Into every campaign a little fun must fall. A little lightness; a smidgeon of the insubstantial; a touch of fluff.
This is why we find Henry Howell's people singing a ditty about VEPCO to the tune of "Jesus Loves Me." This is why there are campaign buttons and bumper stickers; why Republican lieutenant governor candidate Joe Canada calls his fundraisers "skinny cat" parties (it's the opposite of fat cat - get it)? And this is why the Republicans find themselves with an unpredicted bestseller on their hands - "Our Favorite Recipes" by Mrs. John Dalton.
Dalton's press secretary, Richard Lobb, says the 14-page, full-color booklet is a "real popular item" and that people and clubs from all over the state have written in for copies. He himself had one autographed by Mrs. Dalton and sent it to his mother in Falls Church.
Edwina (Eddy) Dalton, who is described in the opening page of the cook book as one who "has become known for her hospitality, for the cakes and other toothsome treats she regularly takes to various gatherings," has given away "thousands."
"John's Favorite Louisiana Pound Cake" is just one of the family recipes in the book. (John doesn't make it, he just eats it). There are also recipes for "Rocks," a cookie that "John's father, 'Big Ted' loves" and that his daughter kathy bakes every year at Christmas; "Eddy's Precious Pie," "Big Mary's Apples" (Big Mary is Dalton's mother); "Kathy's Ginger Cookies," "Uncle Connie's Dried Beef Dip (A life saver if you are short of time!"), and "Cousin Mary Sue's Five Cup Salad."
There are also recipes with a Virginia accent: "Marrinated Mushrooms - A Touch of France in Tappahannock;" "Isle of Wight Punch" (a non-alcoholic blend of kool-aid, orange juice, pineapple juice and ginger ale); "Glorified Zucchini Leesburg," "Virginia Peanut Soup," and "Virginia Apple Cake" (Virginia apples required.)
The recipes are occasionally interespered with a personal note. "Mr. Frost's Apple Nut Cake," for example, was "a favorite cake at Kazim Shrine Temple while John was Potentate. My brother's favorite cake." There are color photos of the family as well, including one of Dalton in a red sport shirt next to a grill, with the caption "when it's over-the-fire cooking, John is the guy at the grill."
And in case you need something to read while waiting for the jelly to jell or the cake to bake, there's a page of copy extolling John Dalton's qualities for leadership and his plans if he is elected governor.
The Democrats have teased Dalton for distributing the cookbooks. "They've been giving out recipe books, and we've been talking about putting meat and potatoes on Virginians' tables," Howell said.
True to form, the Republicans reacted to Howell's comment humorlessly, reprinting the quote in a list of others they said contributed to Dalton's decision to cancel all joint appearances with Howell. Canada described the remarks as "an attack on Mrs. Dalton's cookbook," which he called a "new low in Henry's campaign."
But less you think this cookbook is just too corny, that it perpetuates the idea of the candidate's wife as a cookie-pushing airhead, or that it's an example of sexist stereotyping, don't forget that recipes from this cookbook have been reprinted in newspapers all over the state.
Not only have thousands been given away - and unlike a campaign brochure this cook book is something a person is likely to keep - but thousands more have been sent to people who write in for them. Republican women's clubs and churches hold luncheons featuring dishes from the book, and the cookbooks cost only a little more than a bumper sticker to produce.
Here is one recipe from Mrs. Dalton's collection: Cousin Doc's Virginia Pie 1 cup milk 3 eggs (beaten) 2 cup sugar 1 t. vanilla 1 t. nutmegs 3 T. flour 1 stick melted butter
Mixed all together. Pour into two unbaked pie shells. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.