Edwards' Clever Thanksgiving Donation Request

I just received an e-mail from the John Edwards campaign, written by John's mother Bobbi. It's very clever -- on two levels. She writes:

As a member of our campaign family, If you donate just $20.08 (for the year we'll elect my son the next president of the United States!), I'll send you Elizabeth's recipe for bread pudding, David and Judy Bonior's recipes for "Sweet Potatoes with Apples" and "Mushroom Soup," along with Joe and Kathy's recipe for "Old Fashioned Down on the Farm Country Stuffing" -- and my own special recipe for one of John's favorites, Mac n' Cheese! Click here to make a contribution and get five favorite Thanksgiving recipes!

Level one: You get something back for your donation -- that's a great selection of "comfort food" recipes and it gives you a homey, warm feeling just reading the list: Mac 'n Cheese, sweet potatoes, bread pudding.

Level two: While I have no data on this, I suspect that it's mostly women who are in charge of the family thanksgiving day menu and interested in holiday recipes. By offering the recipes, it seems like Edwards is targeting women voters, trying to take some from Hillary.

I've put a short poll below as to who chooses the Thanksgiving day recipes (not the menu)in your house:

< Tancredo Catches Heat Over "One Language" Speech | Mike Tyson Sentenced to One Day on Coke, DUI Charge >


Who Chooses theThanksgiving Meal Recipes at Your House?
Male 11%
Female 55%
Both 33%

Votes: 18
Results | Other Polls
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    At scribe's dinner, (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 12:15:27 PM EST
    the menu is pretty much fixed from year to year, regardless of where the dinner is to be held or who's cooking.  Even the recipes are pretty solid:

    Turkey - roasted, with filling.  No brining, marinades, deep-frying, braising, deboning, turning into a turducken, or other fancinesses.
    Filling - so called, because it is.  Where scribe comes from, we don't call it "stuffing" (chairs have stuffing) or "dressing" (It's cold outside, and we're already dressed.).  It's a secret derivation from a regional recipe all have memorized and is made from scratch.  No boxes or bags here.  It starts with bacon, though, and it's based on torn bread, not rice, cornbread, wild rice, or any of the other strangenesses.  The big debate is often over whether to include the turkey's liver and heart or not.  I'm almost always in favor.
    Sweet potatoes - from the can, with carefully-caramelized sugar (start with a pile of granulated sugar in a frying pan over medium heat.  Melt and carmelize, but avoid igniting it.) as the base for an orange sauce (real oranges used), but never marshmallows.  The big option here:  raisins or no?
    Mashed potatoes - real potatoes, mashed with butter and milk and a little pepper
    Green salad - usually iceberg and bitter fall lettuces and plain oil and vinegar
    Cranberry sauce - carefully extracted from the can so as to preserve the ridges the can leaves and presented upright, so all can admire the can-opener's skill.
    Turkey gravy - made with real roux, pan drippings and broth from cooking the turkey neck.
    Vegetables.  Here's where the debate can begin.  Sometimes it's green beans.  Sometimes, brussels sprouts.  Sometimes corn.  Sometimes (too rarely for me) it's frozen lima beans.  Since the veggies are usually an afterthought, no one gets too agitated about the choice, and sometimes we have a couple.
    Dessert - pumpkin pie, without whipped cream or similar goop, is a given.  Coconut custard pie, also a big hit, has been gaining in popularity in recent years.  Apple pie is often an afterthought, but nonetheless welcome.
    Sometimes wine - usually a white.

    The nicest part of having a pretty-fixed menu is that there's little room for a fight to start.  It's like wetting down the tinder-dry field before parking in the grass.  If enough people keep their attention on the food, weather, football game and dog and off politics, family jealousies and old wounds until they pass out from tryptophan, open warfare can be easily avoided.

    scribe, (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 01:18:48 PM EST
    stuffing is what you put in something, hence a "stuffed" bird. for that matter, after the feast, stuffed people. :)

    no oysters in the stuffing? gad, what uncivilized part of the country do you live in?

    white, granulated sugar on sweet potatoes? who taught you how to make candied yams? geez, everyone knows you use brown sugar, and top them off with marshmallows. by the way, a bit of food trivia: only sweet potatoes grown in louisiana can legally be called "yams". same tuber, different name. why? i haven't a clue.

    you left out the ham. what kind of thanksgiving dinner would it be without va baked ham? oh, you're probably one of those that thinks the first thanksgiving was in plymouth, in 1621. not so my friend, it was at berkeley plantation, in 1619. why'd they wait so long? they were good virginians, they didn't want to be hasty.

    i like the coconut custard pie idea. we usually have pecan, which i find beyond sweet. but, i think it's a federal law requiring cool whip on the pumpkin pie. i'll have to look into that.

    aren't candied yams a vegetable? we usually have french-cut green beans & sweet corn, mixed. tastes a lot better than it sounds, really!

    plus the assorted condiments.

    the rule is, you can't start eating until everything's been passed around. as a result, plates have been known to end up with bite marks, given the fairly large number of assorted family & friends usually in attendance.

    the unspoken rule is: no discussion of politics or religion. kind of weird, when you consider the origins of the holiday.

