The Canada Food Board issued a directive to "proprietors of Public Eating Places" such as the University of Saskatchewan concerning the use of flour and sugar. No more than 2 lbs of sugar could be used per 90 meals served. The sugar had to be "yellow" not white (a cheaper form of sugar). For every 4 lbs of white flour, at least 1 lb of alternative flour (oatmeal, corn, whole grain, etc.) had to be used.
The directive admonished, "Do not serve bread and butter before the first course. People eat them without thought."
This recipe for Strawberry Pudding, which appeared in the Saskatoon Daily Star in August 1916, fit the times. It uses brown sugar and minimal butter and flour, while taking advantage of homegrown seasonal fruit. The original instructions were brief, assuming everyone knew how to steam a pudding. I did not. However, I tried it twice, once in a ceramic baking dish and once in small jelly jars, and it turned out well.
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soft butter
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup sliced strawberries
Cream together brown sugar and egg, add butter, milk and vanilla. Blend well. Blend together dry ingredients. Mix into batter. Stir in strawberries.
Pour into a baking vessel that has been buttered on the bottom. It should be about half full as the pudding will rise. Cover with tin foil that has been smeared with butter.
Place in a cooking pot, add water to come half way up the baking dish and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover pot and simmer 2 hours. When cool, tip from mold and serve with whipped cream and strawberries.
Take a look at the food posters produced by the Canada Food Board at McGill.ca.
This article first appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.