Tag Archives: Waterloo

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 Ancestry.ca. 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.



Filed under Meat, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Day 286: French Cream Cake

You are probably expecting to read about a traditional Thanksgiving feast from the 1898 New Galt Cook Book and that’s what I expected to prepare. However, my family already enjoyed turkey and all the fixings on Saturday and so they aren’t really interested in eating it again. I finally settled on a lighter sounding cake recipe contributed by Mrs. Howie of Waterloo. Her recipe for French Cream Cake sounds a bit like the Boston Cream Pie my father enjoyed as a teen.

I decided to make the cream part first so that it could cool and to be sure I was successful since this  is a troublesome sort of recipe for me. I get impatient and end up burning the creamy custard or neglect it so much that it curdles. I put slightly less than 1/2 pint (1 cup) of regular milk in a saucepan and turned the heat to medium. While it started to warm I mixed 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch together. I beat 1 egg and then added it to the dry ingredients. Once the milk was hot I added this mixture and kept stirring. I added about a tablespoon of butter. I decided to add vanilla as the flavour.

Next I prepared the cake while the cream cooled. This appears to be a sponge cake recipe since there isn’t any butter in it. I mixed the 3 eggs and 1 cup of sugar well and also prepared the dry ingredients separately. I put 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder in a bowl and then added them to the sugar and egg mixture. I alternated flour and 2 tablespoons of cold water. Once It was all mixed together I poured it into a cake pan and baked at 375 for 30 minutes. I removed the cake from the oven when it was firm and golden. I let it cool just a little and then took the cake out of the pan. I cut it across horizontally and piled on the cream. I decided it looked a little bland so I made a plain vanilla butter cream icing and spread it on top of the cake. It was time to slice the cake and taste.

I don’t really have anything new to share about Mrs. Howie of Waterloo. I’ve talked about her several times including when I made her Velvet Sponge Cake on October 1 (day 274).  She’s Mary Ann Gardham and married Scottish born Alexander Howie. His career as an excise officer meant they moved around. They lived in Kingston and Hamilton and finally Waterloo.

Clearly she likes recipes with interesting titles. Not just Sponge Cake like everyone elses but Velvet Sponge Cake. Not just Cream Cake like the other two recipes but French Cream Cake. I have no idea what makes this one French and not the others. This French Cream Cake is good. I think I might have over baked the cake by a few minutes. The edges were a little hard. The cake was quite solid so again I’m wondering if it sank a bit after I opened the oven door to checked it. That’s a hazard with homemade cakes. The cream was quite good although the vanilla flavour made it an unappealing beige colour. Everyone ate their slices of cake and some had another piece so it is certainly edible. I’ll certainly keep the cream part of the recipe handy and I might consider making the cake again.

Mrs. Howie, Waterloo

CAKE.– Three eggs, one cupful white sugar, one and a half cupfuls flour, one and a half teaspoonfuls baking powder in the flour, two tablespoonfuls cold water. Bake in a quick oven.Split the cake while warm and spread with cream.
FOR THE CREAM. — Boil nearly one-half pint of sweet milk, beat one egg with a scant half cupful of sugar and one tablespoonful of corn starch; when the milk is nearly boiled, stir in the remainder, add a small piece of butter, flavor to taste.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cakes, Uncategorized

Day 274: Velvet Sponge Cake

I’m speaking in Waterloo tomorrow so I thought I’d make Velvet Sponge Cake since the recipe’s contributor Mrs. Howie is from Waterloo. It will be interesting to figure out why her recipe appears in The New Galt Cook Book (1898).

This is one of the recipes in this cook book that doesn’t list the ingredients in the order in which they are used. The first step is to put the 2 cups of white sugar in a bowl and then add 4 eggs. Once this is well mixed I added 2 cups of flour. Again I mixed well and then realized I should have blended the baking powder with the flour. I went ahead and added the 2 teaspoons of baking powder and also some lemon flavour. Once it was mixed I stirred in the 2/3 cup of boiling water.I poured the batter in a greased cake pan and put it in the preheated oven at 350 F. for 40 minutes.

