Digestible Bits and Bites #100, August 2021

Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 100, August 2021
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WELCOME TO OUR 100th EDITION! For July's berry challenge, CHC member Ellen Pekilis made a beautiful tangy red-currant sorbet, which she paired with her own goat-cheese ice cream with brandied sour cherry ribbon for contrast. Read on for more mouth-watering berry goodness.



  1. CHC News & Upcoming Events

  2. News & Opportunities

  3. Destinations

  4. Food for Thought (book reviews)

  5. Events of Interest

  6. International Conferences

1. CHC News and Upcoming Events

CHC Annual General Meeting

Please note that the CHC AGM will take place on the afternoon of Sunday, September 26. Members in good standing as of that date have the right to stand for board membership, to elect board members and to vote on official matters that may arise.

Like last year, the meeting will be held virtually, so we expect strong attendance from across the country. We will be offering fascinating presentations on culinary history relating to rural women, and participants will receive some simple historic recipes to make so that we can all “share” a snack.

All AGM materials will be posted to the Upcoming Events section of the CHC website. For further information, or to find out about board vacancies, contact

Just a Bite Has Launched!

By Fiona Lucas

CHC’s board of directors is pleased to announce the launch of our newest project, Just a Bite: Summer Food Memories from Ontario Seniors, sponsored by a grant from the New Horizons for Seniors Program.

Just a Bite will be a collection of food memories from summers long past, a project to preserve and share youthful memories from the season between the summer and fall equinoxes. While its final forms are still undetermined (booklet? website? recipe box? recurring program?), the collection is to be a repository of historical memories for future researchers.

The core committee has created a booklet of questions to elicit these summer food memories. There are two downloadable PDF versions of the booklet that are available to all, to be circulated throughout Ontario:
Over this summer, the booklets will be shared widely among seniors’ groups, cultural groups, clubs, institutions, associations and service organizations. We look forward to Just a Bite becoming a legacy project for CHC with your help. Please feel free to share the booklets with members, colleagues, friends and family. All memories are welcome!

The grant’s deadline for completion is February 28, 2022. We anticipate needing volunteer readers, transcribers and fact checkers for the submissions, and copy editors, layout editors and social media experts for the final products. If you are interested, you can join one of our upcoming Zoom meetings. The next two are Tuesday, August 10 and Monday, August 23 at 8 p.m. EDT. For further information, contact us at


A Visit to Mrs. Dalgairns’s Kitchen

By Sylvia Lovegren

On Tuesday, July 27, CHC hosted culinary icon Mary Williamson (pictured above), talking about her new book, Mrs. Dalgairns’s Kitchen: Rediscovering “The Practice of Cookery” (McGill-Queen’s University Press).

Mrs. Dalgairns’s cookbook was a bestseller of its day and went through over 16 editions, yet today is barely known. Mary Williamson decided to change that! In her talk, she focused on Mrs. Dalgairns’s early life on Prince Edward Island, and the effect that upbringing had on her early interest in “international” cookery, with influences from the indigenous Mi'kmaq, her American-raised Loyalist mother, and her brother-in-law’s residence in India, along with her later life in Scotland.

The talk was illustrated beautifully with maps and images from contemporary sources. Mary was joined via Zoom by another culinary icon, Elizabeth Baird, demonstrating recipes from the book, one for Mushroom Catsup and the other for Whim Wham—a trifle cousin—as pictured below in a photo by Julia Armstrong. What a shame we weren’t in person, to taste!

A lively question-and-answer session with both women followed. Ticket holders were given a coupon for a discount on the book from the publisher and a recorded copy of the event for (limited time!) review.

Apples at the Markham (Ontario) Fair. Photo by Sarah Hood.

August-September Cooking Challenge: Apples
We’re taking a month off from cooking challenges, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Since we’ve had such an enthusiastic response to our rhubarb and berry challenges, we offer you a similarly seasonal proposition for August and September: apples (and yes, crabapples count!).

Do you grow them or pick your own? Do you make killer crabapple jelly, applesauce or apple chutney? Do you roast apples with pork? Do you bake apple pie... cake... muffins... Tarte Tatin? Press juice or cider? Or maybe just try a tasting of unusual varieties? Let us know! If you post pictures and comments to our Facebook page before midnight on Friday, September 24, we’ll feature you in our October newsletter.