    El Paso, 1598... (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by desertswine on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 02:23:06 PM EST
          El Pasoans will claim that the first Thanksgiving Day in the United States did not occur in Plymouth Rock., Mass., as is commonly believed. According to documented Spanish historical records, the first Thanksgiving day is supposed to have occurred in El Paso del Norte,(Pass of the North) right by the river banks in 1598, years before the first Anglo Saxon Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth Rock.

    Calvin Trillen says that first Thanksgiving at (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 02:25:27 PM EST
    Plymouth couldn't have tasted very good.

    white granulated sugar (none / 0) (#12)
    by scribe on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 03:11:59 PM EST
    is the basis from which caramel comes, whence comes the caramel-orange sauce on the sweet potatoes.

    For those who don't know how or choose not to, to make caramel one puts a pile* of white granulated sugar into the saucepan and then applies heat (and stirs with a spatula - I prefer a wooden one).  After a few minutes, the sugar first begins to get clumpy, then melts into ... well, a clear liquid which is molten sugar.  The continued application of heat gradually browns this molten sugar into caramel.  Hence, the term, "caramelization".  

    One needs to be careful making caramel.  (But, what good is cooking if you can't risk burning down the house?)  Depending upon all the things which things depend upon, the caramelizing reaction can go very quickly from clear liquid to black and smoking ruin (burnt sugar), which isn't very appetizing and stinks up the house, too.  (The only not-bad thing about burning it is that caramel, being mostly sugar even when burnt, cleans up with plain water but only once the pan cools.) Thus, the cook needs the liquid handy to halt the burn and convert caramel into caramel sauce, but should not add any more than absolutely necessary as nasty steam explosions can result if too much liquid is added too quickly to hot caramel.  A steam explosion in caramel is made even more entertaining by hot splashes of 250 or so degree (F) molten caramel flying in all directions,landing on exposed skin and, being sticky, sticking there.

    All this, I can assure you, I have learned the "hard" way.

    But, if one pulls it off, IMHO, there is no better way to serve sweet potatoes.  And, forget the marshmallows.  

    As to the ham - I concur wholeheartedly, but usually the crowd at scribe's place is smallish and, therefore, putting out both a ham and a turkey is a little much.  My dad used to cure and smoke his own hams (and sausage and pork loins)(I've hand-chipped a lot of apple wood and fed a lot of smoking fires...), so we didn't want to miss the pleasures of those by swamping them amid all the rest of a T'Day feast.  They got pride of place on Christmas or New Years'.

    And, (a) it's filling, not stuffing and (b) no oysters.  But, there will be pureed chestnuts as a side again this year.  Which reminds me, I gotta go to the market and buy some chestnuts today, before I forget and before I travel.

    * about one handful, for a family-of 6 to 8 sized can of sweet potatoes.  This is really precise work....


    The highlight for me.... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 01:40:26 PM EST
    is the Lebanese food...homemade grape leaves, baked kibby, raw kibby, and tabouli.  I gotta give moms a lot of props, she took the time to learn the recipes from my paternal grandma, and she isn't even Lebanese and doesn't care for cooking very much.

    It helps to remind me to give thanks to my ancestors for making the long hard journey
    to America, for a better life for me and my generation.  I knows I owes...

    Aside from the food, the annual Turkey Bowl football game Thankgiving morning is always a barrel of laughs.  Last year was downpouring rain, this year I'm rooting for snow.  

    Should Edwards, the populist, be touting (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 01:40:31 PM EST
    Macaroni and Cheese recipes?  Not so good for the arteries.  

    Who wants to live forever??? (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 01:47:46 PM EST
    My motto is if it tastes good, clog away:)

    Edwards the populist should be ashamed of asking for 20 bucks...any donation, even a dollar, should get you the recipes.


    at the moment, I'd love to live forever. That (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 01:49:48 PM EST
    could change though.

    Live Forever (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 01:52:46 PM EST
    It all depends on what you mean by live, and what you mean by forever

    I'm telling all my loved ones.... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 02:04:09 PM EST
    to do me the same courtesy they would do their dog...when I can't climb the stairs or handle my own bathroom duties, please put me down:)

    So true; healthy and solvent at present. (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 02:07:17 PM EST