Friday, January 7, 2011

The Congressional Club Cookbook 1963

A cookbook that includes either interesting back stories about the recipes, or combines history with cooking is always my favorite read. So, imagine how thrilled I was to find that the distinguished group of ladies known as the "Congressional Club" in Washington, D. C. put together a cookbook starting as early as 1927. The club was chartered in 1908 by an act of Congress and is composed of wives and daughters of members of Congress, of the Cabinet, and of the Supreme Court, and is entirely self-supporting (at least back in 1963!) They have a long and colorful history that is as varied as the personalities of the Presidents' wives of each administration. In this edition from 1963, Mrs. Kennedy hadn't been a widow very long and Mrs. Johnson, the First Lady, wrote the forward, which was customary. The president of the club always writes the preface, and this particular year, Mrs. John C. Kunkel from Pennsylvania served.

The original purpose of the Congressional Club was to help the spouses of members of Congress to get acquainted and adjust to life in the Capitol. In addition to their weekly teas(every Friday), the club hosts receptions honoring the President of the United States, the Vice-President, Speaker of the House and other notables. The social event that is most popular is the annual Spring Breakfast honoring the First Lady. In addition to social activities, members are offered French lessons, Spanish lessons, public speaking, flower arrangement, etc. I'm sure that with the changing times, and so many members of our present day Congress being women, this club has seen significant changes, but I'm hopeful that it still exists; I love the idea of having a tea every Friday! The only search info I have for this "National Treasure" is that it was published by The National Publishing Company in Washington, D.C. and the address of the Congressional Club: 2001 New Hampshire Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. H.R.22029.

Page 233 "The King of Meats"
Lady Bird Johnson, Wife of President of the United States (1963)

Select one whole fillet of beef. Remove all fat and wrap around with strips of bacon. Place meat in oven at 400 degrees and cook for 30 minutes. Use no seasoning (salt and pepper tend to toughen the meat and the bacon is sufficient seasoning).
If the guests are not quite ready (a familiar occurrence with unpredictable schedules) and the meat has cooked for 30 minutes, remove from oven and cover beef with a clean tea towel. Just before serving, place beef under the broiler until just browned on both sides; the bacon will become crisp.
Cut into 1" thick slices and put on platter as if whole. There will be a variety of "doneness" from rare to well-done. If further seasoning is desired, use some seasoned salt immediately before serving and after broiling.
To garnish, place a mound of steaming broiled mushrooms on one side of the meat, and place a mound of golden plump kumquats (cold) on the other side. Use parsley on top of meat. Serves 6-10 people, depending on the size of the filet.

Personal Note: ***Happy Birthday to "The King of Dads"!!***

I will be at these swaps today:


  1. That sounds delicious but there is just the two of us. Lovely recipe though.

  2. Love the recipe..but love the sounds of the cookbook!

  3. I can't tell you whether the club still exists -- though I suspect it does -- but it was still in existence and still publishing its cookbook when I worked on Capitol Hill in the 1990s.