Muriel Hart answered our July berry challenge with these photogenic Ontario Strawberry Mousse Chocolate Shortbread Tarts. She used Ricardo Cuisine’s Creamy Strawberry Mousse recipe and her own Chocolate Shortbread recipe.

Berry Cooking Challenge Participants
The ante has been upped, with a flood of berry-flavoured eye candy in response to our July challenge! A surprising number of participants foraged their fruit or grew it in their own backyards.

Retta Collins: “Blueberry Buckle from my main cookbook: 1950 Betty Crocker. There were fresh blueberries at the farmer’s market this morning!”

Pat Currie: “Black Currant Jelly made from berries picked in my friend’s backyard. This is the first time I’ve made jelly and I’m very pleased with the results. I followed instructions from my Ball Blue Book of Home Canning, Preserving & Freezing Recipes (1949).”

Janna Costanzo: “Looking for a taste of summer? ‘Summer in a cup’: a no-bake ten-minute desert, your new favorite treat of the summer. Watch the video for a special technique on making your cream fluffy.”

Kerwin Wong: “Berries in a jar! Raspberries finally processed and packed. Leftover strawberries from last month also finally finished off! Technical notes: raspberries cooked with a box of Bernardin dry pectin and the strawberries cooked with Certo liquid pectin. Initially end of ladling taste tests were positive. And on a side note... I find making marmalade much more satisfying!”

Sherry Murphy: “A Strawberry Mousse Cake celebrating a family birthday. Light and delicious!”

Beverly Kouhi Soloway: “I made some strawberry sauce, which made me think of my Finnish-Canadian heritage—and a favourite of many Thunder Bay-ites—Finn pancakes! Many of us like this combo: bacon and eggs on top of Finn pancakes, and strawberry sauce, too!”

Retta Collins: “Okay, we're going to try our hand at German Rumtopf. Hubby got this old original German pot, and we’re starting it off with fresh Ontario strawberries. We’ve decided to use only local fruit. Hoping to add cherries next! Fingers crossed we are doing this right! 🍓🍓🍓”

Yvonne Howard: “The preserved results of a strawberry-picking expedition to Jordan [Ontario]. Strawberry jam (with pectin), strawberry rhubarb jam (traditional method, as I like the rhubarb cooked down) and strawberry lemonade concentrate from The Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving.”

Sarah Hood: “I’m so lucky to have raspberries in my tiny Toronto backyard: enough this year to fill six yogurt tubs, and with my own rhubarb and my stepdaughter’s red currants, enough to make about three dozen jars of various types of jam. 😋😋😋 ”
  • Alice Mac (top left): “Such a wonderful time of year for berries and other fruit. Just out of the oven: a blueberry apricot custard tarte.”
  • Melissa Campbell (top right): “Not a lot of currants this year, because I share with the birds, but perfect for my breakfast tomorrow. I soak ½ cup rolled oats with ½ cup sour cherry juice, ¼ cup plain yogurt, 1 Tbsp chia, 1 Tbsp local maple syrup. In the morning, I will top with these red currants. Very refreshing way to start a hot and humid Ontario morning!”
  • Marcarie Riel (bottom left & right): “This is my Bumbleberry Pie I just made. First time baking this type of pie and doing a cross-stitch pattern. The pie is cooling and I can't wait to dig in! 😋”
  • Elaine Dixson (top left): “I think I’m late to the berry fest, but then not all Canadian pickables are ripe in the summer. Chokecherries won’t be ready for another couple of months, so I’m cheating: this is my syrup from last year’s batch. The classic use is on pancakes, but I put it over ice cream and in ice-cream floats, or just as a drink in soda or ginger ale. PS: If you want to try making it, ignore the recipes online that add water and/or pectin to the juice. Just add your sugar and keep boiling it down until you get the consistency you want. Otherwise, you’ll never get the real flavor that makes chokes so special!”
  • Elka Weinstein (top right): “Blueberry cake (from an Amish recipe posted by Anong Migwans Beam.)”
  • Mairi Kathleen (bottom left): “Classic strawberry jam! Recipe handed down from... the pectin packet! 😉”
  • Mya Sangster (bottom right): “Strawberry Jam, receipt was from The Practice of Cookery by Mrs. Dalgairns. Last year I used a receipt from The Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffald. Both of these receipts called for equal amounts of fruit and sugar.”
  • Sandra Kell-Cullen (top left): “Fresh Raspberry Glazed Pie with Whipped Cream.”
  • Jeanine O'Carroll (top right): “I have one red currant bush in my backyard. I am having a bumper crop this year. I got ten small jars of jam out of the first pick. The next pick will be frozen for muffins in the winter. Yum.”
  • Judy Corser (bottom left): “’Tis the time of blackberries on the West Coast.”
  • Maya Love (bottom right): “Yesterday I had an opportunity to urban-forage for red currants through our Neighbourhood Buy Nothing group. Two hours of picking berries led to late-night jamming, yielding four jars of “priceless” red currant jam.”
Join the Culinary Historians of Canada!