Mary Ann Gardham was born about 1838 in Kingston Ontario. She married Alexander Howie who’d been born in Scotland. His family came to Canada when he was about 11. I don’t know when they married but their first child was born in 1863. They moved around a bit from Hamilton to Kingston and then to Waterloo. Alexander was an excise officer which explains their moves. Three of their five children were still at home when they were recorded in the Waterloo 1891 census. Mary Ann died in 1923 at the age of 86.

I might not know a lot about the life of Mrs. Howie but her velvet sponge cake is quite good. I have mixed feelings about sponge cakes. There’s something about the bouncy texture that seems strange for a cake and since they rely on eggs I sometimes find the flavour of egg overpowering. However, they don’t contain any dairy, an ingredient I should avoid. They don’t keep a long time but they are so light and airy that they make a nice simple dessert. Although this cake has the typical spongy texture the lemon flavour hides the egg. It is incredibly quick and easy to make. I’m going to keep this 19th century recipe on hand in the 21st century.

Mrs. Howie, Waterloo

Two cupfuls white sugar, two cupfuls flour, two-thirds cupful boiling water, four eggs, two teaspoonfuls baking powder, flavor to taste. Beat eggs and sugar together, then add flour, and lastly the hot water just as it is ready for the oven; this is excellent.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cakes, Uncategorized

Day 273: Ammonia Cakes

Tonight I spoke at the celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the Oxford County Genealogical Society in Woodstock Ontario. I met all sorts of people with an interest in food and history. One had Middlemiss ancestors from Galt. I made Mrs. R. Middlemiss’ Amber Pudding recipe from The Galt Cook Book (1898) on Day 169. Another has a recipe for ammonia cookies from her Berlin (Kitchener) grandmother who was a Schmidt before marriage. Our conversation reminded me that I meant to make the Ammonia Cakes recipe on a humid day since they stay crisp even in moist weather. Well today included some rain so I’m going to make it tonight. The recipe was contributed by Miss Roos of Waterloo.

This is a tube of hartshorn also called ammonia

This is a tube of hartshorn also called ammonia

Yes this recipe includes a form of ammonia – that smelly household cleaner – but in this case it is used as a leavening (an ingredient used to lighten baked goods). Do not use the liquid ammonia. The type needed for this recipe can be called bakers or baking ammonia, ammonium carbonate, or hartshorn (hirschsaltz). You might have to search a bit but it is made by many different companies so you’ll find it in tubes as pictured, as well as envelopes, and little tubs.

I started the recipe by cutting it in half. I weighed the white granulated sugar and put 1/4 pound (4 ounces) in a bowl. Next I added a bit of butter (1/4 the size of an egg) and mixed. I added one egg (I know it was supposed to be half but …. I didn’t notice it was just one egg until after I’d added it…. and how do you cut a raw egg in half?) I put the 1/4 ounce of ammonia in the 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) of cream. I poured this into the bowl and stirred again. It was time to start adding the flour cup by cup. In the end it took 2 cups to get a dough that could be rolled thin. Do not taste the dough! It tastes horrible until baked. I shaped the cookies and put them on a cookie sheet. It is a good idea to grease the pan. I baked them at 375 F. for 8 minutes. The time is going to depend on the size and thickness of the cookies. Mine were a little bit thick. If you open the oven door and smell ammonia they need to bake a little longer. I tried to let them cool a bit before I started eating the Ammonia Cakes.

Miss Roos of Waterloo is a mystery since there are many unmarried women in the town of Waterloo with the Roos surname in the 1891 census. I’m wondering if it could be one of Rachel Andrich’s sisters since her maiden name was Roos and she contributed recipes to The New Galt Cook Book. However she was from Preston. Is it 29-year-old Emma Roos or her 23-year-old sister Otilla. They are the daughters of a widow named Catherine. Or is it 18-year-old Elizabeth or her sister Georgena. Their parents are Jacob and Elizabeth.

It is important to bake ammonia cakes long enough for the ammonia to burn off. You will smell ammonia as they bake and that can be very off-putting but it is worth it. You’ll know to leave them a little longer if you smell ammonia when you open the oven door. If you just smell cookies when you open the door and they are a little golden at the edges it is time to take them out. The ammonia helps keep the cookies crisp and airy. This recipe differs from others I’ve tried. They often have lemon added but this version is plain. I still liked it. They could be iced or a modern cook might want to add some lemon. Check out my experience making Lemon Biscuits from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book back in 2012. They have ammonia in them too.

