Category Archives: Vegetables

Day 365: Mock Duck and Potato Puff

Tonight is New Year’s Eve and the last day for my self-imposed commitment to cook every day in 2014 from The New Galt Cook Book, a local community cookbook published in 1898. This occasion requires some celebration food and yet my family isn’t exactly in a celebratory mood. I decided to make something that will be recognizable and comforting. Without conscious planning it is also a bit of a nod to the meal I made on Christmas Day. Tonight’s supper is Mock Duck and Potato Puff. The Mock Duck recipe doesn’t list a contributor but the Potato Puff was shared by two contributors — Mrs. Capron and Mrs. Webb of Waterloo.

Striploin steak pounded flat and ready for the next step.

Strip loin steak pounded flat and ready for the next step.

My tasters purchased a 300 gram strip loin steak so that I could make this mock duck recipe. There’s another recipe for mock duck in the cook book but it uses liver. This version sounded much more appealing and much closer to the mock duck both my grandmothers used to make. The first step was to prepare the meat. After opening the package I pounded the steak with a meat mallet to flatten and tenderize it.

Stuffing placed on the steak ready to roll.

Stuffing placed on the steak ready to roll.

I made a the stuffing/dressing from at least three slices of white bread. I tore the slices into small pieces and then seasoned with salt and pepper. Next I chopped a tablespoon of butter into bits to mix into the bread crumbs. I poured a dribble of milk into the bowl and mixed using my hands until everything was well blended. Finally I took the stuffing and patted it into place on the steak making sure the edges were clear.

Mock Duck ready for the oven.

Mock Duck ready for the oven.

I began rolling the stuffing-topped steak like a jelly roll and then tied it in three places with string. It looked very small to feed five people but I put it in a baking pan and popped it in the 350 F. oven for 1 hour. As instructed I basted it with pan juices about three times. Once the hour was up I removed the pan from the oven and let it rest while I finished up the rest of the meal.

Earlier I’d made some mashed potatoes and let them cool. I took 2 cups of the mashed potatoes and put them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of butter I’d melted. I stirred until the potatoes were very smooth and creamy. I beat 2 eggs in a bowl until they were light and then added 1 cup of cream with a few shakes of salt. When these liquids were well blended I mixed them into the potatoes. Should I grease the deep baking dish? I decided not to add anything except the potato mixture. I smoothed the top and put the Potato Puff in the oven at 400 F. while the meat rested.

I checked on the potato puff after 15 minutes and it was almost done. It was beginning to brown. I sliced the mock duck and placed them on a platter with some parsley sprigs. The top of the potato puff was a bit browner a few minutes later so it was time to sit down to our New Years Eve evening meal circa 1898. My tasters were eager.

Billiards Sporting Life Dec 28 1895Mrs. Capron and Mrs. Webb of Waterloo both contributed other recipes I prepared in 2014. I’m assuming they are Mrs. J. W. Capron of Galt and Mrs. J. H. Webb of Waterloo. Annie Fairweather (or Farnveather) Scott was born in Galt around 1855 to Scottish born parents John and Catherine. John was a marble dealer and Annie was one of approximately twelve children according to Waterloo Region Generations. She was 24 when she married 26-year-old Joseph Wolverton Capron from Paris Ontario in November 1879. He was a Congregationalist and she was Presbyterian. His occupation is listed as gentleman. and their first child Anna Gertrude was born in January 1880 in Goderich where Joseph was now a Billiard Room Keeper according to her birth record in Their next child Josephine Catherine was born in March 1883 in Chatham Ontario where again Joseph is operating a billiards room.

CapronThe family must have moved to Paris Ontario by March 1886 since it is there that little Catherine Josephine died of a fever when she was three years old. They were in Galt by September 1887 when their last child Mary Austin was born. Joseph’s occupation again is listed as a gentleman. Although I can’t find the family in the 1891 census they must have remained in Galt since it is there that Annie (Mrs. Capron) died of stomach cancer in March 1895. This means that her recipe in the 1898 revised Galt Cook Book appeared after her death. By December 1895 Joseph is playing billiards professionally and his name appears in an American paper called Sporting Weekly.

Mrs. J. H. Webb's house in Waterloo. (Photo WPL)

Mrs. J. H. Webb’s house in Waterloo. (Photo WPL)

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.

Mock Duck ready to slice.

Mock Duck ready to slice.

