September 21, 2023

MARGARET PROUSE: Evolving cuisines via the years

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Our cuisine, the foods we usually take in, is consistently evolving. This is genuine in Prince Edward Island, as it is in the rest of Canada.

I have been carrying out some cooking demonstrations at Milton Local community Hall in which we discover the food items of numerous teams of inhabitants of the Island as we seem at just about every team we can see that their food stuff habits have contributed to the recent delicacies. Some, such as the Initially Peoples, designed approaches of feeding themselves based mostly on the vegetation, animals and seafood that surrounded them. Settler teams introduced recipes and taking in patterns from their spots of origin and usually adapted them to make use of the foods that ended up accessible locally.

As time went on, new groups of settlers, these kinds of as the Lebanese, took measures to see that the food items they enjoyed had been imported. Enhanced transportation methods alongside with improvements in neighborhood production have created it probable for Islanders to obtain an unprecedented range of meals. 

These alterations make it possible for immigrants and folks of quite a few cultural backgrounds to put together the foods they are employed to and enjoy. It also lets all Islanders to integrate into their every day weight loss plans foodstuff that their ancestors, even the recent ones, may well never ever have heard of.  Some of these new-to-us meals are high priced adequate to be prohibitive for quite a few of us, but lots of are cost-effective.  

The at any time-expanding array of menu choices provides a richness to our life. Rather of staying limited to acquainted meals of meat and potatoes, or salt fish and blue potatoes, or tabouli and hummus, or pasta and Bolognese sauce, we can undertake dishes that originated in a lot of sites, in latest moments and times previous.

If you are interested in Canadian heritage recipes, I counsel you stop by theprogbasket.com. It is based mostly on investigate and recipe testing carried out by Margie Lou Shaver, a graduate of the Household and Buyer Reports plan at the College of Guelph. She invested additional than 10 several years accumulating and testing recipes (“receipts”) from early Canadian resources, some from as far back as the 1700s. When she died in 2019, possessing not obtained her goal of compiling a cookbook with heritage recipes, her niece Patti Shaver was entrusted with the collection, and Patti has employed that selection to establish a web site known as theprogbasket.com.  

This is a page from Margaret Prouse’s grandma's book for a recipe for a sponge cake, made with hot milk. Contributed
This is a page from Margaret Prouse’s grandma’s book for a recipe for a sponge cake, manufactured with scorching milk. Contributed

Shaver presents the recipes in their primary sorts and in current diversifications employing measurements and descriptions more useable in the 2020s, along with pics of the prepared dish and snippets of associated data.  

The title “prog basket” puzzled me till I browse the pursuing observe: “According to Merriam-Webster, ‘prog’ is a verb meaning ‘to search about in particular forage’. And so a prog basket was utilised in times absent by to get food from the fields or kitchen backyard.”

To illustrate how important it is to have this get the job done documented, I’ll notify you what just took place to me. I expended additional than an hour seeking for my Grandma’s e book of handwritten recipes, pretty much specified I’d lost it. The good news is, I hadn’t. The recipes gathered in theprogbasket.com are safer, considerably less most likely to be lost than the kinds that are misplaced in the tangles of paper that obtain in this, and similar, homes.

Here’s one from Grandma. It’s a sponge cake, made with sizzling milk I’ve been informed of cakes produced this way, but I’ll be straightforward: I haven’t experimented with it nonetheless.

The cake depends on the baker’s system, 1st in beating the eggs very well to include as substantially air as doable into them, and then sifting the flour repeatedly to make certain that it is fluffy and not compacted. This recipe predates the pre-sifted flour that we get for granted.  

Aside from adding a number of punctuation marks, I have copied it word for word. You are going to uncover none of the guidance that we incorporate about what sort of pan to use, how scorching the oven really should be or how extensive to bake the cake it was assumed that the prepare dinner would know these points. 

Laura Schmidt’s Sponge Cake

  • 2 eggs conquer until mild
  • Add two-third cup white sugar, conquer well.
  • Sift 1 cup flour four periods
  • Two times right before measuring
  • 1 teaspoon B powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Heat 2 tablespoons butter with

Just one-third cup sweet milk to boiling stage and add to the first element. Incorporate vanilla. 


Margaret Prouse, a home economist, writes this column for The Guardian each and every Friday. She can be attained by email at [email protected].