Miss Roos, Waterloo

Half pound white sugar, half a pint sweet cream, one egg, half ounce ammonia, a small piece of butter (half the size of an egg). Flour enough to roll out.


Filed under Cookies, Uncategorized

Day 251: Trifle

I had planned to make another sort of thing tonight but I had supper out tonight and just didn’t feel like making something really fiddly. Instead nearby was this recipe for Trifle from Mrs. Howie from Waterloo. There’s an entire chapter devoted to Trifle in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) and I happen to like trifle but never make it. Instead it is a dessert I associate with trips to Great Britain and with a wonderful former colleague named George who was from Northern Ireland. His wife would make trifle whenever we had a potluck.

I started with the cake. I had one of those packets of six sponge cakes that are often found in the fresh fruit section of the grocery store. Households in 1898 could also buy cake from bakeries. They didn’t always have to make their own baked goods. A special booklet produced in 1898 talks about the Smith & Hunter Bakers & Confectioners on North Water street in Galt (Cambridge) and check out this site to find out about one bakery in Berlin (Kitchener).

I made just one-quarter of this recipe so I put 1 1/2 cakes in a dish and spread some raspberry jam on them. I had an old bottle of white wine in the fridge —  not vintage wine — just wine left from a party that had been in the fridge a long time. I decided to pour some of it on the cake and then left it to soak in. I was worried about using too much wine since I don’t like really soggy cake in a trifle but I might have been a little too sparing. Next I made some custard. I used Bird’s Custard powder to make my custard since this product existed in 1898 and doesn’t have eggs in it. I put some custard on the cake and then started making the whipped cream. I put 1/4 quart (1 cup) of whipped cream in a bowl and added 1 1/2 ounces of sugar. I wasn’t sure what was meant by “piece of lemon” but decided it was shavings or zest of lemon. I zested 1/4 of a lemon over the bowl of cream. I whisked it all until it was light and thick and then added some to the trifle. It was time to enjoy some trifle.

I’ve written about Mrs. Howie of Waterloo on a number of occasions. She’s Mary Ann Gardham. Her husband Alexander Howie was an excise officer and so they moved around quite a bit , at least until they reached Waterloo. They made Waterloo their home until they died.

I’m very happy with my trifle. It was delicious. I wish I’d used a bit more wine to soak the cake since it was just  little dry. This is a hard thing to get right since it depends on the freshness of the cake. Stale cake works but needs more liquid. The flavour of the wine worked well with the other ingredients. The lemon flavoured whipped cream was wonderful. I highly recommend it.


Mrs. Howie, Waterloo

One quart good cream, six ounces sifted white sugar, piece of one lemon, whisk all together. Place in a trifle dish six small sponge cakes, some candied lemon peel, cut small; spread the cakes with jelly or raspberry jam; pour a little light wine on the cake. When this has stood for a short time pour in about a pint of thick custard; then spread over the whipped cream.

Leave a comment

Filed under Trifles, Uncategorized

Day 243: Chili Sauce

I’m going to try making another version of Chili Sauce. This recipe was contributed by Mrs. Howie of Waterloo in The New Galt Cook Book (1898). Since I’ll soon be over run with Chili Sauce if I make the full recipe for the many sauces, chutneys and pickles in this cook book, I’m going to cut Mrs. Howie’s recipe in half.

Varieties of red pepper seeds available in 1898 in the Peter Henderson catalogue.

Varieties of red pepper seeds available in 1898 in the Peter Henderson catalogue.

I chopped 3 nice ripe tomatoes, 3 cooking onions and 1 sweet red pepper. I wondered what sort of red pepper Mrs. Howie used but I decided to try it with a regular sweet red pepper. We’ll see how it turns out. Since this only cooks for an hour I cut the vegetables (fruit) into very small pieces. I put them into a saucepan and added 1/2 tablespoon salt and 1/2 tablespoon sugar. I covered the pot and left it to boil for an hour. I checked it every so often to give it a stir. After the hour was up I added 1/2 cup of white vinegar and let it boil for 15 minutes. I removed a portion to cool so I could taste it. The rest will get canned.

