Sandra Day O'Connor's Famous Christmas Beef Jerky Made It Into A Cookbook

As tributes to the late Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor roll in, it's important to remember that she was more than the bigger-than-life advocate for human rights she revealed in the halls of justice. O'Connor, who died at the age of 93 on December 1, 2023, was at one time known as the most powerful woman in America, but she also lived a rich personal life.

In 2017, O'Connor offered a glimpse into her life outside the spotlight when she shared a family recipe for beef jerky. During her tenure on the Supreme Court, O'Connor was known for celebrating the Christmas season by gifting her colleagues packages of homemade beef jerky from a family-owned Arizona cattle farm. O'Connor's recipe is included in a cookbook titled "Table for 9: Supreme Court Food Traditions & Recipes," written by Clare Cushman.

At the time of publication, Cushman told the Associated Press that her inspiration came from tourists visiting the Supreme Court gift shop. According to Cushman, visitors routinely asked about a court-specific cookbook due in part to the fact that the White House gift shop offered an assortment of books about food and entertaining in the executive residence. She said, "The more I researched the more I realized that this was a really substantial topic and that it wasn't going to be fluffy or ridiculous to ask these extremely distinguished judges questions like: 'What are your favorite foods and what do you eat for lunch?'"

Behind the scenes at the Supreme Court

In the process of researching the book, Cushman contacted the families of 35 Supreme Court justices seeking personal insight into their favorite foods, recipes, and traditions. In addition to O'Connor's beef jerky recipe, other insights include a peek behind the curtain, like candid photos of the justices grabbing a quick bite while seated at a table hidden behind the imposing Supreme Court bench and a look at the justices' private dining room in addition to images of the justices at leisure during social gatherings in their homes.

Other highlights of the cookbook include the Gorsuch family's recipe for English marmalade and step-by-step instructions for baking the late Justice William Rehnquist's favorite pineapple and coconut birthday cake, and the book features a foreword written by O'Connor's Supreme Court colleague Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. One thing the cookbook doesn't include is the recipe for the "secret sauce" the Day family traditionally served alongside the storied beef jerky.