Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Home for Dinner - Prairie Cookbooks

I've been reading old cookbooks, which say a lot about the cooks. The older cookbooks have short recipes – six or eight to a page – and no pictures. Instructions are brief:
            "Make a white sauce."
            "Mix as for biscuits."
            "Bake in a slow oven."
A recipe for haggis (an old Scottish dish made in a sheep's stomach) says simply, "Cook in the usual way."
In many cases, the cook would have been using a coal-fired stove – most of rural Saskatchewan didn't get electricity (and thus electric appliances) until the 1950s. The cook had to know instinctively when the oven was the right temperature and how long the dish should bake. Eggs and cream were whipped by hand. Food was chilled in an ice house or down the well.
Read more about prairie cookbooks in my column Home For Dinner in the Star Phoenix.
Here's a recipe for my grandmother's applesauce cookies, connecting her German heritage with the apples she picked on our prairie farm.
Applesauce Cookies
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 cup applesauce

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in egg until batter is light and airy. Sift and add flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix well. Stir in raisins and applesauce. Drop by small spoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake at 400F for 10-12 min. Makes about 50 cookies.

Do you have a prairie recipe with a story? Send me a comment. Follow at twitter.com/prairiefeast.


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