The membership year runs from one annual general meeting (usually late September/early October) to the next. Download a membership form here and join us today! 

2. News and Opportunities

Royal Fair Returns... but not until 2022
The 2021 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair will not take place in person this year. The organization looks forward to welcoming guests to its 100th anniversary celebration in 2022.

However, the 2021 Royal Food Competitions will go ahead! Now's your chance to show off all the gardening and baking skills you’ve picked up over the last year. With record-breaking entries in 2020, the competition is hotter than ever. Details on how to enter this year’s edition, including Competition Books, will be available on the RAWF website shortly.

Tomato Preserving Tips
Master Food Preservers of Sonoma County (California) present Veggie Happenings via Zoom on Tuesday, August 10 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. PDT. By August, home food gardeners are wondering what to do with all of those tomatoes. MFP members will demonstrate a variety of methods that allow us to preserve our tomato bounty. The event is free but requires registration.

Early Modern Maritime Recipes Conference
On Thursday and Friday, August 12 and 13, the The Early Modern Maritime Recipes through Theory and Practice conference will explore the historical recipe culture of settlers in what is now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Dr. Lyn Bennett of Dalhousie University and Dr. Edith Snook of the University of New Brunswick launched the Early Modern Maritime Recipes (EMMR) database in April 2019. This conference encourages interested scholars and the public to further engage with recipes from a region that occupied an important place in the Atlantic world. A series of seminars and workshops will highlight the varied approaches and perspectives that diverse scholars bring to the EMMR collection.

The event takes place virtually on Slack and Microsoft Teams. Admission is free; register via Eventbrite. Contact Holly Dickinson ( for further information.

Online Course on Jewish Food
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research presents an online course called A Seat at the Table: A Journey into Jewish Food, an exploration into the heart of Jewish food, with an emphasis on the Ashkenazi table. This course features hundreds of never-before-seen archival objects, lectures by leading scholars, and video demonstrations of favourite Jewish recipes by renowned chefs. The registration deadline is August 31.

What’s Cooking? (Member News)
CHC MEMBERS: Please let us know what you're up to! We'll publish all suitable news items received at by the 25th of each month. (Please write your announcement directly into your email window, with no attachments except a photo. Be sure to include a web link for further information!)

In honour of our July event featuring Mary Williamson and Elizabeth Baird discussing the new book Mrs. Dalgairns's Kitchen, some CHC members have been trying out recipes from Mrs. Dalgairns's cookbook, which was originally published in 1829.

Besides the strawberry jam, shown in the berry challenge roundup (above), Mya Sangster assembled Cake Sandwiches (p. 340), which, she says, are “made with a spunge [sic] cake a few days old.”

Sherry Murphy cooked a Raspberry Flummery (p. 336 of the third edition, 1830). “Taste is sweet and tart! Lovely dessert!” she says.

As usual, John Ota has a number of exciting events scheduled over the next few months. On Tuesday, September 14, he'll be speaking about the history of the kitchen to the North Toronto CFUW (Canadian Federation of University Women). On Saturday, September 18, he makes a virtual visit to the Cobourg Museum (Ontario) to talk about Lucy Maud Montgomery's kitchen. Then on Tuesday, November 9, he'll address the Rainier Chapter House (Washington) of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims in Plymouth.

Samantha George just started working with the Ontario Navy League and their private archival collection, researching the maple sugar cake campaign they launched in 1941 for the Royal Canadian Navy and Merchant Marine. By 1942, Halifax was issuing 1,000 maple sugar cakes a day to the sailors departing for Europe, to ensure that those crossing the North Atlantic were consuming enough calories to help with the biting winds and cold. The Maple Sugar Cake campaign was strongly supported by the community branches of the Navy League, and by the Women's Institutes of Ontario. Her ambition is to write a paper on this campaign in early 2022.

