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:

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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 »

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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 »