Martha+Tom

Minnesota Gubernatorial Election 2010: Eat Your Candidates

It’s almost election day, a time for Americans to exercise the most basic mechanism of self-government by choosing our rulers. Nobody can have failed to notice that the stakes are high this year. Issues that once elicited some kind of consensus have become the source of bitter disagreements.

As a food blogger, I have a civic responsibility to ask tough questions about our candidates: what will our gubernatorial hopefuls do to ensure equitable access to healthy food in Minnesota’s public and non-public schools? What policies will they adopt to promote safe, sustainable agricultural practices that provide food for all Minnesotans? And, most importantly, if our candidates for governor could be any kind of breakfast food, what kind of breakfast food would they be?

Tom Emmer: Emmer Pancakes

The answer for Republican Tom Emmer is easy enough, since he happens to share his name with a variety of wheat, namely emmer. Emmer, if you are not familiar, is an ancient strain of wheat — one of the first ever cultivated. It was the wheat the Egyptians used for bread and beer and was the basis for the campaigning Roman soldier’s porridge. Although emmer (Triticum dicoccum) has been largely supplanted by more common bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) in the modern era, it is still grown throughout the world. Bluebird Grain Farms in Washington makes an excellent emmer pancake mix: just add milk, buttermilk, an egg and butter. The cakes cook up very hearty and rustic.

I suppose the following objection could be raised to emmer: emmer is a dinosaur, a relic of the past. Emmer was literally around during the Stone Age; what possible relevance could emmer have for modern-day Minnesotans?

Mark Dayton: Date Scones

Mark Dayton — or is that Date-un? — is helming the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party effort for governor, and if you couldn’t tell from the horrible pun a few words back I am relating him to dates, the fruit of the date palm. Since breakfast was the agreed upon theme, I made date scones:

  • 10 oz white flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsp butter, diced
  • 1 cup dried dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup cream
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 425ºF. In a food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, sugar and salt to combine. Add butter and dates and pulse until evenly distributed. Meanwhile, beat together cream and egg. Pour flour mixture into a medium bowl and fold in wet ingredients until just combined. Transfer to a floured board; form dough into rough square and cut into quarters. Cut each quarter in half to form triangles. Transfer dough to sheet pan and bake 15–20 minutes, until just browned.

If you’ve never had a date they are large, oblong and raisin-like in their dried form, which is what is commonly available. Some will complain that they are just way too rich for the average Minnesotan.

Tom Horner: Plum Cake

Independence Party candidate Tom Horner proved a bit of a spoiler since his name is not shared with a food-stuff nor does it lend itself to an easy pun. But Horner does bring to mind a familiar nursery rhyme:

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner
Eating his Christmas pie,
He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum
And said “What a good boy am I!”

It turns out this association may be quite apt: this website claims that the true Jack Horner was a steward named Thomas Horner whose “plum” was one of the deeds to twelve plum manor houses that he was supposed to deliver to King Henry VIII at the request of the Abbott of Glastonbury. Horner’s descendants deny the story.

Mysteries about who exactly “Horner” is notwithstanding, the real question is “what the hell is Christmas pie?” Approximately 45 seconds of Internet search revealed that Christmas pie is a lot of different things, though most generally a pie served around Christmastime. With Christmas still months away, making Christmas pie would clearly be impossible. Instead I settled something with plums in it, specifically the Rustic Plum Cake published in the July 2007 Cook’s Illustrated.

I won’t say which of these breakfasts I preferred — that choice is up to voters — but I hope you appreciate my contribution to the heightening of the political discourse. Don’t forget to vote Tuesday!

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One comment on “Minnesota Gubernatorial Election 2010: Eat Your Candidates”

  1. A Ann 1 November, 2010 at 9:10 am

    A good laugh! Thanks for lightening the political discourse.