Our New Years Eve meal turned out great. To accompany the mock duck and potato puff I served some plain cooked carrots. Mock Duck made using this recipe is wonderful. There was just enough meat for the five of us to each receive one slice. All my tasters really liked the mock duck including the two of us who are not keen on steak. It came out tender and slightly pink inside but with a nice browning on the outside. The stuffing was good too. This is an easy recipe to make since it requires little attention and looks nice when served. It makes a cut of meat go further and can probably be made with a cheaper steak. I didn’t have enough pan juices to make gravy so I served the mock duck slices with some leftover gravy from another meal. This recipe can time travel as it stands but has lots of potential for creative cooks today. The dressing can be enhanced and the meat seasoned in different ways, plus it can be cooked for a shorter time to appeal to those who like meat medium rare.

The Potato Puff is fine. Everyone liked it but it isn’t all that different from mashed potatoes. The bonus is that it uses leftover mashed potatoes — something that doesn’t reheat well in a world without microwave ovens. Making Potato Puff turned my somewhat lumpy mashed potatoes into a nice creamy version that had some extra calories and nutrition from the eggs. However, again I think this recipe could be transformed by a modern cook through changing the seasoning and cooking method. To help this recipe time travel to 2015 add some interesting seasonings perhaps simply some chopped chives, then bake in individual dishes to present with the rest of the meal.

Thank you for joining me on this daily journey through time. I hope you enjoyed exploring the food and lives of people connected to Galt Ontario in 1898.  Happy New Year to you all!


Slices of mock duck.

Slices of mock duck.


Mock duck is a particularly nice dish for luncheon. For a family of four, select a beefsteak weighing three-quarters of a pound, and free from loose fat or stringy pieces. Mix bread crumbs with salt, pepper and a little butter; chopped very fine. Moisten slightly and spread over the steak, half an inch in thickness, but not extending to the edges. Roll like jelly-cake and tie in three or four places with string. Place it in the oven for an hour, basting frequently, and it will come out nicely browned. Cut in slices and serve on a platter garnished with sprigs of parsley.


Potato Puff fresh from the oven.

Potato Puff fresh from the oven.

Mrs. Capron and Mrs. Webb, Waterloo

Take two cupfuls cold mashed potato, two eggs, butter,cream or milk; stir into the potato two tablespoonfuls melted butter, beating to a white cream before adding anything else. Put with this two eggs whipped very light and a teacupful of cream or milk, salting to taste. Beat all well, pour into a deep dish, and bake in quick oven until it is nicely browned. If properly mixed it will come out of the oven light, puffy and delectable.



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Day 343: Baked Onions

Tonight I thought I’d make one of the recipes in the 1898 New Galt Cook Book that takes more time, a contrast to last night’s quick recipe. Mrs. Robertson of Woodstock’s recipe for Baked Onions requires several hours of periodic attention.

I picked out 2 onions, washed them and put them in some salted hot water. I left them to boil for a 1/2 hour and then drained and added more salted water. Again I left them to boil for a 1/2 hour. They were tender so I removed the pot from the heat. I guess I was supposed to change the water once more. Instead I drained them and placed the boiled onions on a towel while I prepared the tissue paper. I waited to make this recipe until it was the season for wrapping gifts so that I had easy access to tissue paper. I took two layers of tissue paper and buttered the inside. I wrapped an onion and twisted the top. Then did the same with more tissue paper and the other onion. I placed the wrapped on a baking sheet and baked them for an hour at 300 F. Then I took them out of the tissue and tried to peel them. They are challenging to peel since they are very soft and very hot but I managed. I got them into a frying pan and started browning them in a bit of butter. I didn’t bother serving them with melted butter since they were already very buttery. Once they were browned I took them out of the frying pan and was ready to taste.

Mrs. Robertson of Woodstock Ontario shared quite a few recipes so I’ve talked about her several times over this year and yet I’m not sure about her identity.

Baked Onions take several hours to prepare and its debatable whether it is worth boiling, baking, and frying the same onions but it is certainly unique. They come out very soft and mild but I kind of miss the onion flavour. I think the browning in the frying pan could be skipped. They were nice fresh from the oven since they were already a bit caramelized. The smell was wonderful and they reminded me a bit of roasted garlic (except for the flavour). The long slow baking in the oven transforms the onions in the same way that garlic is transformed. Today it is a bit expensive to prepare onions this way as it uses a lot of electricity. However, in the days of cook stoves used for heating the home, this would be a good way to prepare onions in the winter. The stove is on anyway and onions are a cheap and plentiful winter vegetable that must have become boring by the middle of the winter so this technique makes sense in that context. The flavour grew on me and I ended up eating both onions! Can you imagine eating two onions? You’ll have to use your own judgement as to whether this recipe times travels to 2014. It works but might not fit a modern lifestyle. Try it if you are curious and have the time to boil, bake, and fry over more than two hours.

