One of the many great things about living on Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill is that your neighbors often come from extremely interesting backgrounds. It’s a neighborhood where a box of books put out on the curb is something you always look through for hidden gems. It also means that the used book sales at our local library are often a trove of 25-cent treasures.
Being something of a cookbook collector, I never pass up the opportunity to expand my culinary library. Of particular interest are cookbooks from a different time, which tell a story about a particular community of cooks or illustrate culinary trends from a different era.
With this in mind, about two years ago I was fortunate enough to find the spiral bound cookbook “With our Compliments: A Feast of Favorite Recipes from JAG Families Around the World…” from a bargain bin at the Eastern Market branch of the DC Public Library. The book was compiled and published by the (now defunct) Women’s Club of the Judge Advocate General’s School, U.S. Army, Charlottesville, VA. It is a 416-page, wonderfully retro collection of over 900 recipes from families of the JAG Corps stationed across the world.
Beyond being a window into our not-so-distant culinary past (Jell-O salad, anyone?), what is most striking about this book is the lovely sentiment of solidarity and family expressed in its pages. The book opens with a dedication in the form of a quote by Henry David Thoreau, “Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” This book is a truly a heartfelt effort to overcome the strain of distance and strengthen a community of public servants across the world. For me, it’s also a reminder of the sacrifices made by military families and the warmth and support that food enjoyed with family and friends can provide.
Like any respectable cookbook, this volume contains a cocktails chapter. It opens with a recipe for JAG Rosé Punch. The frozen lime and lemonade aside, this recipe actually aligns with a few modern cocktail trends; rosé and punches are very much back in fashion.
JAG Rosé Punch – Dorene Lassiter
2 6-ounce cans concentrated frozen limeade
2 6-ounce cans concentrated frozen lemonade
1½ Quarts soda water
2 Bottles rosé wine
1 Cup cognac
1 Package frozen sliced strawberries
Combine frozen concentrates with cognac, add wine. Freeze strawberries in a frozen ice ring, although that’s optional. Add lime slices and soda water. If you don’t use the ice ring, chill with cubed ice. Serves 25. Four bowls will serve about 40 people for 2 hours, with added food (Ed. note: this is a quote from the recipe — best guess is that the author means this punch will last longer if people are served food). The soda water should not be added until just before serving.
So this weekend, (or week, if you’re still snowed in) raise a glass of JAG Rosé Punch in the name of service, sacrifice, and our military families. After all, it’s these communities of support that allow those who serve to carry out the toughest job there is.
P.S. If any readers know whether or not this cookbook is still published I’d be very interested to learn more. Also, is JAG Rosé Punch still enjoyed by our nation’s judge advocates?
James Sheehan is a homebrewer and cider-maker. He holds an MA in Terrorism, Security, and Society from King’s College London.
Image credit: Wellcome Images