WHIDBEY RECIPES: Check back in four years

On the last Friday of October, 2004, four years ago,

I wrote the following, as part of a post-election column:

It’s a very strange thing to be sitting here at my computer on the last Friday of October, working on next Wednesday’s column. At this point in time, we haven’t a clue who he is, yet by the time you’re reading this, it will be a done deal and we’ll have a brand-new president.

So, happy post-election day, friends, and best wishes, President WhoeverYouAre. I hope you woke up this morning fully aware that it’s now time to put up or shut up, fish or cut bait, put your money where your mouth was and get us back on track to being Americans, not partisans. Enough with the squabbling, back-stabbing, name-calling, pie-crust promises (easily made, easily broken) and petty finger-pointing.

In case you haven’t heard, we’re a nation of jaded, mistrustful, fed-up people who want nothing more than to get on with our lives without worrying whether our government is either screwing us or getting us into some untenable world mess.

We’d like to believe, Mr. President, that we can, in fact, trust you to go on about OUR business with OUR best interests ever in mind. Remember, you are all there, Democrat and Republican alike, to do what WE the people want and need, so that we in turn can go on with our daily business without that nagging feeling that we can’t trust you, that you must be watched and monitored because we can’t be sure you’re doing what’s best for us at any given time.

That’s one helluva way to run a country, as someone once said.

We want, in short, Mr. President, something that is probably unattainable but that you promised, over and over again. We want a government that works for “U.S.,” that isn’t some behemoth juggernaut running amok with our money and unmindful of the millions in this country that are undereducated, under-skilled, under-insured and over-taxed. We want to hold up our heads and be very proud to be American, and we want to be able to believe, wherever we may go, that we are citizens of the finest, strongest, most honorable country in the world. We want never to feel we must apologize for our country or its leaders.

We want to feel safe in our homes and in our country, and we’d like to think we don’t have to fear our own government, let along foreign gangsters.

We don’t consider this too much to ask and, after all, you promised all of this and more.

So, head’s up, pay attention, Mr. President WhoeverYouAre! Today is the first day of the rest of our lives together and we expect a lot of you because you’ve led us to believe you can do it. Just keep in mind, please, that we are exactly what you’ve called us so many times, your “fellow Americans,” and we are presently in a mood to hold your feet to the fire.

Four years later, here I sit at my computer, reading my own words and mad as a wet hen because I realize that, once again, we have been led down the proverbial garden path and let down, way down, by people we trusted and put in power four years ago in the hope they would make us a better, stronger country in what was then, and still is, a very unstable, unfriendly world.

Instead, we find ourselves at perhaps the lowest point we’ve been in more than 75 years, literally and morally bankrupt, with many thousands worse off than we ever imagined possible.

I consider myself generally to be an optimist, but right now, Mr. President, I am about as pessimistic as I’ve ever been about the future of this country and, frankly, I owe it all to the past four or five presidents, none of whom came through with what they promised.

I find it hard to come up with even one good reason to believe you’ll do any better, and it matters not whether your name is Obama or McCain.

You have four years to give us a reason to believe again, Mr. President WhoeverYouAre. I would like to write, four years from now, that this nation underwent a major change during your first term in office and that we are, finally, better off than we were.

Good luck; you’re going to need it.

RECIPES

I have a very old cookbook containing 50 recipes contributed by Congressmen/women in office during the ’50s, one recipe from each state. Some are timeless, and delicious. And because it’s that time of year, here’s one for the venison you may have in your freezer now.

MICHIGAN VENISON STEW

2 lbs. venison stew meat

2 cups boiling water

1 t. lemon juice

½ t. Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic

1 onion, sliced

1 bay leaf

1 t. salt, or to taste

¼ t. paprika

Dash each of allspice and cloves

1 t. sugar

3 carrots

2 potatoes, quartered

6 small white onions

In a Dutch or heavy kettle, brown the meat pieces. When lightly browned, add the boiling water, lower the heat to simmer and stir the pieces to prevent sticking. Then add the next nine ingredients through the 1 t. sugar.

Cover pot and simmer gently for 2 hrs., adding more water if necessary.

Add carrots, potatoes and onions and simmer 25 to 30 min. more, or until vegetables are tender. Remove meat and vegetables and keep warm while you make gravy.

Make gravy as follows: To 2 T. flour, add enough water to make a smooth paste, then add 1 cup of water. Stir mixture into the stew liquid and cook 10 min., stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Return meat and vegetables to the gravy and serve.

Note: I usually add about 2-3 T. of dry sherry to the gravy.

And, again because it’s that time of year, here’s a recipe from a Congressperson from Indiana, for a moist, delicious apple cake. Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

HOOSIER APPLE CAKE

1½ cups sugar

½ cup shortening or butter

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

½ t. salt

1½ cups flour

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. baking soda

1 t. baking powder

4 cups coarsely chopped apples

½ cup nuts of choice

1½ cups brown sugar

¼ lb. butter

Blend sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and salt in a bowl.

Sift together the flour, spices, baking soda and baking powder; stir into the egg mixture, mixing well. Add apples and coarsely chopped nuts. Pour batter into a well-greased 9 x 12 baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 min.

While cake is baking, mix together the butter and brown sugar. Remove cake from oven; top with the butter/brown sugar mixture and return to oven for

25 min. more. Serves 12.

And, from this recipe book, some food for thought from a speech made before Congress: “It is too bad that future generations cannot be here at this time to see the magnificent things we are doing with their money.”

Margaret Walton can be reached at falwalcal@msn.com.

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