Mrs. Robertson, Woodstock

Wash but do not peel the onions, boil one hour in boiling water, slightly salt, changing the water twice in the time. When tender drain on a cloth and roll each in buttered tissue paper twisted at the top, and bake and hour in a slow oven. Peel and brown them. Serve with melted butter.

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Day 342: Saratoga Chips

Ever have one of those days? I expect that it is a universal feeling every so often and probably occurred in 1898 too. How did women cope on those spilled and sour milk days? They couldn’t turn to take out food, a frozen meal, or even very many meals in a can. Pork and beans was one of the few canned convenience foods available. And convenient it would be since even today it is time-consuming to make from scratch. However, making potato chips seems hard today and yet the recipe for Saratoga Chips in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) sounds quite easy so I’m going to try it tonight. Hopefully I’ll get some nice chips out of it. The recipe was contributed by two women and since they must have given the same recipe to the first edition of the cook book, and this time it appears just once but with both their names attached. They are Mrs. Capron and Miss Andrich.

I pared one potato and then sliced it as thin as possible. I put the slices in a bowl of cold water. I couldn’t wait until they curled so I started heating the lard. I dried a few of the slices and then dropped them carefully in the hot fat. As they turned golden on one side I turned them to the other side. When both sides were golden or the edges were crisp I removed them and left them on the towel. I sprinkled a bit of salt on top and then it was time to taste.

Mrs. Capron is a bit of a mystery. I’ve tried the recipes of Mrs. J. W. Capron a few times and she is probably the same person. I made her Raisin Pie and Potato Rolls earlier this year.

Miss Andrich is possibly Rosie Andrich, daughter of Martin and Rachel Andrich. Rachel contributed recipes so it is likely that her daughter Rosa Lydia “Rosie” did too. Her other daughter Emma Marie is another possibility. Emma’s 17 in 1891 while Rosie is 22. Both young women were born in Galt. Emma married in 1899 and died in 1950 while Rosie was married in 1890. She turns up in her father’s household in the 1891 census along with her husband but someone must have forgotten and listed this newly married woman under her maiden name. It looks like the most likely contributor is Emma!

I couldn’t wait to taste my Saratoga Chips so they were very hot when I took my first bite. The very thin ones were nice and crisp. The thicker slices ended up more like a pan-fried potato. Both were very tasty. I’m not sure what they would be like if I’d waited for the raw slices to curl but I liked them just fine made my quick way. This really is close to convenience food especially if you are a speedy peeler of potatoes. This is also a good recipe to try if you are nervous about working with hot fat. It only takes a small amount. I had about an inch of liquid fat in my pot. I always keep my safety gear handy just in case of accident.

Apparently Saratoga Chips are named for the community in New York state and have been around since 1853 according to this website that is bringing back the name. There’s more about the history of the potato chip here. Whatever their history this recipe for Saratoga Chips can time travel easily to 2014.

Mrs. Capron and Miss Andrich

Pare and cut some potatoes very thin; put into a pail of ice-cold water, and let them stay until the ends curl up, then dry them with a towel, and cook them in hot lard until brown; sprinkle a little salt over them.

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Day 328: Hashed Potatoes

I made myself a nice long simmering round steak with potatoes and other things. Opening a fresh bag of potatoes inspired me to make the Hashed Potatoes recipe in the 1898 New Galt Cook Book since I wanted to have some potatoes for supper. The recipe was contributed by Mrs. Robertson of Woodstock.

I boiled 6 potatoes but decided just to use 3 for this recipe. I had peeled them before I boiled the potatoes in salted water. I chopped them very small and added some salt and pepper. I used a bit of beef stock left from preparing the steak. I added some finely chopped onion as well. I mixed everything together and then melted some butter in a frying pan on top of the stove. When it was nice and hot I poured in the potato mixture and patted it flat in the pan. I assumed that the recipe meant the potatoes shouldn’t cook too fast so I kept the heat on medium. I didn’t have any idea how long it would take for the potatoes to brown on the bottom so I kept peeking. It took much longer than I expected and in the end I didn’t exactly have one solid mass of browned potatoes. Instead my peeking meant I’d broken up the potatoes quite a bit. In the end I had something resembling hashed brown potatoes. It was time to taste.

One of the best recipes I’ve made so far was contributed by Mrs. Robertson of Woodstock. I made her wonderful chocolate pie about a month ago on day 295 but I’m still not certain about her identity. She could be Jessie Fisher, a woman who was married to storekeeper George E. Robertson. However, there are several Mrs. Robertson’s in Woodstock in the 1890s.

