I've gotten hours of entertainment out of this book. It's a fascinating look at what Canadians were eating 100 years ago, and my interpretations of a couple recipes from it have already appeared on this blog. No doubt there will be a number more.
Right now though, I want to share some of the stuff I have abso-freaking-lutely no intention of ever trying.
For example, I am not going to make my own yeast:
"WET YEAST. - Boil 1 large handful of hops in a gallon of water for half an hour, grate 5 medium sized potatoes and strain the boiling liquid over it, stirring well; add a little salt, sugar and ginger; let cool then add 1 White Swan Yeast Cake and put in a warm place to rise; stir frequently. It is best made in a large dish and afterwards put into a jar and corked tight. - Mrs Harry Platts, Alma, Lot 3, P.E.I."Huh? If you can get White Swan Yeast Cakes, why not just use White Swan Yeast Cakes? I don't get it.
You've got to love the organization of old-fashioned cook books, by the way. The way I figure it, word went out to the women of Canada that a cook book was to be published, they sent in their best recipes, and then they were sorted and organized. Sorted and organized by a man, plainly; and not just any man - certainly not one with any knowledge of cookery - I suspect the printer himself - and the resulting level of organization is approximate at best. I note, for example, the following mixed in amongst the yeasts and breads:
"SCOTCH BREADS. - 2 pounds flour, 1/2 pound brown sugar, 3/4 pound butter, 1/4 pound lard, roll, sprinkle with sugar, cut in squares. - Mrs. Will McKay, Altona, Ont."Right, should be with the cookies. Should be baked, too, but that's just my opinion. These should have been with the cookies too:
"LEMON BISCUIT. - Take 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups lard, 1 pint sweet milk, 2 eggs, five cents worth of baker's ammonia in sweet milk, and five cents worth of lemon oil; beat sugar, lard, and eggs together, pulverize and dissolve ammonia in sweet milk, put lemon oil in last, mix in flour until stiff, then roll about as thick as pasteboard, cut in squares or round shapes, and bake in a quick oven; add a little salt. - Mrs C. W. Macklin, Grafton, Ont.Obviously, this was a popular recipe at the time. But thus is seen the folly of calling for ingredients by their current price or package without reference to size. Future generations will have to guess: just how much baker's ammonia and lemon oil was that, anyway? Still, that was precision of a kind. I suspect this "recipe" was always just annoying:
Also sent by Miss Emma Reid, Reid's Corner, Ont.; Mrs. Jas. Symons, Box 26, Craik, Sask.; Mrs. R. Roe, Hawkstone, Ont.; Mrs. John Ferguson, Camlachie, Ont.; Mildred Gearns, Dalston, Simcoe Co., Ontario."
"CEREAL AND VEGETABLE SOUPS. - Heaping tablespoon of barley, rice, wheat, oats, beans, peas, or whatever you desire; potato, carrot, tomato, cabbage, turnip, celery tops, parsley, onion, or whatever desired to suit taste; season with celery salt (table salt may be used). For bouillon, use excess of turnips and cabbage for flavouring and strain. If you desire to make richer by adding milk, omit cabbage and turnip. Select your vegetables as preferred. Any combination is good. Absolutely no stock or butter is required. - E. G. Harris, 109 Park Street, Buffalo, N.Y."Well, wasn't that helpful? No? Well, maybe I'll try again next week with some different recipes.