Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Prairie Kitchens - German Coleslaw

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a special day on the prairies since the first pioneers settled down. However, in those early days, they couldn't agree on the date.

In 1879, parliament set Thanksgiving on Nov. 6, but it was not universally observed. Pioneers of British heritage were more likely to celebrate their traditional Home Harvest festival on the final day of harvest. Pioneers from the United States were more accustomed to celebrating American Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.

Then, in 1918, parliament declared a new holiday on Nov. 11 to mark the end of the First World War. Since there couldn't be two holidays within a week, the two were combined. Veterans weren't happy to share their solemn day of remembrance with a harvest celebration. So, in 1931, the two holidays were separated. However, it was not until 1957 that parliament officially set Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.

This posed a problem for some prairie families, according to What's to Eat: Entrees in Canadian Food History. The issue was this: the Thanksgiving turkey, which was raised on the farm, was not yet sufficiently plump enough for dinner. For that reason, many families had a ham or a roast instead. The turkey lived to see another dinner – possibly Christmas.

Whenever the day, Thanksgiving included vegetables fresh from the garden, like this cabbage salad. This dish is better the second day, so make it ahead.

German Coleslaw
4-5 cups shredded cabbage
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp celery seed

Combine cabbage and onions in a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the oil and return to boil. Stir in celery seed. Pour the mixture onto the cabbage and toss well. Refrigerate until dinnertime.

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This column first appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix)


Bees4Me said...

Hi Amy Jo:
When we were kids, our mother served us "Buttermilk Pop" for breakfast. This is like a gruel. The buttermilk was thickened with flour until consistency of porridge. It was served hot with brown sugar and toast. We loved it, but I think you need to acquire a taste for it.
My grandparents and parents are gone. I have asked my aunts and uncles where this recipe came from. They don't seem to know. I don't know if it came from my Belgium, French, British Isles roots, or from a survival recipe result from the Dirty Thirties. One of my Belgium friends seems to know of it, but still haven't concluded whether it was Belgium or Dirty Thirties Recipe.

Bees4Me said...

The Buttermilk Pop name originated from the cooking process. While thickening, the buttermilk "pops" or "plops".

Amy Jo Ehman said...

I've read several references to a gruel like that, tho none with the colourful name of Buttermilk Pop. Some references predate the Depression. It seems to me that it's more a food of poverty than a specific ethnic group. I'll let you know if I learn anything more about it.