Potato varieties in the Peter Henderson seed catalogue 1898.

Potato varieties in the Peter Henderson seed catalogue 1898.

There were many different varieties of potatoes available to the home gardener in 1898. It can be challenging today to find seed potatoes to grow and the potato varieties available at the grocery store are limited to white, red and Yukon gold (a newer type that didn’t exist in the 1890s). I buy white or Russets when I can find them both for my personal use and when I try historic recipes. It’s great when I get a chance to cook with heritage varieties but that opportunity doesn’t come along very often.

Hashed Potatoes are good even though I wasn’t able to make them exactly as described in the recipe. I really liked the addition of onion and the crispy bits of fried potatoes are one of my favourite tastes. The beef stock enhances the potatoes and makes them just a bit different from the usual fried potatoes.I’ll try making this again and I’ll try to be patient so that it cooks in a more solid piece.



Mrs. Robertson, Woodstock

Take six cold boiled new potatoes, mince them and season them with salt and pepper, adding a little milk, or a little stock, as you prefer. A scant half cupful of liquid is generally sufficient. Melt a tablespoonful of butter in an omelet pan and when the pan is very hot pour in the potatoes. Spread them evenly, and set them a little back on the stove or in the oven, well covered, to brown. When they are a golden brown on the bottom, fold them over like an omelet and serve. The addition of a little parsley minced or a teaspoonful of onion, gives a new zest to this dish.

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Day 326: Mushrooms Broiled

There are a few recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) that I’ve saved for days when I’m tired or uninspired. Today is such a day. My work schedule involves working seven days in a row and then just three the following week. Today is day six but I have tomorrow off so that I can go speak to the Historical Society of St. Boniface & Maryhill. I want to test out my presentation tonight so I”m going to make a simple recipe, at least I hope it is a simple recipe, called Mushrooms Broiled. It was contributed by Mrs. James Young.

The challenging part of this recipe is figuring out how to “broil . . . over a clear fire” when I don’t have the kind of stove typical in 1898. This is still the era of coal or wood fired cook stoves so it would be a bit easier to broil. This is when I miss my parents’ gas stove. Instead I’ll be using the broiling element in the oven of my electric stove.

The first step was preparing the mushrooms. I “gathered” the mushrooms at the grocery store rather than in the wild as indicated in this recipe. Although I’ve eaten wonderful wild puffballs and morels they were gathered by experienced people who kept their harvesting locations secret. I bought several whole mushrooms of the typical cultivated type available in grocery stores. They were nice and fresh so I pared them and although I hated to do it, I broke off the stems. I dipped the naked stemless mushroom caps in some melted butter and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. I moved the oven rack close to the top of the oven and preheated the broiler of my stove — a feature I rarely use. Next I put the prepared mushrooms on the broiler pan and slid it into the oven. I kept a close eye on them and pulled the pan out and turned them after two minutes under the broiler. The other side got the same treatment before I pulled the pan out and put the broiled mushrooms on toast on a plate. I was ready to taste.

Mrs. James Young is a familiar contributor to the cook book. She shared approximately 45 recipes covering all sorts of categories. She was born Margaret “Maggie” McNaught in Scotland in 1837 and married James Young in 1858 at her parents’ home in Brantford. She lived in Galt from then on until her death at 90 in 1927. Mrs. James Young was well-connected in the community since her father was a manufacturer and her husband owned a newspaper and was politically active. She was active also in the community belonging to various women’s groups.

Mushrooms Broiled weren’t quite as good as I’d hoped. I’d expected them to cook down more. Instead they were still very firm but broiled on top. I also didn’t use enough seasoning. Cultivated mushrooms don’t seem to have enough flavour for this quick cooking style. I think there’s potential for this recipe and I’m glad I was reintroduced to broiling, a technique I rarely think of using when I cook. I’ll try it again and at least this showed me just how many different cooking styles and ingredients were in use in 1898 in Galt Ontario.

Mrs. James Young

Gather them fresh, pare and cut off the stems, dip them in melted butter, season with salt and pepper, broil them on both sides over a clear fire. Serve on toast.

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Day 309: Squash

Back in February I made Baked Squash but tonight I’m trying a recipe simply entitled Squash. No one is claiming the recipe in The New Galt Cook Book (1898).

