The Secret to Making the Perfect Tea

Oy, it’s been an age, hasn’t it? Well, life had some unexpected bumps and developments this year, but I think it’s time to reopen the kitchen, hm?

Selected Recipes
Ridiculously good tea
Route Drop Cakes

One of these developments is relevant to this (and likely many future) posts – I am now a Historic Cook at the cozy downtown museum of Mackenzie House ♥ You should visit sometime soon!

Mackenzie house remembers the last house of William Lyon Mackenzie, radical newspaper editor, fierce politician, playful father, Scottish immigrant, failed rebellion leader, first Mayor of Toronto, and Grandfather of Canada’s tenth Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King.

His life, and those of his family, make fascinating stories. Come over for some tea and we can chat around the fire 🙂

The best tea you will ever have:

I kept drinking the tea before taking the photo, until cup after cup, I only had this wee little bit left. This tells you something about the tea, yes?

As someone already known in my day job for my absurdly large consumption of tea, it is hard to imagine that I can drink any more, but I know it gives you great comfort to be reminded that impossible things are indeed achievable with sheer determination (and maybe not a small amount of obsession).Read More »


Food stories in Toronto

Place Settings: Diasporic Food Identities (for any new readers: the exhibit I co-curated for my Masters) recently closed, and in case you missed it, the interactive wall had a-maz-ing food stories! Visitors contributed recipes, family memories, immigration stories, favourite flavours, and each in their own beautiful way demonstrated how food is so intrinsically tied to our identities […]

Conversation w the Curators – Place Settings: Diasporic Food Identities

In case you missed it, I have a current contemporary art exhibition on until the end of the weekend, along with two of my esteemed colleagues Madeline Smolarz and Anya Baker. Entitled Place Settings: Diasporic Food Identities, it features works by Basil AlZeri, Tonia Di Risio, and Susana Reisman. A little bit about the show:

In this exhibition, relationships with oneself and others are measured and evaluated through interactions with food preparation and consumption. Identities are assumed and interpreted based on the food at hand and how it is used. Place Settings aims to explore the manner in which food reflects our identities, and, as a result, becomes a medium for individuals to connect with others. Identities derived from perceived and felt differences can create dualities of inclusion and exclusion in the experience of eating inside and outside of one’s usual dining contexts. This duality is difficult to address; how can one reconcile the familiarity of one’s domestic past when one is displaced in an alien substitute? Each artist seeks to address the situational complexity associated with identity formation in new and strange locations.

Because we are a wonderfully awkward and verbose trio, I decided to interview the three of us reflecting on the show. Read More »

M. Moon on Immigrant Foodways

As I was reading through M. Moon’s Interpreting Food at Museums and Historic Sites  I came across this relevant passage: Finding Familiar Food The first shared food experience many immigrants have is displacement. Though willing to accept tremendous lifestyle changes, immigrants have generally been unwilling to abandon familiar food. In new environments, immigrants used a common […]

(Cook)Book Review: Cooking with Shakespeare

Final Grade: 


“You know Leah, it appears these ‘academic’ cookbooks are not so rigorous as our faithful Canadian Living test kitchen.”

Words from my mother, who is saying them so I don’t have to. The number of times I raised my eyebrows, askance that something was left unclarified -or GASP, forgotten entirely – were too numerous for me to reasonably believe that any of the recipes that we created were tested as rigorously as modern kitchens have come to expect. While I may rejoice in the almost encyclopedic collection of Elizabethan recipes this cookbook provides, it does not make up for sloppy recipe adaptation or composition.

Buttered Beere
A Fine Paste
Warden Pie

Being the inaugural CookBook review, I couldn’t resist adding tidbits of commentary on how I created the rubric for cookbook reviews. (You know how much I like to deliberate…and contemplate… and critique my own standards of quality…and question the very fabric of the universe…) To illustrate my finished format, I will review a familiar book on this site.Read More »

Historic Food at Gallery Openings!

Recently I attended the opening of “All in a Day’s Work: Industry and Growth in Old Town” at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, fantastically curated by three friends from my MMSt program at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information: Dylan Dammermann, Jennifer Ford, and Alyssa Lake, in collaboration with the Ontario Heritage Trust.

“Working life wasn’t easy in Old Town Toronto. Hours were long, pay was low and workplaces could be dangerous. Between 1870 and 1910, the neighbourhood boomed with factories and workshops, where men, women and children worked. Through family stories, photographs and artifacts, “All in a Day’s Work: Industry and Growth in Old Town”  sheds light on life inside Old Town Toronto’s stores, factories and homes during this time – exploring the industrial transformation of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhood.”Read More »

“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

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 »