Editor’s Note: With the national Conservative election for a new leader slated for next Saturday, Sept. 10th, and being broadcast on network TV starting at 7 p.m. Atlantic, here is the often rolled out election night fabulous treats.
MacPolitics: Election Night Nibbles
By Gary Brooks
For every election for more than 40 years—federal, provincial, municipal, and even the occasional international contest—I have been part of a changing group of political junkies who gather to argue, prognosticate, and analyze. Eventually, as the results pour in, we celebrate or sink into the proverbial slough of despond. And, of course, we munch on food appropriate to the occasion and enjoy our favourite beverage.
The tradition began in Antigonish, with an invitation to the home of Dr. Ron and Betty Johnson to watch the election results of the 1974 provincial election (won by Gerald Regan’s Liberals with 31 seats, compared to 12 for John Buchanan’s PCs and three for the NDP then led by Jeremy Akerman).
Ron, Betty, and I are all Mount Allison grads, and as a youthful faculty member I had taught Ron during his senior year at the Sackville, N.B., campus. He and I later became colleagues in the Department of Psychology at StFX in Antigonish.
The Johnsons entertain frequently. Betty is one of the finest cooks I know, and Ron’s wine cellar is exceptional in both its size and quality. To be invited to one of their formal dinners for 10 or 12 is a memorable experience. But their election night events were casual, and sometimes—with people of various political stripes among the guests—they verged on the raucous.
Although dramatically different than the fare usually served in the Johnson household, for that night in 1974 Betty prepared these snacks, a favourite from her childhood. They were so popular they became by general demand a central feature of all future election night gatherings.
Now that I have retired, these tasty treats have become the food of choice for similar gatherings my partner Angus Campbell and I attend each election night at the South End home of Halifax realtor Rick Foster. As usual, the group will be enjoying them as we watch the results of the National Tory leadership vote this coming Saturday.
While definitely down-market, these snacks—popular since the 1950s—have several key dietary ingredients (e.g., grease, salt, and xanthan gum) and are always popular, even among those with sophisticated palates.
For the most recent federal and civic elections, I made 10 per person, although I was instructed to increase the number for the upcoming election.
Election Night Cheese and Bacon Snacks
Some general suggestions
Do not be tempted to use anything other than sandwich bread; it doesn’t work! This is not the time for multi-grain bread from your favourite artisanal bakery.
In the 1960s in Ottawa, Angus’ mother sometimes used cheese slices in this recipe rather than Cheez Whiz.
You don’t have to partially precook the bacon, but it does reduce the fat significantly. If you do decide to precook the bacon, doing so in the oven will keep it flat.
These snacks may be assembled ahead and cooked just before serving.
2 ½ slices of white sandwich-bread per person (or more)
3 1/3 slices of bacon per person
Cheez Whiz (amount depends on number of people to be served)
diced bottled hot red pepper rings, to taste
1. Turn the oven on broil.
2.While the oven is heating, remove the crusts from bread and quarter each slice.
Place bread on a baking sheet and toast one side under the broiler, watching carefully to ensure it doesn’t brown too much. Remove from the oven.
3.Turn off the broiler, and heat the oven to 375º.
4.Spread rashers of bacon on a metal rack over a large baking sheet. Cook in the oven until the fat has begun to render out and the bacon is about half cooked. Remove and reserve.
5. Cut each rasher of bacon in three when cool enough to handle.
6. Mix Cheese Whiz with a small amount of diced hot red pepper rings. Mix more of cheese mixture if needed.
7. Turn over the squares of toasted bread on the baking sheet, and spread the untoasted side with a generous layer of the Cheese Whiz/hot pepper mixture.
8. Place a piece of the partially cooked bacon on top of each square.
9. Transfer to the oven and heat until the bacon is cooked and has begun to brown (5-10 minutes).
10. If you need to, turn on the broiler for a minute or two to finish the browning.
11. Serve immediately
Something red, strong, and cheap. Domestic beer is probably more appropriate.