Ann Romney learned to cook from watching her mother and her maternal grandmother in their kitchens.
“They set the standard pretty high,” Ann Romney said in an interview with the Deseret News. “But beyond that, it was the feelings that I had — the comfort and the security — that's what got into my bones as a young girl, and seeing how important it was to bring people to the table and to make those opportunities of sharing love and sharing friendship and sharing life at the table.”
Romney, wife of 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, began to keep a recipe file of her own. When her first son got married, she compiled a little cookbook of traditional recipes for her daughter-in-law.
Those recipes and the traditions around mealtimes and holidays became the basis for her book “The Romney Family Table: Sharing Home-Cooked Recipes and Favorite Traditions” (Shadow Mountain, $29.99), which is a part-memoir and part cookbook.
“There were so many stories involved with the importance of why you bring people to the table and what that really means,” Romney said. “It was a really fun project.”
The book also includes photos from the early days of their family, including Ann feeding Mitt wedding cake, and family photos from trips and meals when their boys were young; and more current photos of grandchildren with “Mamie” and “Papa.”
“There can be so much joy that can come from family. There can be so much joy that comes from good eating and bringing people to the table,” Romney said. “That is where memories are made and that’s where the joy in life is centered in the heart of the home.”
“The Romney Family Table” includes more than 125 recipes, including her husband’s favorite Meat Loaf Cakes that are served on his birthday, and traditional desserts that have been passed down from her mother and grandmothers. Others are from menus, meals and treats from holiday gatherings, and recipes for breads, soups, salads, main and side dishes, and desserts that are common in the Romney home.
“The recipes were the easy part,” she said of compiling the book.
As she and her family began to compile the recipes, including several from her daughters-in-law, there were many stories, traditions and photographs that Romney wanted to include, too.
“There’s nothing like making the heart of the home a place where people want to come to,” Romney added.
There were lessons other than cooking and baking learned and memories made in her family’s kitchen, too. As she raised her boys, the kitchen was not only a place for food preparation, but where her family gathered.
“I love having an open kitchen,” Romney said of both the layout and having people pull up a stool to talk while she’s cooking. And sometimes she’s the one joining others in the kitchen.
“It’s really fun for me to be in the kitchen with my daughters-in-law when they are cooking,” she added.
Romney also shares, at times humorously and tongue-in-cheek, stories of raising and feeding five energetic boys (and how she survived with her sanity intact as a young mom) along with how they celebrated holidays with a young family and now with a larger, growing family.
“It was never perfect,” Romney said of raising a family. “The boys misbehaved more than they behaved . As you see them mature and grow up and be parents themselves is when the rewards come.”
She would dress them in their Sunday clothes on Saturday night to make getting ready for church easier. She would also use the same philosophy on getting Sunday dinner ready so that it was a time to talk after church.
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