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Recipe for a Book: Eisenhower’s Cooking

July 10, 1990 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Next to the cover page of this book is a photograph of President Eisenhower’s five-star tie with a stain circled and a note informing inquiring readers what the stain is.

The stain came from Ike’s vegetable soup - and the recipe can be found on page 40 of this oversized 118-page volume.

″Ike the Cook,″ by Edward and Candace Russoli, includes 32 recipes by the nation’s 34th president, and many anecdotes about his culinary skills, which apparently were considerable.

It also has 172 photographs, including many with Eisenhower donning an apron or eating some of his own creations.

From a young Kansan cooking squirrel during a camp out, to an Army officer who believed food was part of a soldier’s paycheck and finally to a kitchen- wise president, the Russolis tell the story of Eisenhower’ life - through food.

Ed Russoli admits it is a novel approach to a presidential biography.

″We’re using food as a vehicle throughout the book,″ he said in a telephone interview.

Russoli is himself a gourmet cook and one-time owner of an Italian restaurant in his native Allentown, Pa.

The recipes in the book came from Secret Service agents who guarded Eisenhower, Columbia University in New York - where Eisenhower briefly served as president - and from the Eisenhower Library in Abilene.

In fact, Eisenhower’s recipe for homemade vegetable soup created quite a stir when it was published in a 1948 campus cookbook at Columbia University while Eisenhower was president.

″He later said he got more reaction from his recipe for vegetable soup than anything else he said while president of Columbia,″ Russoli said.

The ″secret ingredient″ in Eisenhower’s recipe was adding about a tablespoon of nasturtium stems to the soup, the authors say.

The book is being published this year in conjunction with the 100th anniverary of Eisenhower’s birth.

The dinner tables of presidents also prompted last year’s ″The White House Family Cookbook,″ written by Henry Haller, executive chef at the White House for five first families, and Virginia Aronson.

It tells such tid-bits as what President Nixon ate for his final White House breakfast (poached egg and hash), how the Fords scrimped to help fight inflation (no first courses and few desserts), and the recipe for the ″monkey bread″ the Reagans eat at holidays.


The Eisenhower book gives a curious reader a look at the president’s palate. For example, Eisenhower was a firm believer in the values of red meat, and he believed that it prevented stomach trouble.

″His diet called for beef every day, and when on vacation he revealed that he might eat it 12 times a week because he loved having little breakfast steaks,″ Russoli said. ″Steak in general was on Ike’s top 10 list.″

The president also liked to grill 3-inch steaks by placing them directly on white-hot coals.

Russoli said he began researching the book in 1986 while working on yet on another volume - this one about Republican presidents and their dietary habits.

That book, called ″Grand Old Party Fare″ includes hundreds of the favorite recipes of 17 Republican presidents and seven GOP also-rans. That book will be completed soon, Russoli said.

The recipes in the book vary from the basic Kansas ″Squirrel Stew with Leftovers″ to ″Sergeant Moaney’s Ontario Northland Railway Roast Wild Goose,″ a recipe fit for White House receptions.

And there’s also the World War II favorite, ″In-a-Pinch Baked Beans.″

Ike’s interest in cooking was a godsend to White House reporters, the book says.

″Kids and pets in the White House were always good copy, but a cooking president was sensational,″ the Russolis wrote. ″Quotes like ‘I mix my batter at night and let it stand until morning’ perked up even the most blase veteran newsmen who were sure they had heard everything before.″