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Sidna Brower Mitchell Blog: Trent’s Oysters

I was sorry to learn that former United States Senator Trent Lott suffered a ruptured appendix, which can be life-threatening, and wish him a speedy recovery. Trent was a classmate of mine and we were both in the Ole Miss Hall of Fame back in 1963 when we graduated.

While I dabbled in politics in Bernardsville and Monroe Township, NJ, and ran for the New Jersey State Assembly, Trent became a big-time politician. He served as a Mississippi congressman and later as United States senator along with another contemporary, Thad Cochran. In fact, Trent and Thad ran for Senate majority leader with Trent the victor.

In cleaning out some papers, I found an article from a March 13, 1999, The New York Times in which Trent claimed he had invented the modern paper clip. According to The Times, “Mr. Lott’s deadpan announcement, printed on his official letterhead, was the latest and cleverest effort by Republicans to rib Vice President Al Gore for a statement on Tuesday on CNN in which he said he ‘took the initiative in creating the Internet.'”

Trent’s release noted, “Paper clips are the engine of the U.S. economy. The Dow will soon break 10,000, due in part to strong growth in the paper clip industry.” (Indeed, the Dow reached 10,006 on March 29 of that year (1999) and stands at over 15,000 now. That’s a whole bunch of paper clips adding to the economy!)

I’ve always enjoyed Trent’s sense of humor. Years ago, when I was in Washington, D.C., for a conference, I stopped by to see Trent soon after he had moved from the House of Representatives to the U.S. Senate. We laughed about the condition then Senator Joe Biden had left the office and Trent’s “Mississippi chandeliers” and talked about mutual friends.

When I told him about writing a weekly cooking column, Trent gave me a copy of The Congressional Club Cookbook that included three recipes from his wife, Tricia, and one from him. I tried Trent’s recipe for oysters, only learning that year to like—no love—those bivalves. This is indeed easy and so delicious.

Trent’s Easy Oysters

1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pint oysters, drained and liquid preserved
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add oysters and cook until oysters curl at the edges. Do not over cook.Remove from heat and add reserved liquid, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Mix well. Mixture will be the consistency of dressing. Add seasonings. Spread in a buttered quart casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Makes four servings.

NOTE: I just use a Pyrex pie plate to bake the oysters. This also makes a great appetizer for about six people.
I can be reached via by e-mail at sbmcooks@aol.com.

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