Yesteryear’s recipes stir curiosity, tempt taste buds

Cover of a local church group's collection of recipes, some well known, some not so. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

Cover of a local church group’s collection of recipes, some well known, some not so. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

A book of “tested recipes” provides a smorgasbord of 1931 Welland-area tastes and a who’s who of local businesses.

Tested Recipes is the title of the book, compiled by the Ladies’ Aid of Crowland United Church. Handwriting on the cover gives an endorsement: “good cream pie, easy recipe” the fading script notes.

It’s part of my local history archive, one of several books that offer a connection with Welland of yesteryear. I had it out a few days ago and thought it could be turned into an interesting read.

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Although I could find no reference to Crowland United Church in local listings, there is one for Cooks Mills United Church (office) on Guest Road. Some of the small rural churches have closed in recent years, that may be the fate of Crowland United.

The book’s recipes fall into 19 categories – everything from soups, bread and biscuits, and meats and vegetables to pickles and relishes, canning and preserving, sandwich fillings and beverages.

Each section is introduced with a quote, for example: Bread and biscuits – “Chief nourisher in life’s feast” (Shakespeare); Salads – “To make a perfect salad there should be a mixer for oil, a spendthrift for vinegar, a wise man for salt, and a madcap to stir the ingredients (unattributed); and Beverages – “Except the water boiling be, Filling the teapot spoils the tea” (unattributed).

Each of the recipes is accompanied by the name of the person who submitted it. Many of the names are still well known in the part of Welland that was formerly Crowland. Some examples: Matthews, Carl, Young, Hagar, Horton, Schisler, among others.

This company had "years of experience" in heavy moving; the ad says its prices are reasonable and "our work is satisfactory."

This company had “years of experience” in heavy moving; the ad says its prices are reasonable and “our work is satisfactory.”

A baker’s dozen of selected dishes: corn soup, noodles,  baked macaroni and sausage, meat loaf,  baked chops,  Hungarian goulash, Boston baked beans, stuffed green peppers, creamed salmon, rhubarb and date pie,  pumpkin pie with chocolate meringue, carrot pudding and Christmas pudding.

Many of the dishes carry on today of course, handed down from one generation to the next but a few may have faded into obscurity. Three examples: Washday Pudding, Stepmother Cookies and Singing Hinney.

Here follows Mrs. Asa Carl’s recipe for Singing Hinney:

“Measure a qt. of sifted flour, add to it 2 large tsps. of baking powder and a tsp. of salt and sift again. Then with a knife, rub in a large tbsp. of lard until the flour looks granular. Beat 1 egg light and mix with a cup of milk; use this and as much more as is necessary to make a rather soft dough, Roll out and bake on a greased griddle. When done on one side turn over and let it cook on the other. Both sides should be a pale brown. Split open, butter and put together again. Cut in three-cornered pieces and serve hot.”

Hmmmm. Does anyone still make this dish? And what is the significance of the name?

The book also provides readers with some interesting “General Rules” and tips about “Stains” and “Large Amounts for Home Catering”.

Four of the general rules: To shut in juices, meat should be subject to a high heat for a short time; Dry meats are improved by being larded; Do not pierce meat while cooking; and, Salt and pepper draw out juices.

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Four tips on removing stains: Grass – soak ½ hour in alcohol; Mildew – 1 qt. boiling water, add 1 tbsp. of chloride of lime and soak article 15 and (sic) 20 minutes Then wash thoroughly; Tar or Grease – Cover spot with lard or any grease and wash in warm soap and water; Fruit Stains – Boiling water poured from a height.

And finally, a couple from large amounts for home catering: Boiled coffee to serve 100: 1 3/4  lbs. coffee, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. salt, 5 gallons of boiling water. Beat the eggs slightly, add shells which have been washed and crushed; add salt and ½ cup cold water. Tie loosely in cheesecloth. Drop in kettle of boiling water; cover tightly, boil very gently 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the bag. Note – Eggs may be omitted; Sandwiches – 1 large Sandwich loaf (3 lbs) cuts 60 to 70 slices. 1 small sandwich loaf cuts 20 slices. 1large loaf requires ½ lb. butter and ¾ lb. filling, if filling is made into mixture to spread as cheese or meat.

The members of the Ladies Aid were thoughtful enough to pay tribute to local businesses that advertised in the book. They asked readers to patronize the businesses for being good enough to support the project.

Many of the businesses were big names around town for years: Vaughan Seed Company, Welland Dairy, Welland Flour and Feed, R. Morwood Co., and optometrist N. J. Penwarden, among others.

But others were small businesses of the day: Betty Bowman Beauty Shoppe, Miss McAllister (When in Welland…We invite you to call and see our stock of high class corsets, lingerie and specialty dry goods) and The Betty Shop (hemstitching, embroidery, buttons covered) and others.

Ad by a local small business.

Ad by a local small business.

The little recipe book (44 pages) also has a tribute to all those who cook:

“We may live without Poetry, Music and Art,

We may live without conscience and live without heart;

We may live without friends, we may live without books;

But civilized men cannot live without cooks” – Owen Meredith.

Hear, hear! I’ll drink to that!

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)

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