Tag Archives: Main

Day 362: Pumpkin Marmalade

We had another family Christmas celebration today and I made a beet salad from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book, the book I used everyday in 2012. After a wonderful potluck lunch, visiting with relatives, and music, I don’t want to make anything too challenging so I’m going to finish a recipe I started on Boxing Day. Today’s recipe from The New Galt Cook Book (1898) is for Pumpkin Marmalade and it was contributed by Mrs. Main and it takes several days to finish. I bought a pie pumpkin more than a month ago but it kept well in a cold part of my house. I did the first part on Boxing Day (December 26) and I’m completing the recipe today.

The first step was to cut the pumpkin open and clean out the “guts” and seeds. My sister took the seeds to toast them in the oven. Meanwhile I cut the pumpkin into slices and peeled it. Then I cut it into small chunks and weighed them. I had approximately 1 pound of pumpkin that I put into a bowl with 3/4 pound white sugar and 1 pint (2 cups) of water. I covered the dish and put it in the unheated sun-room to keep cool and sit undisturbed for two days.

Ready to cook.

Ready to cook.

Today I emptied the dish into a cooking pot but I wasn’t sure how much of the other ingredients to add. I washed and sliced 3 lemons and added them to the rest of the ingredients. It seemed about the right amount. The recipe talks of 5 lemons for a medium-sized pumpkin. My pie pumpkin was on the small side so I think 3 lemons will work. I took a chunk of ginger root, peeled it and chopped it into small pieces. I stirred everything together and left it to simmer for three hours. Unfortunately I forgot about checking the marmalade during supper and it nearly boiled dry. Part of it was quite caramelized. I removed it from the heat and set side a small portion to taste.

Mrs. Main is either Matilda Jane Bishop wife of William Emerson Main or else she’s Margaret “Maggie” Lowell widow of Henry Main. I made Mrs. Main’s cake recipe on day 241 and discovered then that Maggie might be the most likely contributor since various relatives are also in the cookbook. She also has a dramatic history. By the time her recipe appears in the cookbook she has had five children, the last one five months after her husband’s sudden death in 1888. His death was sudden because he was murdered! He operated a private bank and brokerage and apparently one of his former clients was upset. He arrived with a firearm and shot Henry Main at his place of work. The client then went further down the street to a nearby hotel and shot himself. Maggie continued to live in Galt with her children until at least 1911 but I lose track of her at that point. She died in 1933 when she was 83.

Pumpkin Marmalade ready to taste.

Pumpkin Marmalade ready to taste.

Pumpkin marmalade is okay. I added too much lemon and so it is very tart. I didn’t add enough ginger since I can’t even taste it. The pumpkin texture is a bit odd since it is still in cubes but very soft. However, a family member who loves marmalade thought this was an outstanding marmalade. I think this recipe has potential. As mentioned I’d change the proportions I used and a modern cook might consider adding some of the spices used in marmalade. There was dissenting opinions on this idea. It could be cooked down further and become more like a jam. The next time you have access to a pumpkin consider trying this recipe although the work in preparing the pumpkin is onerous (peeling and cutting take quite a bit of time) it could be worth it if you like marmalade or are willing to experiment.


Mrs. Main

To each pound pumpkin cut in pieces, add three-quarters of a pound of sugar; put in a vessel a layer of pumpkin and sugar till filled, add one pint of water, let it remain two or three days, then boil with lemon cut in thin slices and whole ginger, boil gently three or four hours till the fruit is tender boil the syrup till thick. To a medium-sized pumpkin five lemons, one dozen pieces of ginger.


Leave a comment

Filed under Fruit, Uncategorized

Day 241: White Cake

There are four recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) that are title White Cake. I’m going to try the one contributed by Mrs. Main but since it calls for ten egg whites, I’m going to halve the recipe.

I creamed the 1/2 cup of butter and 1 cup of sugar as usual. Then I added 1/2 cup of milk. I mixed the 2 cups of flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder together and added it to the bowl. Finally I separated 5 eggs and whisked the whites until light. I blended them with the rest of the cake mixture and then added some almond flavouring. I spooned the cake batter in a greased cake pan and baked it at 350 F for 35 minutes. I split the cake and added my lemon filling from last night – with some lemon juice added to it. It was ready to taste.

Mrs. Main is one of two possibilities. The first Mrs. Main could be Matilda Jane Bishop. She married William Emerson Main in St. George Ontario in 1876 but their only child Olive Blanche wasn’t born until 1892 when Matilda is 38. This family moves around but lives for awhile in Preston. Matilda dies in 1925 when she’s 71.

The other possibility is Margaret “Maggie” Lowell was born in Galt to Francis and Mary in 1850. Her father was a hotel keeper whose religion varies from census to census. At one point he’s Catholic and later is listed as a Free Thinker. Maggie marries Henry Main in 1870 and they have five children. Henry operates a livery stable in Galt Ontario and later opens a private bank and brokerage. Clearly the family was doing well financially. Their youngest child is born on July 22, 1888  —-  five months after the death of Henry! It is hard to imagine what it would be like for Maggie. She’s about four months pregnant and has four other young children when her husband dies. But it gets worse. I had difficulty reading his death certificate but noticed it said he died immediately and the person providing information is his brother in law. That seems strange. Thankfully Waterloo Region Generations website had more details. Henry Main was murdered!! He was shot by a client who then killed himself. For more details scroll to the bottom of this entry in Waterloo Region Generations. I also found more details on a website that has digitized newspapers in California. This Galt murder suicide made the news there too. The entry is bit too descriptive for a food related blog.

The information listed in Waterloo Region Generations makes me think that Margaret Lowell Main is the most likely Mrs. Main as this family has connections to several others contributing recipes to this cook book. She goes on to raise the children in Galt. I lose track of her after 1911 when she’s living at 222 East Main Street in Galt with two of her daughters for company although I’m able to track her only son Gladstone Lowell Main through his military service during the First World War. He was a flyer who trained in England and made it through the war. The next time I find Maggie is at her death in 1933 at the age of 83.

This is an okay cake but not  great cake. I thought it would be a light cake since it has a significant number of egg whites and baking powder but it is a bit dense. It also tastes too strongly of egg but that’s my particular bias. The lemon filling complemented it very well. On its own it was bland so I must have been too sparing with the almond flavouring. I’m sure there are some better cakes in this cook book and I’ll keep testing to discover the best ones. In the meantime I just appreciate the strength of Margaret “Maggie” Lowell Main. She must have been quite a woman to go through such a shocking event while pregnant.


Mrs. Main

Two cupfuls of sugars, one cupful of butter, one cupful of milk, four cupfuls of flour, four teaspoonfuls baking powder, whites of ten eggs. Flavor with almond or any desired flavoring. Excellent.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cakes, Uncategorized