I have read your Cook-Book, and I now know how it is done. The mystery is solved. The question which puzzled King George the Third is no longer an enigma. I know now how the apples get into the dumplings, how to baste a chicken, make a pork pie, and fry dough-nuts. I have read your book carefully, and can say it is full of good things.”
Oh, how I love the grammatical pretentiousness of old books, particularly old cookbooks. The quote above is from one of the classic cookbooks we got to peruse during last month’s gathering at the Summerland Museum.
A huge thank you to the lovely Andrea at the Museum for creating a great space for our meetup! As part of Summerland Earth Week, the theme was “Regional Heritage Bakes,” and we were challenged to prepare a dish that our grandparents or great-grandparents may have made in this area, using local and regional ingredients.
Before I start with the goodies and recipes, I want to give a quick promotion for the Museum’s upcoming Fashion Show event on May 24th. This is a great chance to see many of the outfits in the Museum’s collection being modelled! Tickets are $20 and can be purchased from SASS on Main Street.
Let’s get started with the Vinegar Pie that was made by the lovely Kim, who is also the owner of some very old and glorious cookbooks. Kim used raspberry vinegar in her pie, which I found to be tart, zingy and very tasty! I could see how this would be the perfect pie in the winter when there wasn’t much fruit to be had yet people still wanted a dessert.
Vinegar Pie, Vinegar Pie, if I don’t get some I think I’ll die.
Vinegar pie comes from an era when fresh fruit and flavourings were not readily available. Especially in late winter when fresh and dried fruit, carefully saved, had run out. What was readily available were the staples of the farm larder – butter, eggs and sugar.
On the Canadian prairies, where access to citrus fruit was a luxury at anytime of the year, vinegar was the home cooks’ acid option. Most all homes had a crock of vinegar percolating away in the cellar. Vinegar pie satisfied the craving for something sweet in the dark of winter. There are many variations on vinegar pie. One variation is a boiled filling poured into a baked pie shell (like a custard pie). Another variation is an unbaked filling poured into a partially baked pie shell. Typically vinegar pie is a single crust pie covered with a meringue (like a lemon meringue pie). Or not. Still another variation uses milk or cream (like a milk pudding).
I am not going to burden you with a plain pie crust recipe. Nor am I going to repeat here Clara Jane’s Unforgettable Pie Crust Recipe. Forget it. No one left alive can make a pie crust like Clara Jane’s, so you might well go buy one or use one from The Home Cookbook, compiled by Ladies of Toronto and Chief Cities and Towns in Canada, 1877. Or, this one from The People’s Home Recipe Book, 1910:
Pie Dough. – Four cups of flour, a little salt, enough lard to make flour stick together when pressed. Work for about 20 minutes. Then add just enough water to make it hold together.
The recipe (or receipt) for Vinegar Pie is equally vague when it comes to instructions:
Beat together 1 large egg, 2 egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour. Add ¼ cup vinegar, ½ cup melted and cooled butter. Pour into partially baked pie crust. Bake until filling is set. Cover with meringue and bake.
Next, three cheers for Jean for daring to try a classic steamed pudding. Spotted Dick is a traditional British pudding which uses dried fruit and is served with custard. The challenge with a pudding like this is you can’t peak in on it while it’s steaming – you just have to hope for the best. If you want to give this dessert a go, Jamie Oliver has a good recipe on his site.
Lory treated us to a flourless chocolate cake baked with local walnuts and served with a raspberry sauce made from her own raspberries. When she emailed me the recipe she called it a “cloudless chocolate cake” which I think also sounds delicious.
Janice’s butterscotch rice pudding was a big hit. She told us that this would be something that might be served when the local pastor was coming to tea. One wouldn’t wish to serve just plain rice pudding, after all! This dish was really decadent served with extra cream.
Another treat was Gerri’s rustic wheat beer bread, which went so well with the lovely potato salad another of our clan brought. I can’t remember who made this dish but I loved it enough to have two helpings!
Whew! Thanks again to the Museum and to everyone who attended! It was lovely to meet some new people and to talk about recipes and cookbooks. I am officially smitten with the museum’s kitchen display. Sigh – I do love kitchens.
There is no event in May but we’ll be returning in June with our theme that honours the solstice: “Quick recipes for long days.” This will be another flexible potluck – it doesn’t have to be baked but you can certainly bake if you want to! More details coming soon.
To quote the same old cookbook, I am: