Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 105, January 2022
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In this issue we cast one last look over the holiday table, with responses to our December cooking challenge. CHC Facebook friend Adam Berkelmans of The Intrepid Eater writes: “I love trying out other cultures' traditional food for Christmas. This year it was pan-roasted wild Canada goose breast, German Weihnachtgans style, stuffed with chestnuts, apples, marjoram and onions, then finished off with a buttery thyme-and-juniper pan sauce. On the side, I served tart braised red cabbage and cheesy homemade spaetzle."



  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


Salt Rising Bread Workshop!

Start the year with a new culinary skill! On Saturday, January 15, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. EST, Salt Rising Bread author and researcher Genevieve Bardwell will lead us in a workshop on making this unique bread. (Lots of history, too!)

Salt rising bread is a uniquely North American bread that originated in the Appalachian region during the 1700s. This bread tradition was passed down orally through the centuries and shared across West Virginia and Western New York—and right up into Canada, where Catherine Parr Traill made it in Ontario—as well as Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina.
In addition to a workshop showcasing how this unusual bread is made, Bardwell will share theories about how the bread got its name: from coddling a "starter" in heated salt to the use of chemical salts (potash, baking soda, table salt) that establish a unique alkaline fermentation, enabling the bread to rise. Stories reveal a heritage rich in folklore as well as baking skills. Often a salt rising bread starter was passed among neighbours, while recipes were handed down through the generations. Comparisons with similar Indigenous breads from other world regions will be discussed. Q&A will be ongoing during the workshop.
Genevieve "Jenny" Bardwell lives in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania, USA, an Appalachian community where salt rising bread has been a part of life for over 200 years. In her quest to understand this beloved heritage bread, Bardwell and her colleague Susan Ray Brown spent decades extensively researching its history, lore and science. This quest has taken her to bread museums, bakeries and science laboratories across the United States, Europe and the Middle East, as well as into the kitchens of many elderly salt rising bread bakers.

Bardwell started Rising Creek Bakery in 2010 in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania, which continues to specialize in salt rising bread, shipping hundreds of loaves weekly throughout the US. With Brown, she co-authored the only book on this bread: Salt Rising Bread: Recipes and Heartfelt Stories of a Nearly Lost Appalachian Tradition (2016. St. Lynn's Press, Pittsburgh). She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and earned a Master’s in Plant Pathology from the University of Massachusetts. She continues to conduct research on wild fermented breads and teach classes about salt rising bread.

Admission: $19.10 (general); $11.34 (paid CHC members in good standing). Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Hearth Warming Holidays Report

By Sylvia Lovegren
Over two consecutive Sundays (December 5 and 12), the remarkable and always zesty author and CHC member John Ota spoke to Canadians from six different provinces about their winter holiday memories and traditions.

In Episode One, chef, comedian, CBC contributor and author of Salt Beef Buckets Andie Bulman talked to us from St. John's about holiday fare in Newfoundland, tantalizing us with talk of “slush” (her recipe involves Cool Whip, fruit juices and syrups), salt beef and the revelries on Tibb's Eve, the 23rd of December.

Food historian and CHC member Kat Romanow and activist, mother and lawyer Sydney Warshaw, founders of the Montreal-based Jewish food history group The Wandering Chew, talked about Hanukkah traditions, including some fascinating details about the origins of latkes—the potato pancakes now so associated with the holiday, which replaced the dairy-based ricotta pancakes that had been the standard fare. Finally, Edmonton native, Nanaimo resident, cook, and cookbook collector Charlie Galan talked about the rise of Indigenous cookery among the Coast Salish of Vancouver Island, the allure of candied salmon, and the always popular Nanaimo bar.

Episode Two brought us CHC member Kesia Kvill, a PhD candidate in WWI foodways at University of Guelph, who talked about holiday food in Norwegian Alberta, with mouth-watering memories of krumkake (a crisp waffle cookie) and the Norwegian potato bread known as lefse. CHC member Lisette Mallet, president of the Société d'histoire de Toronto (Toronto Historical Association) explained the interweaving of German and French culinary threads in Acadian Christmas in New Brunswick, showed off some spectacularly large gingerbread cookies and talked about Acadian meat pies, which are emphatically not tourtière!

Finally, Kristin Olafson-Jenkyns, author of The Culinary Saga of New Iceland: Recipes From the Shores of Lake Winnipeg (2020), described the foods of New Iceland in Manitoba, including smoked lamb, prairie chicken Icelandic style (you can substitute quail), rullupylsa (a spiced, preserved boneless lamb) and vínarterta, a traditional stacked cake quite different from the similarly named dessert found in Scandinavia. After both episodes, the speakers fielded questions from the audience.

Mark Your Calendar!

Ceramics and the 19th-century Canadian Table!

A collection of ceramic tableware on view in Toronto’s Gardiner Museum depicts idealized scenes of 19th-century Canadian life. Manufactured in England, these objects and others like them participated in the colonial project by imagining and asserting both national and colonial identities. In this lecture and gallery tour, Sequoia Miller, Chief Curator at the Gardiner, will discuss how seemingly decorative objects engage complex questions around colonialism, political economy and cultural authority. Dr. Miller will also consider the role of museums in offering new and critical interpretive strategies for thinking through problematic historical objects. Look for details of time and date on the CHC website soon.

CHC Call for Papers

Be part of Culinary Chronicles: Occasional Papers of the Culinary Historians of Canada: Forgotten Foods and Flavours. Foods and flavours fill our plates, our senses and our imaginations. An errant whiff of spice transports the memory to a long-gone cozy kitchen. A radio jingle instantly recalls a favourite childhood cereal. A jellied salad at a funeral commemorates a dearly departed aunt. An inherited handwritten recipe card recalls a celebratory occasion of long ago. A grandfather's bitter comment reveals an unknown food scarcity. From such moments come personal insights.

Culinary techniques rejected but now reclaimed. Mysterious ingredients utilized by historical cooks. Cookbooks rescued by republication. Restaurants now the subject of historical plaques. Street foods from distant cities and cultures absorbed into very different multicultural suburbs. From such acts of remembrance emerge scholarly investigations.

CHC seeks papers both personal and scholarly for inclusion in the second issue of Culinary Chronicles: Occasional Papers of the Culinary Historians of Canada. The theme is “Forgotten Foods and Flavours.” Your subject can be familial, local, regional or global; your tone can be nostalgic or critical or investigative—provided you see through a Canadian lens.

You might memorialize a grandmother’s recipe or recall a personal Proustian moment. Perhaps you are involved in a community project reviving some forgotten cooking technique. If you are a PhD candidate, you could summarize your investigation into food trends of an earlier decade or generation.

What are your first memories of encountering pizza, avocado, falafel, jerk, spaghetti, perogy, Yorkshire pudding, dim sum, kiwi, moose mouffle, burfi, teriyaki, tikka masala? Are you embracing foods your Indigenous grandparents were forced to forget? If your ancestors came as settlers to Canada, did they bring their food traditions or neglect them as part of the willing or unwilling assimilation process? Are you reclaiming the foodways heritage of your Punjabi, Jamaican, Bolivian, Kenyan or Ukrainian ancestors?

Final papers can be from 500 to 5,000 words, plus full endnotes instead of a bibliography. Recipes and images are welcome. Student papers are welcome. All communications should be directed to Fiona Lucas at

  • Proposals: February 1
  • Acceptance by CHC: February 15
  • Submission of papers: May 1
  • Publication: October 1

CHC Membership Directory Arrives Today

If you are a paid-up CHC member, today is the day that you will receive your copy of the 2022 Membership Directory via email. If you don't receive it, or if it includes information about you that is no longer up to date, please let us know at

If you didn't manage to renew your membership in time, you can still join or renew on our website. If you're not certain of your current membership status, contact Membership for up to two people residing at the same address or two members of the same organization is only $30 per year or $55 for two years.

A "Florendine of Oranges" made during a workshop led by CHC Lifetime Member Mya Sangster at the 2013 Mad for Marmalade event.

January Cooking Challenge: Citrus!
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, citron and grapefruit are at their best in the winter. This is the time of year when marmalade-makers rejoice, but there's also much culinary joy to be had with fragrant tajines, aromatic pastas, tart lemon squares, tangy key lime pie, refreshing cedrata and of course the classic lemon meringue pie.

For inspiration, you might enjoy having a look at Canadian Cookbooks Online on our website, where you'll find links to scores of Canadian cookbooks of the past. If you post pictures and comments with the hashtag #citrus to our Facebook page before midnight on Sunday, January 23, we’ll feature at least one of your entries in our January newsletter.

Photo hints: To get the best results with your photos on Facebook and in this newsletter, follow these tips:
  • Make sure your image is big (at least 1MG in file size, or at least 1,000 pixels wide).
  • Make your image wide rather than tall. If you're taking a picture of something round, like a cake, include lots of blank space on either side of it.
  • Keep the camera still; balance it on a chair back or a stack of books if necessary.
  • Use as much light as possible. Outdoor light is great, especially on a cloudy day when there are no sharp shadows. Unless your room is very well lit, place the food near a window, turn on all your lights, and even point extra light sources (ring lights, flashlights) at it from a few different angles
  • Put your food on a tea towel, a wooden counter or a similar neutral background rather than the stovetop.
  • Decorations are nice, like a flower in a vase, a charming salt-and-pepper set, an antique spoon or a decorative plate. But don't go overboard: remember, it's the food we want to see!

Holiday Challenge Report

It seems that Canada's winter holidays could well be nicknamed the Festival of Tourtière. Apparently, numerous CHC members and friends make their own takes on this scrummy meat pie every year. Read on to see what other holiday foods are dear to our hearts as well!


Knut Dee: “Roast goose, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roast winter vegetables and gravy for Christmas Eve, Scotch egg for Christmas brunch, and a pork and venison tourtière for Christmas dinner. Lots of classic, hearty, winter food this Christmas.”

Patti Grant: "Here's mine. I didn’t have any pickled beets in the cupboard, but found this beet and onion purée: our new favourite!"

Rob Galbraith Moyer: “This year's tourtière …”

Arie Ann Brentnall: “My Christmas Eve tourtière! I tend to keep making them throughout the twelve days of Christmas, as it's the only time of year I typically make tourtière. This year is Berkshire pork, bison, deer, bacon and beef.”

Shelley Posen: “This year’s Christmas tourtière was less than a success. I decided to bake it in a high, boat-shaped Noble Pie mould, and layered it as usual with sliced apples and a few dried cranberries for a sweet-salt-savoury contrast. That worked well enough, but my mistake was, the day before, being too stringent in cooking off the stock that the spiced ground pork stews in (in hopes to keep the bottom crust unsoggy), then defatting the cooled meat too well the next morning—I mean, why? The result looked impressive but was lacking in flavour. Next year…”

Nancy L. Foster: “Two tourtières were made during the football game.”

Susan Shaw: “I made a batch of Carrot Pudding for Christmas this year. My mother made this Christmas treat every year when I was young. Rather than steaming it, though, she canned it. It is so rich that a walnut-sized serving was plenty, but everyone loved it and looked forward to it. The large jar is one of my mom's, probably canned in the early 80s. I keep it in my fridge as a tribute to her, although I'm not sure it would be safe to eat. The recipe she used was lost in a move, so I used a recipe from one of my favourite recipe books, produced by Nabob in 1973.”

Stephanie Thomas: “For the holidays I made one large and four individual Christmas puddings. The recipe is from the Baking for the Victorian Christmas Table workshop/presentation booklet (available here). The recipe is from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families (1845), and adapted for the modern kitchen by the CHC's Sherry Murphy.”

Jeanne Huntley: “I was channelling my Great Gramma, Gramma and Mom earlier this week as I made our Christmas carrot pudding. I had to render the beef fat from butcher shop trimmings because grocery stores in my area no longer sell the ground suet I’ve been using for years and I didn’t want to simply substitute lard—ask me why; I’ll tell you I really have no idea except that some traditions die hard. My husband likes it with traditional hard sauce, my daughter likes caramel sauce, and grandson wants whipped cream on his. My SIL and I take a hard pass. Recipe would be approximately 130 years old and is included with photos [on the CHC Facebook page].”

Davy Love: “Christmas Eve old English Gala Pork Pies.”

Ryan St. Peters: “My Nova Scotia family has been making meat pies for more than 150 years, enjoyed after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. It’s an Acadian recipe of shredded pork and beef, layered with onions, sliced potatoes and summer savory. It’s not tourtière or rappie pie, but has similarities to both.”

Micheline Mongrain Dontigny: “Pork Feet, Chicken and Meatballs ragout is a favourite Quebec traditional dish frequently served during the Christmas holidays. It is very popular at the New Year Dinner. It is the grilled flour that give the special flavour to the sauce. It can be prepared four days ahead and also freezes well.”


Stephanie Thomas: "Before COVID, for over 15 years, I used Mackenzie House's recipe adapted from Mrs. Beeton's Everyday Cookery and Housekeeping Book, 1865 edition, to make shortbread cookies (with not-so-authentic red and green sugar on top) and would take a large tin into the office just before the holidays. They were always gone by 10 a.m.  Although I am still working from home I decided to make them this year, along with a vegan version, for friends and family.  I also made some with candied peel."