Hubbard Squash from Peter Henderson seed catalogue 1898

Hubbard Squash from Peter Henderson seed catalogue 1898

This recipe uses a technique that I’ve never run across. It should be interesting. I had a kabocha squash. This is a type of squash that wasn’t available here in 1898 but it is what I had on hand. I don’t mind removing seeds from pumpkin and squash but I always find cutting squash scary. But I was brave and cut the squash in half and then into quarters and peeled it. Peeling the squash wasn’t much fun either. I put the squash pieces in cold water for 1 hour. Next I put them in a pot of hot salted water and boiled for an hour. Big mistake … well perhaps the mistake was in not paying attention as the water boiled away! I took the surviving pieces out of the pot and attempted to pat dry but they were so soft it didn’t really work. A little butter and mashing helped and it was time to taste.

Summer Crookneck Squash from Peter Henderson seed catalogue 1898

Summer Crookneck Squash from Peter Henderson seed catalogue 1898

This recipe mentions Hubbard squash, a variety I find hard to find now. I remember it fondly as a child.  Today I see winter squashes like butternut, acorn and newer varieties like dumpling and spaghetti squash. Very occasionally I see turban squash but the only Hubbard squash I’ve seen lately are tiny. Unless you garden it can be difficult to find summer squashes. Zucchini is a summer squash but not one familiar to people in Galt in 1898. Instead they would be growing and buying things like yellow crookneck squash.

I was looking forward to some nice squash for supper. Instead I ended up with salty squash that didn’t taste nearly as good as a nice baked squash. I can’t imagine why someone would bother to cut and peel squash when simply cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds and popping it on a baking sheet with a bit of butter in the holes makes an easy and delicious squash. Perhaps there’s a reason this recipe is anonymous. I certainly wouldn’t claim it!


Pare, quarter, take out the seeds, and lay in cold water for an hour. Boil in hot salted water thirty minutes for summer squash; twice as long if the “Hubbard” or other varieties of winter squash are used. Take up piece by piece, and squeeze gently in a clean cloth, put back into the empty dried pot, and mash quickly and smoothly with a wooden spoon. Stir in a heaping tablespoonful of butter for one large squash, or two small ones. Season with pepper and salt; heat and stir till smoking hot, then dish and serve.

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Day 301: Scalloped Turnips

The weather was strange today. It was almost warm this morning but it is a bit dreary tonight and I just don’t feel like making anything complicated from the 1898 New Galt Cook Book. I’ve decided to make Scalloped Turnips using a recipe from an anonymous contributor.

I bought some turnips at the Kitchener Market on my Saturday off and they are still fine. Remember that turnip and rutabagas are not the same thing! I peeled one and cut it into slices. I put the slices in saucepan and poured water over the top. I added some butter and salt and left it to simmer. Once the turnip was tender I drained the slices but saved the rest of the water since it was needed for the sauce. I set the turnip aside to make the sauce. I put a teaspoon of butter in the saucepan and added 1 teaspoon of flour. Next I poured in some of the liquid. I kept adding liquid until the sauce was liquid but not too much. When the sauce was thick I buttered a baking dish and put some turnip on the bottom, sprinkled some pepper, and then poured some of the sauce on top. I repeated this with the rest of the turnip. I topped the dish with some grated Parmesan cheese and bits of butter. The final step was to pop the dish of turnip into the oven at 350 F. for about 15 minutes. I didn’t think it needed a long time since everything was already hot and cooked. Once the top looked done I removed the dish from the oven and dug into my Scalloped Turnips.

Parmesan CheeseThe use of Parmesan is a big surprise to me. I had no idea it would be available in Galt Ontario in 1898. The Canadian Grocer magazine included an article on Hints on Buying, Keeping and Cutting Cheese by Henry Wright of A. F. MacLaren & Co. (Toronto & Stratford). I’ve clipped the section referring to Parmesan cheese.

I liked this far more than I expected. I like turnips. I don’t love them but I like them and I think that has to be the starting point for this recipe. The taste of turnip is still present but it is subdued by the sauce and cheese. I appreciate the sauce since it isn’t based on milk.  This recipe has inspired me to try adding some slices of turnip the next time I prepare scalloped potatoes. I make a wonderful version of mashed potatoes that includes parsnips and turnips. It has been enjoyed by people who rarely eat vegetables so I like a combo scalloped potato and turnip might work too.


Cut them into slices, stew them in water, adding a little butter and salt. When tender draw off what liquid is left and use it for sauce, which you make of a heaped teaspoonful of flour and the same of butter. Now butter a dish, put in a layer of the sliced turnips, dust with pepper and spread some of the sauce over it, then another layer of turnips, and so on until they are used up. Dust some grated Parmesan cheese over the top and put flakes of butter here and there. Bake in oven until light brown, and serve in the same dish. Bread crumbs may be used instead of cheese.

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