Published December 10, 2013
'The Romney Family Table' is a lush cookbook filled with Romney family recipes and reminiscences that underscore the closeness of the family. Ann Romney, Mitt's wife and mother to five boys has compiled a cookbook that is full of easy, family friendly fare including "The Fluffernutter Sandwich," which she's sure Mayor Bloomberg would have banned, "an added incentive to keep it around," she writes. The 64-year-old spoke to FOX411 about raising her brood and parenting with Mitt.
FOX411: Is Mitt a good eater?
Ann Romney: I really get very frustrated because he's one of those people who can eat so many calories in a day and never gain weight. I have five sons just like that so they can eat enormous amounts of food and never gain any weight. It's real hard to be around them.
FOX411: I loved how you wrote that you would lock yourself in the car sometimes when your boys got to be too much.
Romney: (Laughs) They're not necessarily the days you're most proud of but it's the reality of what it's like to have children. They can push you to your limits. You have to know that there are moments like that. We're human. You have to learn how to have a moment to escape and get your wits about you so you don't lash out and do something you would regret.
FOX411: Five boys. Was it like being a referee at a wrestling match?
Romney: The balls were flying and they were always leaping, they were always wrestling. For me it was sort of sad, they were never in the kitchen baking cookies or anything like that. It was just rambunctious, like a bunch of bear cubs.
FOX411: Were you overwhelmed by all the testosterone?
Romney: Oh yeah, always. I felt sorry for myself. Especially when I'd go to friends’ houses and I'd see their daughter in the kitchen washing dishes without being asked! I had to practically force them to wash the dishes. But I will say as they got older, some of my boys learned to cook.
FOX411: You include a recipe for the Fluffernutter sandwich that you're sure would annoy Mayor Bloomberg.
Romney: The reality is the children love them, they're not nutritious except maybe a little bit of the peanut butter in there, but there's some things in life you just have to enjoy.
FOX411: I'm so impressed that you would take your kids to church every week and have them sit still for a three hour service.
Romney: It was really amazing that they’d behave so well in church and as a matter of fact I'd get mad at them because then I 'd go home and they'd [misbehave] and I'd say, 'No one feels sorry for me because they all see you behaving so nicely in public and then you get in private and you're terrible. Why can't you act in public like you act in private and then people can feel sorry for me.'
FOX411: But how did you get them to behave?
Romney: When they were really young if they were misbehaving in church I would take out the naughty child and it wouldn't be fun to be taken out. It was unpleasant to be out, sitting in a classroom with folded arms and not moving. It wasn't like, 'Now I'm taking you out in the hallway and you can run around and scream and play.' For me it was really clear that if they misbehaved there were consequences. It just worked. They just knew during church they had to sit and behave. I gave them things to do. I gave them what we call more reverent types of books or even scriptures with cartoons so they still had an attention span towards something that was more reverent. I just made it a real point that that was how they were to behave in church.
FOX411: You write of the importance of families sitting together for a meal.
Romney: I think it's an effort. It's a lot for the moms or whoever puts a meal on the table. It takes real effort, real planning. You have to recognize that some people won't eat what you make, there's going to be some tears so despite all of your best planning it doesn't always go so smoothly. It doesn't happen naturally. We should be realistic and know that not every night we're going to be sitting down with a family dinner. There are many nights we had pizza or we were out and got home and everyone was hungry so we got out the eggs and made omelets.
I would prepare. I would cook ahead. I'd shop ahead. I'd freeze things. I'd make double batches. There are shortcuts we can take so we can make sure we have those moments where we can come to the table, share conversation, share ideas. My children really learned how to debate well sitting at the table. Mitt liked to shake it up a lot. He loved to play the devil's advocate and make them think. You learn so many skills at the table and how to respect one another and how to disagree politely, how to stand up for different opinions. A lot of really important lessons are learned at the table.
FOX411: Why do you think the Mormon community has been so successful?
Romney: Real importance on family and marriage, real importance on valuing one another. I was glad to clear up that misconception. I think somehow people think the woman (in the Mormon community) is subservient and that's not the case at all. I kind of feel that's where strong relationships are really made, valuing one another and recognizing the value that each person brings to the table. Parenting is a life-long thing, the most important thing. Mitt said it to me all the time, 'Your job is more important than mine.' He didn't just say it, he really meant it. Women are very highly respected. Hopefully most fathers are making sure that the children treat the mother with respect and can't raise their voices. For me as a mom watching my sons, how they treat their own wives, I thank my husband so much for that. He set such a beautiful example.