The former White House social secretaries are a congenial group, and we gather regularly to catch up and pass tales, for much the same reason veterans flock to the VFW: we share an experience that others cannot fully appreciate. I love them all, but one who has a special place in my heart is Ann Stock, who served in the Clinton Administration. During my second week at the White House, feeling overwhelmed by the volume of events in that pre-Christmas, pre-inaugural time frame, I put my head down on my desk late one afternoon and thought, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” At that moment, the phone rang, and it was Ann, introducing herself. She said, “I bet you’re wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into.” I emitted one of those shaky, “laugh-or-cry” chortles that you can’t quite control, and we were friends.
We talked for a long time. She offered to host a lunch in my honor to meet the other social secretaries, and brought me an enormous bag of “necessaries” – things I might need in a pinch – breath mints, panty hose, Kleenex, a sewing kit, etc. That bag stayed in my desk the entire time I worked at the White House and came in handy many times. (She might be a little bit psychic.)
Ann worked as the White House Social Secretary for five years, and went on to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. In between her government positions, she was Vice President of Institutional Affairs at the Kennedy Center. I always think of her as the Energizer Bunny, with indefatigable energy, brimming with good ideas and full of experience about how to make them happen. She tells me that her marching orders from the Clintons on the first day were”to be inclusive and make the White House look like America; make it the People’s House.”
During Ann’s time at the White House, the Clintons hired the first American chef, and changed the food service to a plated method, to allow the chefs to be artistic in designing each plate. They began hosting dinners on the grounds of the White House to accommodate more people, and moved to emphasize regional American cooking and local produce.
President Clinton and Hillary with Ann Stock
In Ann’s family there is a favorite birthday cake recipe that she used to ask for at every birthday. She’s sharing it today, along with the yummy cream cheese frosting that goes with it. With many thanks to Ann for her help and friendship.
Birthday Carrot Cake
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 ½ cup canola oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl combine sugar and oil. Add eggs one at a time, mixing them into mixture after each. Add dry ingredients and mix
- well. Add carrots, pineapple and pecans and mix until well combined. Pour batter into greased 8-inch cake tins.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
For the Icing:
- 8 ounces sifted powdered sugar
- 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
- In a mixing bowl combine sugar, vanilla, and butter. Cut cream cheese into chunks and add to sugar mixture, beating until icing is free of lumps and smooth.