While it’s easy to imagine Mamie Eisenhower baking a pumpkin chiffon pie, it’s hard to picture Nancy Reagan (or anyone else) slicing the ends off lemons, scooping out the contents, and filling the rinds with lemon sherbet. Recipes for those desserts are in Bob Wilson’s 20th Anniversary Cookbook, which I discovered while going through my late mother Dorothy’s cookbooks.
Wilson, who served in the House of Representatives from 1953 to 1981, inscribed the book: “To Eleanor, my favorite fixer-upper.” He signed above an illustration of a GOP elephant wearing a sombrero. (Eleanor, my late grandmother, was a seamstress, not a political fixer-upper.)
The cookbook, published by the "Committee of 20,000 to Re-Elect Congressman Bob Wilson," is like a look back at politics in 1972, the year San Diego almost hosted the Republican National Convention. This was the eighth edition of the cookbook; recipes from Mamie and Nancy are from earlier editions. So are recipes from First Lady Pat Nixon (California Date Nut Bread) and Marge Klein (Cheesecake). Klein's husband, Herb, was Richard Nixon's communications director. Another recipe redux was Barbara Parma’s Ice Cream Pie. Her husband, Leon, chaired the committee preparing to bid for the convention.
New cookbook entries included the Baked Ham with Beer recipe from San Diego mayor Pete Wilson’s wife Betty. Also new was the Hot Milk Sponge Cake recipe from Vice President Spiro Agnew’s wife, Judy. In 1972, Ronald Reagan was California’s governor, and Congressman Wilson described Nancy’s dessert “as cool and delicious as she is.”