Monthly Archives: April 2014

Day 120: Mexican Catsup

Today is the last day of April and four months of daily cooking from The New Galt Cook Book (1898). The April showers of the past few days are bringing flowers and hopefully soon there will be some fresh local asparagus and greens to prepare using these recipes. However, in the meantime there are lots of cool weather recipes to try. One of the oddest is a recipe for Mexican Catsup using canned tomatoes. The recipe was contributed by Mrs. G. A. Graham.

I’m including this among the winter recipes since it uses canned tomatoes. I’m making half the recipe and using commercial canned tomatoes rather than home canned ones. I opened two cans of whole tomatoes and put them in a pot along with 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of ground ginger, 1 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon dry mustard and finally 2 cups of vinegar. I was very careful to pay attention to whether these measurements were tablespoons or teaspoons. I left it to cook for ten minutes while I chopped 2 1/2 onions. I added them and gave the catsup a good stir before I left it to simmer. I had no idea how long it would need to cook. I checked after an hour and it had reduced a bit and the onions were getting soft. I should have cut up the tomatoes as they were still in large chunks. I decided to remove it from the heat and taste my Mexican Catsup.

Imperial Hotel ad in the Jubilee Souvener of Galt

Imperial Hotel ad in the Jubilee Souvener of Galt

Mrs. G. A. Graham is Annie May Nichol. It looks like she was born around 1860 in Toronto. She met and married George A. Graham in 1881. His heritage was Irish and he was a hotel keeper. Their daughter Evelyn Martha was born soon after. Finding out more about this family is a challenge as there seem to be two similar George and Annie Grahams in Ontario. Evelyn married in 1906 and was soon divorced. She married again in 1910.

I have no idea how Mrs. Graham got or created this recipe or why it is called Mexican Catsup, but it is a good find. Do not expect Heinz style ketchup. This is a more liquid ketchup and therefore more typical of the 1890s than today’s thick style. But this is a good sauce. It has a bit of a zing from the red pepper and the ginger but it won’t burn your mouth or even makes your lips tingle. Heat lovers cooking this for their modern taste might want to increase the heat a little. For the rest of us this is a good sauce to use for seasoning other dishes. If you are a fan of home preserving and are anxiously awaiting the first fruits and vegetables of the season, this recipe might tide you over. Pull out those last few jars of home canned tomatoes or buy a few cans and start making some catsup.


Mrs. G. A. Graham

Four cans tomatoes, half teaspoonful red pepper, three tablespoonfuls salt, five tablespoonfuls sugar, two tablespoonfuls ground ginger, three tablespoonfuls cinnamon; one tablespoonful mustard, four cupfuls vinegar. Cook for ten minutes, then add five large onions chopped fine and boil until onions are done.


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Day 119: Cure for Neuralgia

Unfortunately today I had my first migraine in a long long time. It’s been so long that I no longer have any of my normal medication. Instead I’ve been using over the counter medication but I thought I could also try Mrs. McDonnell‘s recipe for a Cure for Neuralgia. The term neuralgia seems to have been used for any sort of nerve pain.

Days like this make me wonder what it was like for someone in 1898 when The New Galt Cook Book was published. Last night’s recipe came from a woman whose daughter died of nervous prostration. I suspect that would be considered an anxiety disorder or other mental health issue. Pain of any sort came with mixed messages. There was admiration for someone suffering stoically but also an assortment of drugs (morphine, opium, laudanum) to deal with pain that were available at the pharmacy and hidden inside all sorts of patent medicines. Today those drugs have to be prescribed and carefully controlled.

The most innocuous of Mrs. McDonnell’s remedies is the one for neuralgia and that’s what I’m trying today. I was afraid the smell would be too much to take while the migraine was at its worst but once it had eased this afternoon I decided to risk this remedy. I always keep a kerosene/coal oil lamp around in case of power outages so I put a bit of the fuel on a cloth and applied it to my temples where I was feeling the most pain. I didn’t expect any change so I was shocked to realize it helped … only for a few minutes but it did help. I suspect the real reason was simply applying a soft cloth and some pressure to the area. It was a good reminder to try a trick I learned years ago to apply pressure to specific areas to provide some relief for headaches. I don’t recommend trying these old remedies, particularly those taken internally, or for serious disorders. Even this one involves a flammable liquid. I put the cloth in water as soon as I was finished.

