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Marla Romash Headshot

Just Desserts: Iowa Hogs Under the Knife

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I work mostly with butter and sugar, eggs and flour. I'm a Pastry Chef. (Stay with me, this has a sweet ending.) When I pick up a knife, it's usually to chop chocolate. So a candidate who claims castrating hogs qualifies her for Congress, is not exactly my kind of candidate. Maybe that's why I don't live in Iowa. But what about the people who do?

Google "castrating hogs ad" and you'll see why I looked up from the mixer. Joni Ernst is a Republican running for the U.S. Senate from Iowa. She starts her first 30-second television commercial with this boast: "I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm."

There's Joni Ernst standing in what I think is a hog barn (I grew up in Long Island, so I'm no expert). She's perfectly coiffed, in a perfect on-the-farm plaid shirt and vest. Her lipstick threw me. I didn't think you'd castrate hogs wearing lipstick.

Of course the hog-castrating is a metaphor for cutting "pork" in Washington (get it?) And, the ad goes on to tell me she's a "mother, soldier, conservative," in that order. Her line attacking Obamacare comes over a shot of two adorable piglets (NO! Joni! Don't touch them!!)

That was her first ad. In her second, Joni's giving Harley-Davidson motorcycles a bad name.

Now, she's wearing a black leather jacket and motorcycle boots, and swinging her leg off a Harley. The announcer says she's a "mom, farm girl, and Lt Colonel who carries more than lipstick (there it is again!) in her purse." She carries a gun. She rode that motorcycle to a shooting range where she literally takes aim and fires a few rounds at Obamacare. Well, she's shooting at a target, but the announcer tells us it's Obamacare.

"Give me a shot," she implores at the end.

OMG, I'm thinking, not sure which is more terrifying: putting her in the Senate or giving her a weapon.

The Washington Post says the pork ad "transformed her candidacy" and now she's closing in on her main Republican opponent, Marc Jacobs, who's been leading in the run up to the June 3rd primary.

Genius? We'll know June 3rd. Mostly, I'm horrified. Not because I disagree with her on the issues (I do), but because voters could be lured to vote based on simple-minded, if memorable, gimmicks. Well, it wouldn't be the first time.

I'm going back to the kitchen to make some Ranger cookies in Joni's honor. It's Laura Bush's recipe (really) and it's full of nuts. Here's the recipe, so you can make them too. Beats castrating hogs.

(See, I told you this has a sweet ending.)

Laura Bush's Ranger Cookies

3 c All Purpose Flour
1 T Baking Powder
1 T Baking Soda
1 T Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Salt
12 oz Butter (Room Temperature) (That's 3 sticks)
1 1/2 c Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 c Packed Light Brown Sugar
3 eggs Large
1 T Vanilla
3 c Semisweet Chocolate Chips
3 c Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
2 c Sweetened Flake Coconut
2 c Chopped Pecans (8 oz.)

-Heat oven to 350 degrees.
-Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl
-In electric mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in sugars and combine thoroughly.
-Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in vanilla.
-Stir in flour mixture until just combined.
-Stir in chocolate chips, oats, coconut, and pecans.
-Drop by tablespoon scoops onto ungreased baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
-Bake until edges are lightly browned, about 8 minutes -- watch em! (Rotate sheets half way through)
-Remove cookies to rack to cool.

Makes about 5 dozen