Monday, April 07, 2014

Prairie Kitchens - Coconut Cookie

I inherited my grandmother's recipe box. It's stuffed full of hand-written recipe cards, some in my grandmother's perfect script and some in the hand of those who shared a recipe with her.

But nothing like the recipes handed down by Kate Turgeon. In 1928, Kate (née Kaminski) immigrated from Poland with her family and settled at Crystal Springs, near Wakaw. She took a job keeping house and cooking for a farmer, a widower with ten children.

When she quit, he asked her to marry him. And so, as her granddaughter says, "She went back to do for free what she had once been paid for." Kate added three more children to the family. That's a lot of mouths to feed! In the 1940s, she and her husband moved into town, where she shared recipes with her new neighbour, Mrs. Danchuk.

Kate wrote out the recipes, but since she didn't write English too well, she wrote phonetically in a curious mix of English and Polish spelling. Half cup is hef kop. Egg is eg. Cake is kiejk. Raisins are ryjzyn.

A teaspoon of cinnamon is "tispun cynamyn." Three cups of oatmeal is "3 kops outmil." She crosses both t and l so the instruction "roll into small balls" is written "rot do smat bot." Needless to say, deciphering her recipes is a delightful puzzle.

This recipe for "kokonat kuki" is probably not that old, but Kate's handwritten recipes are a treasure from a time gone by, reminding us of the many nations and languages that populated this land.

Coconut Cookie
1 cup butter or lard
1 cup white sugar or brown sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 pound coconut (450 grams)

Cream soft butter/lard with sugar. Mix in cream of tartar, baking soda, egg and vanilla until well blended. Sift flour overtop and stir in. Add coconut and mix briefly. Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet, about the size of a walnut. Press tops with a fork. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until just starting to brown and a finger pressed on top does not leave an indentation. Dat myk 7 do kuki. ( Makes 7 dozen cookies.)

Molasses Muffin

Mrs. Danchuk's Cake

Oatmeal Cookie

Kate in her garden at Crystal Springs, Saskatchewan, with husband Alfred and granddaughter Marjy.


Nikki Fotheringham said...

I love this recipe - and the pictures and the history are the cherry on top. I have a framed recipe from my grandma too!

Amy Jo Ehman said...

Thanks Nikki. I never thought to frame my grandma's handwritten recipe, but that's a great idea!

Lynn Brick said...

I loved this piece, the Mrs. Danchuk referred to in this article was my uncle Dennis' mother. He traveled from Vancouver to Crystal Springs every summer to see his brother Jim who lived there. He has since passed away but I have forwarded this to his son. I'm trying to decipher her cake recipe, quite a challenge!

Lynn Brick

Amy Jo Ehman said...

Wow, Lynn. I'm so glad the recipe has found it's way to the Danchuk family. That is so cool!

Marg Leman said...

I grew up in Crystal Springs, in the CPR station. Each winter we would skate on the frozen slough across the road from Fred and Kate Turgeon's farm. Kate would take us in to warm our frozen toes and feed us her wonderful homemade chicken rice soup. I remember Margy as a baby and toddler and loved the welcome I always received whenever I stopped in to visit. Danchuck's farm was a bit.closer to town, but Arlene was a close friend, and my sister Judy was a bridesmaid at her wedding. I have Mrs. Danchuck's recipe for Pieroshki, which are the best in the world. Her daughter Lillian submitted the recipe for the Saskatchewan Homemakers Club centennial cookbook.
It's wonderful to see the picture of Kate and Alfred (Fred), and Margy in the garden. ..Margaret ( Clipperton ) Leman

Amy Jo Ehman said...

Thank you Marg for sharing your memories of Crystal Springs. Such wonderful memories of special foods and the women who shared them with their neighbours. Food really does make a community!! I will have to look up Mrs. Danchuck's pieroshki recipe in the Homemakers cookbook. Maybe a future blog post...!