Mrs. McDonnell is likely Annie Hume. She was born in Galt around 1853 but her parents were from Scotland. When Annie was 28 in 1882 she married Robert Wallace McDonnell at the church responsible for this cook book. They had three daughters named Marion, Ruth and Achsah. Via Ancestry I was able to see a picture of Annie and her daughters. Hopefully, I will receive permission to share it with you. I’ve also discovered that Achsah Ena McDonnell established a research bursary at The University of Toronto to be given to a medical student. However, the description of the Robert and Annie MacDonnell Bursary mistakenly uses “his” instead of “her”!! Interestingly one of her sisters left a will which was recently used in a law class examining estate errors. Click here and search for Achsah. You’ll find the passage.

Mrs. McDonnell

Two ounces tartaric acid, four ounces Epsom salts, two ounces citrate of magnesia, two ounces baking soda, two ounces cream tartar, six ounces icing sugar. One teaspoonful to a glass of water
FOR NEURALGIA —- Pour a tablespoonful of coal oil on a soft cloth, and squeeze well through it, and put it on where the pain is felt.
FOR BURNS — Wet cotton batting with coal oil and put on the burn, keeping there until it is well.

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Day 118: Gingerbread

Today the wind is gusting and various parts of my neighbours’ houses are banging in the wind. It reminds me of November weather instead of the end of April so I’m going to make Mrs. Richard Jaffray‘s Gingerbread recipe from The New Galt Cook Book (1898).

I made a cup of tea and let it cool. I also creamed the 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of white sugar together and then added 1 egg. Once they were well blended I added 1 cup molasses. I mixed in 2 teaspoons of baking soda and then alternated the tea and flour. I ended up using 4 cups of all purpose flour to get a batter that seemed the right texture. I spread the batter in a greased rectangular pan. It baked for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. I was looking forward to sampling this gingerless gingerbread. Did you notice there isn’t any spice in this recipe. I’m not sure if it was deliberately not included or if it was missed. I decided to follow the recipe as written.

Mrs. Richard Jaffray is Mary Havill (or Havel). She was born in 1848 in Galt. Her parents James and Mary Ann were born in England and her father worked as a plasterer. Mary married Richard Jaffray sometime before 1869 when she was about twenty. He’d been born in England like her parents but his occupation is a printer. Eventually he was the mayor of Galt. Mary and Richard had three daughters and in 1891 they were still in their teens or early twenties living at home. The middle girl was teaching and the household included a lodger named Kate Nairn who was 45. They also had two domestic servants Margaret Kerr (47) and Annie Underhill (24). The eldest died in her early thirties of nervous prostration after several years according to the death register. Mary died in 1922.

Although there isn’t any ginger in this gingerbread it still seems like gingerbread. I assume that is due to the molasses. Could the tea have anything to do with it? Why was it included? I have no idea. I was really surprised that I liked this cake. I’d make it again simply for the novelty of a cake containing tea but it is also a very good dessert.

Mrs. Richard Jaffray

One egg, well beaten, one cupful molasses, one cupful sugar, one cupful butter, one cupful cold tea, two even teaspoonfuls soda, flour enough to make the right consistency.

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Day 117: Salad Dressing

Today I was able to witness the induction of some local people into the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame. Then after work I helped someone move. It is now 9pm and so I’d like to make something interesting but not too challenging. I’m going to make Salad Dressing. There are three dressing recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) and this one was contributed by Mrs. Pattinson of Preston.

I followed the instructions which are quite straight forward. I cracked a medium egg and put the contents in a small bowl. I added 1 heaping tablespoon of white sugar and 1 tablespoon of butter. I skipped the salt since my butter is salted. I had some Keen’s prepared mustard so I put 1/2 teaspoon in with the other ingredients. I’m assuming mixed mustard would be mustard made at home using dry mustard powder or else you could purchase prepared mustard. Keen’s dry mustard powder has been around for over 200 years and the prepared version is only a little “younger”. I added the final ingredient 1/2 cup of vinegar. A coffee cup and a cup are only slightly different measurements.  I beat everything as well as I could and then poured them in a saucepan. The butter didn’t incorporate very well. Perhaps I should have melted it first? I put the saucepan on the burner and  turned the heat to low stirring all the ingredients. I gradually turned up the heat once the butter had melted and kept it on medium until it was boiling. I kept stirring while it boiled since I was afraid it might burn. It took about five minutes for it to thicken enough to resemble cream. I removed the pan from the heat and left it to cool before using it.

