sell your data, or ask you to donate to a Patreon, mostly because we are profoundly lazy and don't know how to do any of those things. 

"Too Incompetent to Sell Out": that's the Cooking With the Congressional Club Promise.

That said, we are always elated to receive ANCIENT TREASURES from friends of the Clog. Get a load of this early Christmas gift from Warren and Katie in Iowa City, IA: 

A rare glimpse of early American furry porn.
The 1965 Congressional Club Cook Book (seventh edition!) is a beautiful, slick-paged tome full of rich illustrations of sexy housewives wearing mascot heads. We're not kidding. If you've ever wanted to see a thimble-waisted woman with a donkey head bending over to slide a tray of "Alaska Logs" into a hot oven...well, you can come over and peruse the book. Just wear (long, white, evening) gloves and keep your hands where we can see them. 

The foreword alludes to a 1955 "fifth edition" in which the recipes all appeared in the handwriting of their contributors. If anyone finds this in the know what to do.

Bonus: Lady Bird Johnson, who assembled the book, solicited ADVERTISERS for the back matter. We have to wonder how Nancy Reagan, who coordinated our beloved 1982 edition, missed an easy opportunity to capitalize on...well, capitalism. 

Plus, the ads are great:

"You'd think a woman did it." 
The ad copy is so confusing, Liz isn't sure whether she should feel complimented or offended.

That's the '60s for you, Dollface. 

NEW EXPERIMENT coming at you later this week! Gird your stomachs for the Velveetateen pleasures of "HANKY PANKIES." If you missed our most recent post, you can check it out here


Experiment #13: Tri-Level Salad

Look, let's get one thing straight right off the bat: we followed the recipe exactly. 

When the recipe told us to reserve "1/2 of the mixture," we used a gotdang kitchen scale and divided that sucker to the tenth of a gram. When it told us we only needed 3 ounces of cream cheese we laughed nervously—then plunged ahead like champions. 

What happened here today is not our fault.

Today's edition of "what? why?" comes to us courtesy of Marilyn Burnside Weaver, who impressed the ladies of the 1982 Congressional Club with her "Tri-Level Salad."

We know what you're thinking: a salad! surely, finally, this time, we might encounter a vegetable. 

(Don't worry. We're not making this in The Harbinger.
He just hangs out in the kitchen, reflecting our shame like a cursed funhouse mirror.)
Marilyn was the enterprising daughter of Maurice G. "Burnie" Burnside, a political science professor and manager of a TRI-STATE TOBACCO WAREHOUSE (but who isn't?) who briefly represented West Virginia's fourth congressional district. Burn Unit served a single term before losing his re-election campaign to Republican Will E. "Say it Fast" Neal. Four years later, Burnside ran again, and unseated Slick Will-E.

Burnie was flying high...until four years later, when Will-E-Coyote re-entered the arena and reclaimed the seat again

Dr. Burnside (D-WV). The "D" stands for "Definitely not a serial killer."
Once that round of legislative musical chairs was resolved in favor of the West Virginian GOP (official state motto: "We Forgot We Fought for the Union"), Mr. Burns settled into a cozy appointment at the Department of Defense. least, that's what we were initially led to believe. There's less information on the internet about this guy than most newborns. All of the official-ish biographies we consulted say he "worked briefly" at the NSA.

This is an understatement. It was only by trawling through digitized transcripts of old Congressional proceedings that we learned the ~*~#truth~*~

Almost as soon as SideBurns was appointed, GOP loyalists began petitioning Eisenhower to drop the Doc. While Burnie was spending five weeks training and racking up security clearances like fruit in an arcade game, the GOP was launching a campaign to keep him from taking office. He was sworn in on March 13, 1953.

He was fired on March 26, 1953. That's right, folks: he lasted a whole 1.3 Mooches.

[nb: the "Mooch" is a measure of time named for the 10-day blitzkrieg tenure of former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, RIP].

Congressional records of the time suggest political pressure was the one and only reason.

Burnie's statement to the press upon his dismissal: "I was removed from a purely technical Federal civil-service post without regard to due process of merit and solely to obey the whims and demands of Republican party leaders of West Virginia...What has happened to me of itself is not important. But it is a very shocking thing to realize that high Government officials have permitted petty Republican politicians of West Virginia to invade the work of one of the most secret and important, if not the most important, section of our defense program."


