The old prices come from George Ballantine, whose family moved from Ontario to Prince Albert in 1880. In the 1950s, he filled out a questionnaire called "What did Western Canadian pioneers eat?" which is now held by Saskatchewan Archives at the University of Saskatchewan. According to George, his family was so poor that, by the age of 11, he was working fulltime in a grocery store, so he knew the cost of basic foods.
Why did the price of eggs differ from summer to winter? Back then, most farmers kept hens and many in town did, too, so there was no shortage of eggs in summertime. However, come winter, hens lay many fewer eggs, so they were scarce.
The pioneers employed various interesting methods to keep eggs for winter. George reports that, in his home, eggs were covered in grease and stored in salt in the cellar. Others report keeping eggs imbedded in frozen wheat, packed in chopped oats, soaking in a brine of salt and quick lime or buried in an equal weight of bran and salt.
No doubt, there were many rotten eggs. But those that survived would make a cake, pancakes or scrambled eggs on a cold winter's night.
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp cream
Sprinkle of chopped parsley
Melt butter in a frying pan on medium low heat. In a bowl, scramble eggs lightly and season with salt and pepper. Pour into the pan. Cook eggs slowly, lifting and stirring until they are just cooked but still moist. Remove from heat. Stir in cream. Tip the eggs into a serving dish. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with buttered bread or toast.
Do you have an old Saskatchewan recipe with an interesting story? Send me a comment!
(This article first appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.)