Is honesty really the best policy? |

Is honesty really the best policy?

Meredith Carroll
Aspen, CO Colorado

With the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees all but certain at long last, Family Circle magazine has launched its fifth annual Presidential Cookie Bake-Off, in which readers are asked to vote for their favorite recipe submitted by the candidates’ wives. Besides the affections of taste buds everywhere, winners of the previous four contests have also won what some believe to be an even greater prize ” a spot next to her husband in the White House, making the outcome of the cookie contest even more significant.

As such, a collective gasp was heard by mortified Republicans from coast to coast this week when it was discovered that the wife of their party’s presumptive nominee, Cindy McCain, had plagiarized her recipe for oatmeal-butterscotch cookies (the same ones she had claimed were an “absolute must” at family gatherings) from the Hershey’s website. The incident marks the second time this year that Mrs. McCain passed off a stolen recipe as her own (a passion-fruit mousse recipe she had posted on her husband’s campaign website was apparently cut and pasted directly from the Food Network site).

But not to be outdone in the kitchen, or anywhere else, by the spouse of the presumptive Democratic nominee, Michelle Obama (whose own shortbread cookie recipe has yet to be protested by Mrs. Field’s, Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines, and who appears on the cover of the current issue of Us Weekly), Cindy McCain sat down for an interview that will be printed in next month’s Good Housekeeping to offer a more intimate look at her life than anything a recipe or a glossy tabloid could ever reveal.

She says despite her cookie and mousse faux pas, she really is a fabulous cook. Her best, most original dish starts with two all-beef patties, which she insists always come from 100-percent domestic cows (“I won’t serve an animal that wasn’t proud to be slaughtered on American soil by an American,” she said).

The next step is the addition of her special sauce, the ingredients of which her family and friends have been begging her to divulge for years. “I always tell them I’ll take it with me to the grave,” Mrs. McCain laughs.

On top of the beef, she places a layer of crisp iceberg lettuce, followed by cheese, pickles and onions.

“Pile it all onto a sesame-seed bun, and you’ve got instant smiles at the dinner table. Mmmm, mmmm,” Mrs. McCain said, patting her pale-pink cashmere sweater-set over her taut stomach.

While it has often been reported that Arizona Senator John McCain and his current wife met at a military reception in Hawaii, Mrs. McCain reveals exclusively to Good Housekeeping that, in fact, she was a single mom, raising three young girls, when she and her future first husband had their initial encounter. All of her daughters had hair of gold, just like her, though the youngest one got a perm that resulted in curls, setting her apart from her siblings and mom and their pin-straight hair.

At the same time, Senator McCain was busy with three boys of his own. They were four men, living all together. “Yet in some ways, it was as if they were all alone,” Mrs. McCain said, her eyes welling up. As such, she said she’ll never forget the day she met her fellow. She knew it was much more than a hunch that their groups would somehow form a family.

“And that’s the way we became the good ol’ McCain bunch,” she beamed, tears of happiness streaming down her perfectly rosy cheeks.

Mrs. McCain goes on in the interview to share that her favorite book is James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces,” which she calls “an astonishing account of addiction and survival.” She says it kindled in her the desire to write a memoir someday, but only if she can get acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to help.

“She’s so good with those kind of books, isn’t she,” Mrs. McCain said.

And besides her husband and President George W. Bush (“Everyone will forever admire his service in the Texas Air National Guard,” she remarks solemnly), she said her real hero is legendary marathoner Rosie Ruiz.

“A woman running all that way is just astonishing. Back when most women were probably too scared to even compete. What an inspiration for me and my daughters. To all women, really.”

The next issue of Good Housekeeping will be on newsstands in early July. The results of the Presidential Bake-Off will be released in the Nov. 1 issue of Family Circle.