*coughs in Russian*

Step 1. Stare longingly at some romaine, then buy candy. 
vegetal level: no 
NO CANS this week! It's a miracle! Instead, we've got your five basic food groups: Lemon Jell-O, applesauce, Red Hots (technically, these are Legally Distinct Cinnamon Imperials), and cream cheese. There's a cup of water hanging out in the background. That's all, folks. 

Step 2. Make Red Hot soup
Cinnamon imperialism.
Like all good salads, this one starts with hot corn syrup. 

Drop 1/4 cup of perfectly good Red Hots into a cup of simmering water. Boil until the evidence dissolves and all that remains is a thin red syrup. 


Step 3. Make cinnamon applesauce
The life-changing magic of scratch cooking. 
We know what you're thinking: why not just start with cinnamon applesauce? 

But would cinnamon applesauce have the unsettling crimson hue of a pine marten feasting on a piping-hot vole?

You only get that with Red #40, baby.

Honestly, this smelled pretty good while it was simmering. At a restaurant, this dish would cost $16 and be listed as "first-press apple compote. horse marrow. cinnamon bonbon gelée."

Step 4: Chill inadequately 
We weighed this out to make sure it was exactly half because we care deeply about our CRAFT. 
Burns-y Baby asks you to pour half of the Candy Sluice into a 9x9 pan, then chill for an hour.

Again, we'd like to remind you: we followed this recipe exactly according to the instructions. 

Step 5: Spread solid cheese on a pile of wet mulp  

Truly heroic spreading.
You know how when you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you spread the peanut butter on the jelly? Us neither.

An hour in the fridge, and this thing was nowhere near set. Just thinking about daubing it with a bit of cream cheese made the First Layer ripple angrily in warning. We suspect it could sense our fear.

Marilyn specified that the cream cheese should be "softened," so we had let the block sit at room temperature while the dish was chilling. But after an hour on the counter, there was less chance of spreading that cream cheese on the barely set applegel than stuffing a live eel into a toilet paper roll.

Liz had to microwave the cream cheese to get it anywhere close to soft enough to spread without ripping the bottom layer to shreds.

But then it worked great and everything turned out perfect. The Second Layer was a breeze. Liz excelled at her task and will be taking no questions.

…look, there are some lessons to take away here. One is that 3 ounces of cream cheese is not enough to constitute anything close to a "layer." 

Another is that the verb "spread" necessarily implies at least one of your constituent parts is a solid. You cannot simply smoosh two non-Newtonian substances together and pray for "layers."

Step 6: Accept the futility of existence and continue on apace 
You can't always get what you want / But if you try sometimes / You just might find / Your Jello can BLEE-EEED. ♪
We went ahead with the rest of the instructions, but at this point, it was clear things had gone firmly off the rails. Marilyn doesn't give a chill-time for the final layer—just "refrigerate"—so we decided to play it safe and chill overnight. 

Step 7: Perform psychoanalysis with Rorschach salad   

Good news: after a night in the fridge, the top was indeed set!

Bad news: the visual effect is less "tri-layer salad" than "inkblot test preserved in the blood of innocents."

The other bad news: the bottom layer never set. The texture remained—to quote the late, moist Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia—"pure applesauce."

You can sort of see the layers, though. 

Sheen level: Michael 
We gripe about Atomic Age "Boxes and Bags" Cuisine a lot here on the Congressional Clog, but this didn't taste bad. It's hard to rant too much about what is basically cinnamon applesauce topped with pilly hills of cream cheese and blanketed with a toupee of vaguely firm gelatin. If the gelatin layers were a bit thicker and firmer—and the cream cheese layer didn't look like a congealed slurry of suntan lotion—we can imagine encountering this at an Easter dinner in Iowa. 

Tom described it as "a symphony of flavors, if the symphony had two instruments, both of which were played by amateurs."

Hey, it's no "symphony of beef."

But we've had worse salads.

Tri-Level Salad
By Mrs. George Arthur (Marilyn Burnside) Weaver
Adapated from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book
1/4 cup cinnamon red hots
1 cup water
1 pg. lemon Jello
1 cup applesauce
1 3 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
2 cans Hamm's

Melt red hots in 1 cup boiling water. Add Jello and applesauce. Pour 1/2 mixture into 9x9 pan and refrigerate 1 hour. Spread softened cream cheese on top and refrigerate 1 hour again. Drink Hamm's. Pour the rest of the mixture on top of the cream cheese. Pour Jello over spoon to break fall. Refrigerate. Makes 8 servings.