Fiona Lucas has written the entry for Catharine Parr Traill in the online Palgrave Encyclopedia of Victorian Women's Writing. (To access the full encyclopedia, you need to create an account and pay a small fee to read, download, and/or print entire articles. Only the introductions are visible to preview.)


Photo by Jacobsimmonds - own work, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0,

Langar at Gur Sikh Gurdwara (Abbotsford. B.C.)
By Jane Black

Gur Sikh Gurdwara, also known as the Abbotsford Sikh Temple, is the oldest surviving gurdwara in Canada, and the only one outside India to be designated as a National Historic Site. As such, it also houses the oldest langar in Canada that currently presents museum exhibits. (A langar can be either the kitchen in the gurdwara or the meal prepared there.)

Cooking and serving a free meal is an important way for Sikhs to practice seva, the tenet of selfless service. At a gurdwara, anyone—regardless of religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity or caste—can receive a free meal. The meals are always vegetarian, so people of all faiths can partake. Males and females participate in the preparation, serving and cleaning up of the meal. Everyone who assists is a volunteer, and there can often be waiting lists in many gurdwaras to volunteer. As only male Sikhs were allowed to immigrate to British Columbia from 1905 to 1921, only men would have prepared and served the langar during the first ten years of the Gur Sikh Gurdwara’s existence.

Construction began on Gur Sikh Gurdwara in 1908 and took several years to complete. Many Sikhs were employed in the forestry industry. The Trethewey family, who were local mill owners, donated lumber to the effort. It opened in 1911. The building itself displays architectural features common to Abbotsford at the time, such as a false front. It also has several features, such as a wrap-around veranda allowing entrance from four directions, that are unique: the temple builders adapted Canadian construction methods and materials to create traditional aspects of a gurdwara, including the langar in the basement of the building.

The Sikh community and their allies who gathered at the Gur Sikh Gurdwara were very involved in political activism and humanitarian efforts, not just within the Sikh community, but in many immigrant communities. The Gur Sikh Gurdwara members assisted the Indo-Asian community in Abbotsford by offering immigrants meals, accommodation and fellowship. It also provided a place to congregate in order to advance humanitarian causes such as Sikh enfranchisement and anti-racism, especially in labour, political and immigration spheres. Sikh religion has a history of embracing multiculturalism, a concept brought to Canada, as is perhaps most evident in the langar.

The Gur Sikh Gurdwara, which is run by the Khalsa Diwan Society of Abbotsford, is open to visitors seven days a week when COVID restrictions are not in force.

4. Food for Thought

Have you missed a book review? You can read reviews from all our past issues online. If you are a CHC member who would like to contribute, please contact Elka Weinstein at or Sarah Hood at

Martha Lloyd’s Household Book: The Original Manuscript from Jane Austen's Kitchen,
 introduced, transcribed & annotated by Julienne Gehrer. Foreword by Deirdre Le Faye (Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, July 2021). Reviewed by Sarah Hood (pictured above).

The library of historic recipes is expanding. It has always been possible to acquire copies (whether reprints or precious originals) of the most notable historic cookbooks. In recent years, compilations have been appearing regularly on various historical and literary themes (medieval, wartime, Dickens, Anne of Green Gables, and so on), with more and less accurate recipe interpretations enabling the modern home cook to reproduce meals of these periods. Lately, and best of all, we've been seeing more reproductions of historic texts with scholarly notes that interpret the historical context of the book itself and its recipes.

Two excellent Canadian examples have appeared recently: Fiona Lucas and Nathalie Cooke's edition of The Female Emigrant's Guide by Catharine Parr Traill, and Mary Williamson and Elizabeth Baird's exploration of Mrs. Dalgairns's The Practice of Cookery. Add to these a similar book which, though not Canadian, has the charm of a close association with the perennially loved Jane Austen.

Though ten years her senior, Martha Lloyd was a dear companion to Austen, who called her "the friend and Sister under every circumstance." Jane shared her home with Martha and—more significantly—her unpublished work. After Jane's death, Martha became a sister indeed when, at age 63, she became the second wife of Jane's brother Francis, a fact that hints at her character as a patient, affectionate and perhaps somewhat self-effacing woman of the Anne Elliot type.