As usual the Waterloo Region Generations website was helpful in finding out a bit more about Mrs. Pattinson of Preston. She is probably Mary Elizabeth Erb who was born about 1853 in Preston. Her father Abraham was also born in Preston while her mother Margaret was from Scotland. Mr. Erb had a flour mill called A. A. Erb and Brothers. Mary Elizabeth (24) and George Pattinson (25) married in Mildmay Ontario in 1878. George was born in England and came to Canada as a teenager.  He eventually owned a woollen mill in Preston. Ironically George Pattinson is in the Waterloo County Hall of Fame for his contributions to Preston and the county. He was a member of the provincial parliament, worked to bring hydro electricity to Preston and was involved in prison reform and the development of the workman’s compensation act. Mary Elizabeth and George had six children but unfortunately their oldest daughter Alice died before her tenth birthday of congestion of the lungs brought on by a Remittent Fever. Mary Elizabeth didn’t see many of her husband’s accomplishments as she died in February 1898 of septicemia (blood poisoning).  Their oldest son died in 1915 as a soldier in the First World War.

This version of a boiled salad dressing is okay. Mine ended up with a bit of “scrambled” egg in it. It is a bit sweet so I might ease back on the sugar a little. Otherwise it is an acceptable boiled dressing. My prepared mustard was a hot one so that might have helped offset the sweetness.


Mrs. Pattinson, Preston

Beat together one egg, one good tablespoonful of sugar, one piece of butter size of an egg, one pinch of salt, one-half teaspoonful of mixed mustard, one-half coffee-cupful of vinegar. Put all into a saucepan and gradually come to a boil. Boil until the thickness of cream.

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Day 116: German Apple Pie

I’m attempting another pie tonight. This time it is German Apple Pie using a recipe contributed by Mrs. Radford for the 1898 New Galt Cook Book.

I had my “servant” make the pie crust again so I simply started the recipe the way it was written. Well, except that I had two decisions to make: what kind of apple and should they be peeled or unpeeled? I had bought some Spy apples at the market last Saturday for these kinds of recipes. They were local and starting to look a little rough since I’d left them out rather than putting them in the fridge. Spy apples are a nice sour apple and good for pies. I peeled two of them and then cut them in quarter and removed the core. I placed them in the pie crust. These are large apples so two cut in quarters fit the pie perfectly — except for the middle. I found one apple that had a bad section and used it to fill the remaining small centre area. Next I placed bits of butter on the apple and in the spaces around them. I sprinkled at least 5 teaspoons of white sugar over the pie. I baked it at 375 degrees F. for about 35 minutes. The crust was browning and the pie looked done. I put another pie plate upside down on top of the pie and left it in the oven for another 5 minutes. I removed everything from the oven and let it cool a bit before tasting.

Mrs. Radford was once Mary Robertson Philip, daughter of Helen and John Philip (both born in Scotland). Mary was born in 1864 or 65 in Galt Ontario where her father was a doctor. Today Galt is part of the city of Cambridge. Mary was about 17 when she married another doctor 24-year-old Joseph Henry Radford in 1882. The couple remained in Galt and had two children Helen Martha and Frederick Henry. Dr. Radford’s accomplishments had enough significance to merit entry into the Cambridge Ontario city Hall of Fame. He was even the Galt’s mayor at the time this cook book was published. Unfortunately it is harder to find anything about Mrs. Radford’s accomplishments or interests. I assume that she entertained in their home and accompanied her husband on various official occasions.

Cooling this pie is important since mine was quite liquid with so much butter and sugar. However, I was eager to sample and so the liquid spread all over. This recipe turned out quite well for something so simple and quick to make (so long as you have a servant in the freezer section of the grocery store to provide the crust). This type of open face apple pie doesn’t suit everyone including me usually but I liked it. If I’m going to eat an apple pie the apples need to hold their shape but also be soft since it isn’t my favourite kind of pie. This recipe gives you control over every aspect. What sort of apple? How firm? Don’t put the cover on at the end if you like a firmer apple in your pie. No spices were added to this pie so a modern cook might want to consider it although I liked it plain. You can control the amount of sugar and butter added to the pie.

Mrs. Radford

Line a pie plate with paste cut your apples into quarters and lay on paste till covered, then put butter cut in small pieces and sugar all over the top. Bake in a quick oven, cover with a tin a few minutes before taking from oven to soften the apples.

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Day 115: Puff Pudding

After two amazing restaurant meals today in Toronto, I’m finding it difficult to think of food or cooking. However, I found a quick recipe that sounds very different from any of the food I consumed today. I’m going to make Puff Pudding, a recipe contributed by that mysterious S. B. C. for The New Galt Cook Book published in 1898.