Mrs. Howie of Waterloo is Mary Ann Gardham. She was born to John and Mary in Kingston in 1838. The marriage of Alexander Howie and Mary Ann Gardham took place sometime between 1861 and 1871. They had several children and spent many years living in Waterloo. Mary Ann died in 1923.

I think Mrs. Howie’s Chili Sauce is great. This is not a sweet chili sauce. Instead it is slightly tangy with vinegar but I liked it. It is reasonably quick to make although you need to do a bit of chopping. I suppose a modern cook could find a way to make the prep work of chopping the vegetables a little easier but I don’t mind it. I think the sweet red pepper was the right choice at least for my taste. Maybe you could use a hotter pepper if you like that sort of thing. Do keep an eye as it cooks. It looks like a lot of liquid at first but I nearly burned it as it cooked away even with the lid on. This version of chili sauce contains a large proportion of onions so if you’re not fond of them skip this recipe. I loved the amount of onions since I prefer them to tomatoes or peppers.  This recipe is a keeper for me.

Mrs. Howie, Waterloo

Six ripe tomatoes, six onions, two red peppers, one tablespoonful salt, one tablespoonful sugar. Boil one hour, then add one cupful of vinegar and boil fifteen minutes longer.


Filed under Sauces, Uncategorized

Day 200: Chocolate Marble Cake

Wow, I’ve been doing this every day for 200 days! I’ve prepared over 200 recipes from The New Galt Cook Book (1898). I think it is time for a bit of a celebration so I’m going to make Chocolate Marble Cake – I love chocolate. This recipe was contributed by Mrs. J. H. Webb of Waterloo.

Ad for Baker's Chocolate in Canadian Grocer magazine 1897

Ad for Baker’s Chocolate in Canadian Grocer magazine 1897

I made a mistake while preparing this cake and ended up having to double the recipe. So, I creamed 3 cups of sugar and 1 cup of butter. Once it was nice and fluffy I added 2 eggs and then 1 cup of milk. I added a good “slug” of vanilla (at least 2 teaspoons). Finally I mixed the dry ingredients (5 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar and 1 teaspoon of baking soda) and then added them to the other ingredients. Meanwhile I used a small bowl placed over a saucepan of boiling water to melt 2 squares of Bakers Chocolate to add later. Once the batter was mixed I divided it in half and added the melted chocolate to one portion. I greased a large cake pan and put spoonfuls of the two batters in it. Although the recipe doesn’t say it, I assumed I was supposed to make swirly motions with a knife in the batter to create the marble effect in the cake. Once that was finished I put the pan in the oven  at 350 F for 45 minutes. I removed the cake and couldn’t wait to cut a slice. It smells wonderful!

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 daughter of John and Isabella. She was born in Branchton Ontario in 1851 and according to Waterloo Region Generations was their only child. Helen married Joseph Hughes Webb in 1872 when she was 20. Joseph was a medical doctor. moved to the town of Waterloo and had two daughters named Clara Belle. The first baby girl only lived for six or seven hours after birth and the doctor wasn’t able to determine why she died. A year later in 1875 they had another baby girl and gave her the same name. This Clara Belle married the same year The New Galt Cook Book was published. Each census shows the Webb household has a domestic servant. In 1917 Mrs. J. H. Webb was the Hon. Vice Regal in the founding of the St. Quentin Chapter of the I.O.D.E. It was founded to answer the call for hospital supplies for overseas use during the First World War.  Sewing meetings were held every Tuesday evening for the duration of the war. Helen died in 1937 when she was 85 years old.

This is a very good cake. I wonder if Helen ever made it for the women to enjoy at the IODE sewing circe. Both of the cake batters are delicious but the combination is very good. For once the chocolate portion actually tastes of chocolate. The marbling effect makes it even more interesting. I’ll make this one again.

Mrs. J. H. Webb, Waterloo

One and a half cupfuls sugar, half cupful butter, half cupful milk, two and a half cupfuls flour, one egg, one teaspoonful cream tartar, half teaspoonful soda, flavor with vanilla. When well mixed take half of it in another dish and stir into it one square of melted chocolate, have your tins ready and put in a spoonful of light and dark alternately.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cakes, Uncategorized