This "Household Book" is Martha Lloyd's personal collection of handwritten recipes, copied from friends, family members and contemporary authors (Hannah Glasse, Charlotte Mason, Elizabeth Raffald). Hand-stitched and parchment-bound, it surfaced into public awareness in 1953 when a great-granddaughter of Francis Austen offered it to the Jane Austen Memorial Trust.

Now, Julienne Gehrer has painstakingly and lovingly transcribed the text, presenting it alongside a complete facsimile version of the handwritten original, with essays on not only the techniques and ingredients, but also Martha Lloyd's life and family, her connections to her famous friend and the culinary customs of her time. A section that will especially please Janeites is the one in which Gehrer tracks down the identity of each recipe contributor, a cast of characters that will be familiar to anyone who has read some of Jane Austen's published letters.

While offering fair warning that some components of these dishes could today be considered toxic (like bitter almonds), Gehrer decodes the archaic abbreviations and references such that any capable cook could be confident of achieving good results with recipes like "A Baked Apple Pudding," "A Carraway Cake," and the delicious "Swiss Soup Meagre"—yes, I've tried it before—a fresh potage of spring green vegetables with cream. Perhaps few of us will care to attempt some others: "Calves Head," "Wallnut Catchup," "To Make Cow Heel Soup." (Sadly, six pages of recipes have been lost over time, including "To Make Marmalade.")

It's perhaps surprising that no one has published a scholarly version of this little book before. But we may be glad it waited for the loving eye of Ms. Gehrer, because she has done it perfectly, and produced both a new resource for those who want to know everything about Jane Austen's life and times, and a very practical introduction to hands-on Georgian cookery.

Review Contributors
  • Elka Weinstein (CHC book review editor, Toronto)
  • Judy Corser (Delta, British Columbia)
  • Pam Fanjoy (Hillsburgh, Ontario)
  • Luisa Giacometti (Toronto)
  • Gary Gillman (Toronto)
  • Sher Hackwell (Vancouver)
  • Amy Lavender Harris (Toronto)
  • Sarah Hood (Toronto)
  • Frances Latham (Stratford, Ontario)
  • Ivy Lerner-Frank (Montreal)
  • Maya Love (London, Ontario)
  • Fiona Lucas (Toronto)
  • Jan Main (Toronto)
  • Lisette Mallet (Toronto)
  • Bennett McCardle (Toronto)
  • Dana McCauley (Toronto)
  • Dana Moran (Ajax, Ontario)
  • Valerie Sharp
  • Mary Lou Snow (Conception Bay, Newfoundland)
  • Meaghan Van Dyk (Abbotsford, British Columbia)

5. Events of Interest

Compiled by Jane Black, Kesia Kvill, Sarah Hood & Julia Armstrong

Some museums and other sites have been able to admit visitors again, following COVID guidelines in their province, but check their websites before turning up at the door!

6. International Conferences

Compiled by Kesia Kvill


September 7 to 10 (Rome, Italy)
Theme: Eating on the Move (19th–21st Centuries)
Host: Roma Tre University

September 16 (Virtual, Alberta)
Theme: Reconciliation, Inclusion, Community, and Innovation
Host: Alberta Museums Association

October 28 to 30 (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Theme: Making Sense from Taste: Quality, Context, Community
Host: Aarhus University

Note: Blended digital and in-person


February 11 to 12 (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Theme: Food and the Environment: The Dynamic Relationship Between Food Practices and Nature
Host: University of Amsterdam
CPF Deadline: September 15, 2021

May 30 to June 1 (Dublin, Ireland)
Theme: Food and Movement
CFP: From March to October 2021

October 22 to 23 (New York, USA)
Theme: Imagining the Edible: Food, Creativity, and the Arts
Host: Marymount Manhattan College, New York
Call for presentations is open.
Across the far-flung regions of Canada, a lot is happening in the fields of food and history. This monthly digest is a forum for Canadian culinary historians and enthusiasts to tell each other about their many activities. This is a place for networking and conversation about Canadian culinary history happenings. Each month, Digestible Bits and Bites is shared with members of the Culinary Historians of Canada and other interested persons who ask to be on the distribution list. 
The Culinary Historians of Canada would like to share this digest with a wide audience. You are encouraged to post or forward this information. 


  • To receive their free monthly edition of Digestible Bits and Bites, interested readers need only send a request with their email address to the editor.
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