There are very few things that I would consider saving from a burning house (of course, once family and the dog are safe) but one thing I’d try and save would be Mom’s cookbook.
My mother wrote all of her, and our, favourite family recipes by hand into a book for each of her children. Yes… all by hand, it’s a 165 page book and she has seven children. I clearly haven’t taken very good care of mine but I do think that a cookbook should look well-used. I would suspect a pristine cookbook is one that isn’t very good and that’s certainly not the case here. I am determined to make all the recipes in the book.; my own, much less ambitious, Julie and Julia project.
The third recipe that I’m featuring here is for oatmeal cookies. There’s a reason Mom’s recipes are all so good, they have been curated, tried, tested and refined over years of baking. The other two recipes I have shared so far are Cinnamon Biscuits found here and Delicate Lemon Pudding found here.
There is definitely a special affinity among Nova Scotians for oats which surely comes from their Scottish ancestry. Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language defines oats as: “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” I have read also that the Scot’s retort was “That’s why England has such fine horses and Scotland has such fine men.” I’d have to say that this is a fine cookie.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp soda
- 2 tbsp hot water
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup raisins
- Cream butter brown sugar and vanilla together. Mix soda with water and add to creamed mixture. Combine flour, salt, nutmeg and oats and mix well. Add to creamed mixture and add raisins, mix thoroughly.
- Use a small scoop to form cookies and bake on a lined cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes.
The Ross’s up on the highway had a cherry tree when I was little. I don’t ever remember if it produced fruit but I do remember the shadow it cast over the road and that was a welcome bit of shade on our summer walks to Zeno’s store for treats. In my home in Nova Scotia homemade pies were a wondrous thing, not unusual but a treat none-the-less. Rhubarb, apple, lemon and my Dad’s favourite raisin pies were flaky and tender, tart and sweet.
Try these little tarts, they are a wonderful mix of flaky pastry and tart filling in just the right size of serving.
Tart Cherry Tarts
For the pie crust I use the No-Fail Pastry recipe off the Crisco box and it hasn’t failed me yet.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup or stick of Crisco shortening
- 4 to 8 tablespoons of ice cold water
- Blend flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Cut half inch cubes of chilled shortening into flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pea sized pieces.
- Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice cold water over the flour shortening mixture. Using a fork stir and draw flour from the bottom of the bowl. Add more water by the tablespoon, mixing until mixture just comes together. Don’t over mix or the pastry becomes tough.
- Form dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap and chill.
- Place half of dough onto a well floured surface. With floured rolling pin gently roll out the dough from the centre.
- I used paper liners in a muffin tin and used a plastic container the size of a flattened paper liner as a pastry cutter.
For the filling:
- 1 19 fl. oz. jar or can of sour pitted cherries in light syrup
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- Combine the cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Simmer, stirring often, until filling thickens. About 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Fill the prepared pastry shells and top with a smaller pastry piece.
- Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove when just golden. Cool on a rack and enjoy. Makes 9 tarts.
I like the idea of making smaller tarts rather than whole pies. Tarts are easier to serve and save because, like a cake, once you cut into a pie it’s never that pretty whole again. Also young boys love to steal them and eat them from their hand.
You know the saying; it’s five o’clock somewhere? Well that holds true for lobster season on the east coast. It’s always lobster season somewhere!
According to sources (my parents) in Nova Scotia, the wharves are piled high with lobster traps waiting for the season to open. It’s a very exciting time of the year in our area of the province… boats are put in the water and small fishing communities are busy again. Unfortunately this winter that never stops giving has also wreaked havoc on the lobster season and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has delayed the season because of ice conditions. The season in the Northumberland Strait area where I’m from runs from May 1st to June 30th and DFO has said that it will update the delay status closer to the 30th of April.
DFO carefully controls the opening and closing of lobster season in the Maritimes so, as seen on the map above, the seasons alternate around the year to give the population adequate time for regrowth and regeneration. The female lobster spawns millions of eggs, of which only one tenth of one percent grow to maturity. It’s a hard life for lobsters in the North Atlantic, it takes six to nine years for lobsters to reach a size that can be harvested. DFO lists their objectives with regard to inshore lobster management as 1. to not damage productivity so the ecosystem stays healthy, 2. to protect the biodiversity of the ecosystem to ensure resilience and 3. to protect against modification of the ecosystem by chemical or physical influences.
The lobster catch has risen steadily in Nova Scotia in the past few years. A decade ago the catch was an average of 3,000 to 4,000 lbs per boat but the recent landing average per boat for the two month season in the Northumberland Strait has risen to 10,000 lbs. The landings along the South Shore in 2012 were an astounding three times the 50 year average. The Bay of Fundy and much of Cape Breton has also seen large increases in landings. Given that lobster exporting is worth $385 million annually in Nova Scotia, a healthy industry is in everyone’s best interest.
God speed and safe travels to all fishers in the Northumberland Strait area. Dinner tables around the world thank you.
You can find more information about the DFO lobster management program here.