Susan Shaw: “I made thumbprint cookies from my 1938 edition of the Purity cookbook and shortbread from the Fleischmann's recipe. I replaced the flour with almond flour and the sugar with monk fruit. They both worked well and taste almost like they should (with just a hint of erythritol). It's nice to be able to eat Christmas baking again.”

Beverly Kouhi Soloway: “The first of my festive baking: pulla (Finnish cardamom-flavoured coffee bread). I had to do a taste-test of course, so we sliced some for breakfast. Six loaves came out of the oven yesterday, and I am going to have to hide them so we have some for Christmas (or maybe just make more!)”

Laurie Schwartz: “I love kitchen tools and gadgets. This iron makes Krumkake, a Scandinavian rolled wafer cookie, scented with cardamom.”

Farrell Monaco: “If I don’t get the cover of Company’s Coming with this, I’m going to be pissed. Merry Christmas!”


Mya Sangster: “For many years, the mincemeat recipe that I used for my mince pies came from the Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse. This year, I tried a different recipe, one from Modern Cookery by Eliza Acton."

Sherry Murphy: “Here is a sweet loaf of bread with raisins and candied orange peel using Eliza Acton’s recipe for Geneva Rolls, which will be sliced for a Common Bread and Butter Pudding for Christmas! Recipes from Eliza Acton‘s Modern Cookery for Private Families."


Lorraine Fuller: “Spent my afternoon making Christmas Cake. According to my mom, it was my grandmother's recipe. She used to do donate one each year to raffle off at the local Legion.”

Chantal Véchambre: "The tradition of the Christmas log in France dates back to the 12th century, and it was a real log. Go back to the Celts and the feast of Yule, when a log was burned to celebrate the winter solstice …. From a pagan rite, we have moved on to a religious rite, as is often the case.

In all regions of France (which I know the best), it was surrounded by lots of rituals and beliefs that made it traditional until the 19th century, and of course with different names: tréfou (“trois feux”, or three fires, because it had to burn for three days), suche in Burgundy, kef an nedelec in Britanny, cacho-fio in Provence, tronco in Basque country, and so on.

It could be sprinkled with wine to attract the good harvest, or with salt to keep witches away. It was necessary to keep it lit for the duration of the Midnight Mass, on pain of misfortune. It was also a tax, as in the days of the Middle Ages, when peasants had to bring a large log to their lord. Even the ashes were adorned with certain virtues and were to protect the house from lightning and fire from year to year, also to ward off rats, also to be mixed with seeds to promote harvests ... just to mention a few.

All this remained very "woody" until the 19th century, when we began to find some stories around a new log-shaped pastry, in St Germain des Près in Paris, in Lyon, in Monaco. But this cake (or almost) became really popular in France after WWII only. It has of course had many different names, but a consensus was born around the “Bûche de Noël.”

My picture shows the traditional one I made at The Dep (hello, Len!) two years ago in December, and again for a talk-tasting with the Société d’Histoire de Toronto (hello, Lisette!) at Campbell House. It is a very traditional shape, as my grandmother Madeleine made every Christmas, with chocolate and chestnut cream. At this period of the year there is a brilliant competition of sophisticated bûches by the most famous pastry chefs in the world, but I like my rustic one!

Happy holidays, dear gourmet Culinary Historians of Canada. Have a great time with family and friends and keep safe 😊🎄🎄🎄

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

Taste Canada Nominations Open January 19
Taste Canada will accept submissions for the 2022 Awards starting on January 19, 2022, for books written by Canadian authors and published between January 1 and December 31, 2021. Submissions close on February 23, 2022. All details, including full eligibility requirements and submissions process, will be released later in January.
Bishop's University Teaching Positions  
Museums Summit Postponed
Given the uncertainty of Omicron, the inaugural Museums/Musées Canada Summit 2022, originally scheduled for January 16 to 19, has been postponed, but not cancelled. Organizers are monitoring the numbers with a plan to hold the in-person Summit later in February or early March in Kitchener-Waterloo.

The event will focus on leadership, travelling exhibitions and the future of the industry, providing mentorship, networking and creativity through dialogue and professional development opportunities. Highlights include a tour of the Stratford Perth County Museum and a virtual presentation from Australia with keynote speaker Janet Carding, former CEO of the Royal Ontario Museum and Vice President of the CMA. A joint session with young professionals presenting a vision for the future for equity, diversity and inclusion at museums will be included in addition to a variety of other events.

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!)

CHC members Sherry Murphy and Mya Sangster spent several days in December animating the historic kitchen at Toronto's Campbell House, using the 19th-century hearth and displaying foods cooked from historic recipes using both historic and modern facilities.

