“A compound sallet”

Check out the stratigraphic deposits in this recipe! (Click or refresh to see the animation again.) I treated participants in my recent Conference talk with this compound salad from London, 1615. You can read more about this recipe on the post Baking with the Bard: Where’s my Sparknotes? Look forward to a reflection on the conference […]

Welcome to the new site!

If you’re joining me from Musings MMSt Blogspot, howdy! I hope you like the new digs. Please bear with me while I acclimate to this new platform. I will be up and running shortly with my usual enthusiasm and penchant for aromatic historic cooking! In the meantime I invite you to check out the About page, or catch-up on […]

How 20th c. Canadian Cookbooks Both Wrote & Erased History

Selected Recipes:
Tomato Soup Cake w Cream Cheese Frosting
Cheddar Shorties
Manoomin

The 20th century saw many periods of change (flavoured with surprisingly persistent continuity). One of the biggest catalysts for change was of course, the wartime period. Looking at repositories of wartime recipes is a fascinating glimpse of how Canadian Cookery and home life changed. However, I also learned that while cookbooks are a unique method to illuminate history, they can also actively erase important histories as well. Read More »

When Your Biscuits Are Like Rocks: Including Imperfection in Historical Interpretation

Canada Part 2: 19th c. Ontario Cooking featuring Immigrants from the Isles

Selected Recipes
New Cock-a-Leekie Soup
“Excellent Hot Tea Cakes”
“Cranberry Pie”

If you’ve ever watched “Chopped: Canada”, you can sympathize with me when I say that I would be first on the chopping block. Do I cook with enthusiasm? Heck yes! Bravery? You betcha! Skill? Eh….in time, I tell myself, in time.Many times over this Historic Kitchen project I have looked askance at my final product….doubting that I have made it correctly. I would bet good money that my attempt at Patina of Pears would make even the dour Cato the Elder roll over laughing. The difficulty with creating recipes of unfamiliar dishes is that you have no ideaif you are wrong, or how you are wrong. Just that unpleasant niggling sensation that something must be different….since “there is no way this thing should be so jiggly/…neon…/crunchy/[insert questionable adjective here]!”Read More »

A Fine Mess: 18th c. Upper Canada

Selected Recipes:
Chocolate Cream
Shrewsbury Cakes

Canada Part 1: 18th c. Upper Canada

This term I shall explore Canadian Cuisine, in three parts.

Firstly, I would like to say that yes! Such a thing as Canadian Cuisine does exist. This country has a huge variety of regionally uniquebeloved, and sometimes iconically controversial food items. Unfortunately, Canada has long fought against bad stereotypes or a disbelief in good cuisine. Colonel Sanders famously loathed Canadian food, calling it “plumb tasteless!” This series shall feature Canadian recipes of the late 18th and early 19th centuries in this post, and followed by posts exploring the 19th and 20th centuries.Read More »

Maestro of the 15th c. Milanese Kitchen: Myth of Martino’s Libro de Arte Coquinaria

Selected Recipes:
Mushrooms
Rashers
Cherry Pie

While perusing the shelves in Gerstein Library (yes, the Medical Sciences Library of UofT, not the first place I expected to find such a concentration of historic cookbooks either), looking for the recipe books I used over the summer to bring to the recent Musings themed iTea, I discovered this little gem:

Ballerini, L. (Ed.). (2005). The art of cooking: The first modern cookery book (J. Parzen, Trans. S. Barzini, Contr.). Berkeley: University of California Press. Read More »

Baking with the Bard: Where’s My Sparknotes?

Selected Shakespearean Recipes:
Mynst Pies
A Fine Paste
A Compound Sallat

You  know when you read Shakespeare, and there are those convenient footnotes explaining all the contextual references to contemporary Elizabethan popculture? If you’ve ever tried reading Shakespeare without looking at these handy explanations, you sort of feel like you are only getting half the picture. Lines have very shallow meaning, but you don’t know what it is you don’t know. Shakespearean works, like historical recipes, are best understood when read with a full grasp of the common knowledge of their time, these things that are so common sense, that contemporary writers don’t bother explaining them. They assume their audience knows all about it. Well. Maybe back then they did! Now, much of that ‘common knowledge’ is lost. And unfortunately, there is no handy sparknotes for historical cookbooks!Read More »