I have my doubts that this recipe is going to turn out. I’ve decided to cut it in half to avoid wasting ingredients. I separated 3 eggs. As directed I mixed 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour with 1/2 cup of white sugar and the 3 egg yolks. It was at this point that I started to wonder how it would all turn out. The milk isn’t mentioned in the directions, only in the list of ingredients. Also I wasn’t sure how to add the butter and egg whites at the same time. I decided to add the 1/2 teaspoon of butter, then the 1/2 quart (2 cups) of milk and finally beat the egg whites and sort of lightly blend them with the very liquid batter. I used some small souffle cups as stand ins for the stone cups mentioned in the recipe. I forgot to butter the cups before pouring in some of the “batter”. I’m not sure it is going to matter. I set the cups in the preheated 400 degree F. oven and hoped they wouldn’t make too much of a mess if they boil over. I tried to fill the cups 3/4 full instead of to the top since I’m assuming they will puff up as suggested in the recipe title. I waited 30 minutes before daring to open the oven door. They were beginning to brown on top so I decided to remove them and taste.

Well, I was wrong. The recipe was correct and the puff puddings turned out fine. They were puffy on top and custard-like below with a bit of syrup around it. I consider this recipe a success even though I don’t like the result. This is going to appeal to the adventurous who don’t mind eggs or custard. Do butter your cups and perhaps melt the butter before adding to the rest of the ingredients. Otherwise you can follow the directions I wrote above and have yourself a simple dessert.


Six eggs beaten separately, six tablespoonfuls flour, one cupful sugar, one quart milk, one teaspoonful butter; beat flour, yelks of eggs and sugar, then add the well-beaten whites and butter.Bake in stone cups well buttered in a quick oven for half an hour.

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Day 114: Raisin Cake

It seems to be time to make another cake recipe from The New Galt Cook Book (1898). I know I made a cake just five days ago but there are 121 cake recipes in this cook book and so far I’ve made about 17 of them. Mrs. J. H. Webb of Waterloo has a recipe for Raisin Cake that seems to suit a cool April day.

As Mrs. Webb directs, I mixed together 1 cup of white sugar, 1/2 cup of butter and the yolks of 2 eggs. The egg whites went in a separate bowl. Next I mixed together in a third bowl the 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of corn starch and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. I decided to add some cinnamon as the spice and then forgot when started mixing in the 1 cup of raisins with the flour. I’m hoping that coating the raisins in flour will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake. Finally I beat the egg whites. I added the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture alternately with the 1/2 cup of regular 1 % milk. Sweet milk just means fresh rather than sour milk. I recently discovered it was possible to get non-homogenized milk. It is still pasteurized but hasn’t been spun to prevent the cream from separating. I’m going to get some to use in a few of the recipes in this cook book. It doesn’t matter for this recipe. The final step was to fold in the egg whites and then pour the batter into a greased cake pan. I baked the raisin cake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Mrs. J. H. Webb's home in 1906

Mrs. J. H. Webb’s home in 1906

Mrs. J. H. Webb of Waterloo is Helen Buchanan. She was born in 1851 in Branchton to John and Isabella. Her father was a farmer and a teamster. In the 19th century a teamster was someone who drove a team of horses or oxen not a member of a specific union for truck drivers. Helen was twenty when she married Doctor Joseph Hughes Webb in March of 1872. He had been born in Newmarket Ontario and was a Quaker. He is eventually listed as a Presbyterian like Helen. They have two children. Their first daughter Clara Belle dies when she is seven hours old. The doctor was unable to figure out why she died. The next year they have another daughter and also name her Clara Belle. By 1881 the little family have moved from Wilmot Township to the Town of Waterloo. Here’s their house in 1906. Dr. Webb seems to have been a general practitioner as his name appears on both birth and death records in the community. It must have been risky for their daughter and Helen as he cared for patients with all sorts of communicable diseases. Helen didn’t die until 1935 when she was 85 years old.

I like Helen’s raisin cake. It is a good basic cake that was quick to make and is sturdy enough to eat in one’s hand. It would be a good cake for a lunch box or to cut in small pieces for a tea party. It isn’t a fancy cake but would be a good family cake.  I didn’t miss the forgotten spices but it would probably be nice with cinnamon and spices of that sort. My raisins were well-distributed so the flouring worked. Modern cooks could consider substituting other dried fruit if you have a raisin hater in the family. Now to try to stop eating this cake!

Mrs. J. H. Webb, Waterloo

One cupful sugar, half cupful butter, half cupful sweet milk, two cupfuls flour, two eggs, one tablespoonful corn starch, two teaspoonfuls baking powder, one cupful raisins, spice. Stir sugar, butter and yelks of eggs together. Add whites last thing.


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