This is my annual climb-on-the-soapbox column where I urge all readers to simultaneously eat well and do good.
I am trumpeting two causes. The first is RSVVP day which happens to be today. Today 265 restaurants in Maryland donate 10 percent of their gross receipts to the Maryland Food Committee. The committee in turn uses the money to issue grants to some 130 soup kitchens and food pantries throughout Maryland.
This is the sixth straight year for RSVVP, which was started by Gina Wilson when she was a waitress at Louie's Bookstore Cafe. Now she is director of development for the Maryland Food Committee.
The RSVVP name is a play on the abbreviation for the French phrase repondez s'il vous plait, meaning "please reply." The organizers threw in an extra "V" because "V" is also the Latin number for five. Therefore the two "V's" in RSVVP are supposed to remind us that 10 percent of the take goes to feed the hungry.
Put simply, RSVVP means "eat twice as much for a good cause." To participate, all you have to do is eat out, or order carryout, from one of the participating restaurants. (A list appeared on page 3C in yesterday's Sun.)
The second worthy cause I am pushing is The Salvation Army cookbook called "Incredible Edibles." It is a spiral cookbook compiled by the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary. The proceeds support various Salvation Army programs including an emergency center for homeless families.
Most of the recipes come from people who like to spend time in the kitchen cooking. The cookbook also has recipes from politicians. However, unlike most recipes from politicians, the ones in the Salvation Army cookbook strike me as believable.
Barbara Bush, for instance, has four recipes in the book: clam chowder, a taco-and-meat concoction called a Mexican Mound, an apple crisp with orange juice, and vegetable salad. I could see George Bush spooning down clam chowder, and leveling the Mexican Mound, and lapping up apple crisp. But after his recent anti-broccoli remarks, I had a hard time envisioning him going near a salad.
However, when I checked the vegetable salad recipe and saw it was broccoli-free, the cookbook's credibility was restored.
Similarly, when I saw my senator's recipe for cucumbers with dill and vinegar, not only did I believe it, I thought it would make a great campaign slogan. "Mikulski: A friend of vinegar."
And when I read how Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer makes cookies, I recognized his management style. To make "Schaefer's Wafers" he puts teaspoons of the cookie dough onto a baking sheet, sticks the sheet into a 350-degree oven, then counts to 10. Next he turns off the oven, and leaves the cookies to cook in the closed up oven for six hours.
According to what I have read, this is similar to how the governor runs a staff meeting. He closes the door, turns on the heat, and simmers for hours.
Another good reason to buy this Salvation Army cookbook is that
it has the recipe for the world's best banana nut cake. I happen to be a fanatic on the subject of banana nut cakes.
Until recently I held the position that best banana nut cake on the globe was made by Wilma Mangan of Dodge City, Kansas. When I was a kid, Wilma made a banana nut cake for me on my birthday. It was marvelous. I never forgot it. But Wilma did. When I called her up recently to ask her about that marvelous cake she had made some 30 years ago, she didn't remember the occasion or the recipe. Good-bye Wilma, hello Joyce McQuay.
Mrs. McQuay is a secretary for the Salvation Army. Her large banana nut cake, which was also sent to me, is history.
The cost of the Salvation Army cookbook is $7 per book, and can be ordered by sending a check, payable to Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary, to Mrs. Major David Jones, P.O. Pox 33308, Baltimore, Md. 21218.