Pictured above is a Quince Blanc Mange made in an antique mould by Sherry from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families of 1845. Below: Mya's Marchpane Royal, a confection made with sugar and almonds, from Richard Dalby’s The Cook’s Dictionary of 1830.

3. Destinations

Algonquin Logging Museum, pt. 2 (Algonquin Park, Ontario)
Text & photos by Jane Black
The Algonquin Logging Museum is a 1.3 km self-guided trail that starts at the staffed visitor station. Station 1, the Camboose, was discussed in November’s issue of Digestible Bits & Bites. This month, we look at Station 15, which consists of three reconstructed buildings: a blacksmith’s shop, a bunk house, and in between, the cookery.
Changes in transportation allowed more permanent camps by the early 20th century, as men could be transported to logging sites instead of having to hike back and forth every morning. Unlike the cambooses (see November’s Digestible Bits & Bites), there were separate buildings for blacksmithing, sleeping and eating.

Not only was the cookery a separate building from the sleeping quarters, it also had luxuries such as tables with benches and windows. Missing, however, was an icebox, electricity or refrigeration in most camps. This was reflective of the communities in Northern Ontario, some of which are still not connected to the electrical grid today. Some camps had railways built to them to ease the shipping out of logs; this allowed more and better provisions to a camp.

The menu, while still simple, was much improved, even during The Great Depression. Finnish immigrants were a driving force in unionizing or uniting workers during the inter-war period, which also put pressure on camp owners to improve living conditions, including food. While fresh-baked bread remained a staple, cooking in the oven eliminated the sand or ash oftentimes found in the camboose days. There were butter and jams for the bread. Vegetables, prunes, raisins, corned beef and other foods were now available.
Fresh meat, such as a slaughtered pig, also made its way to the table, with animals being slaughtered on-site. Some head cooks may still have supplemented food stocks through fishing, but it was less a necessity as a larger variety of canned and preserved goods could be ordered for delivery into the camp on a more regular basis. Without beds in the kitchen, they had ample room to store supplies and tables to prepare food. A large metal-lined washbasin under a window meant dishes could be washed inside: a much-appreciated upgrade on a cold winter’s day!
The still all-male contingent of loggers ate supper seated at long tables where they could help themselves to pots of coffee. Some might expect a collection of young men to be quite boisterous at meal times. Quite the opposite, however, was true. The rule of silence during meals, which had originated in the camboose, still permeated camps, relaxing only long enough for requests to pass food, condiments or the coffee pot.
After WWII, working conditions improved considerably. Cafeteria services were outsourced to contractors. Communal living was still the norm until 1958 when a camp in Marathon introduced two-man private rooms. By then, the workforce had drastically changed as well, with workers being less seasonal. Instead, young men newly married or engaged, or new immigrants to Canada, would work in the camps for usually no more than five years in order to build up a nest egg for the future before finding work in a mine or factory.

Sports and other recreational activities were available for the men whose work day was often reduced to 10 hours. Access roads, mechanized transport and prefabricated housing shifted logging camps into a site that is quite similar to the modern camps, leaving the handmade log cabins of camps to be reclaimed by the forests. If their logs weren’t reclaimed by workers first!

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

Food for Thought will return next month. Thank you to all our 2021 book reviewers!

Review Contributors
  • Elka Weinstein (CHC book review editor, Toronto)
  • Julia Armstrong (Toronto)
  • Luisa Giacometti (Toronto)
  • Gary Gillman (Toronto)
  • Sher Hackwell (Vancouver)
  • Sarah Hood (Toronto)
  • Ivy Lerner-Frank (Montreal)
  • Maya Love (London, Ontario)
  • Fiona Lucas (Toronto)
  • Jan Main (Toronto)
  • Bennett McCardle (Toronto)

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


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

April 28 to 30 (Lisbon, Portugal, or online)
Theme: Experiencing & Envisioning Food: Designing Food for Change
Host: The FORK Organization & Faculdade de Arquitetura, Universidade de Lisboa
CFP Deadline: January 21

May 14 (Leeds, England)
Theme: Fish
Location: Quaker Meeting House, Friargate, York.

May 30 to June 1 (Dublin, Ireland)
Theme: Food and Movement

June 23 to 28 (Tacoma, Washington)
Theme: The Future of the Past
Host: Fort Nisqually Living History Museum

July 8 to 10 and July 15 to 31 (Oxford, UK, and online)
Theme: Portable Food: Food Away from the Table
Host: St. Catherine's College, Oxford
CFP Deadline: January 31, 2022

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. 


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