Tag Archives: baking

Pass the Ambrosia! Memories of Cookbooks Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Pass the Ambrosia! Memories of  Cookbooks Linda Knight Seccaspina
Photo is a typical Robin Hood Float that was in every local parade– this one was in Delta 1937)

Pass the Ambrosia! Memories of Cookbooks Linda Knight Seccaspina

Years ago before I went to California I had 100’s of cookbooks. My favourites were the church cookbooks from the local rummage sales and I have given away a lot–but today I still have about a 100 left. 

Remember the well worn coil- bound cookbooks put out by Canadian companies? I still have well-used copies of Robin Hood, Maple Leaf  and Red Rose which are probably museum items now. These little books are full of things our grandmothers used to make, such as dinner rolls, pickles, jams, jellies, and the beloved tomato aspic. 

By today’s standards some of the ingredients are not for healthy eating: canned soup, shortening, MSG and lots and lots of mayonnaise. But these books were especially big on baking and contained classic recipes for breads, cookies, squares, cakes, and especially pies. This is perhaps where their timelessness shines through for everyone.

The recipes from my vintage cookbooks are from times I still remember, and in the 50’s my mother used to make Tuna Pinwheels and Canned Devilled Ham Canapes for her canasta parties. Bernice Ethylene Crittenden Knight was a stickler for an attractive food presentation, and she also made something called Congealed Salad for holiday meals. A combination of Orange Jello, Cool Whip, crushed pineapple, and wait for it, shredded cheese. I think my Dad called it “Sawdust Salad” and I seriously tried to remain clueless as to why. 

I’m sure everyone has a family member that says they’ll bring a “salad” to a family dinner, but then they bring some Jello concoction they found in one of their cookbooks. Bonus points if it has marshmallows in it like the amazing Ambrosia Salad.  Actually, I feel more justified in calling anything a salad if I dump leftover taco beef and salsa onto a little lettuce topped with shredded cheese.

There are many loving memories of my grandmother baking on Saturdays. The old beige crock which held the flour under the cupboards — a hint of yeast — and the mixture of sweat pouring from her forehead. This mixture was placed in loaf pans, and if the day was bright the bread was set out in the sun to rise, otherwise the pans were placed near the big black wood stove which made the room toasty and cozy.

After the dough had risen to twice its size it was quickly placed in the oven. Making bread was only the beginning of the baking day– cakes, pies and cookies followed. There might be homemade applesauce for supper, toast for breakfast, bread pudding and the other delicious dishes which came from my grandmother’s magical kingdom. It was always homemade with love. That meant that I had sneaked the spoon out of the mixture and licked it and no one was the wiser when it was used again.  

The steamed brown bread baked in a can was certainly one of Grammy’s few baking tragedies. It was so horrible my Dad took my Grandmother’s failed recipe target shooting at the Cowansville dump. I would like to think that some of those rats got to feast on one of those brown breads. Of course, maybe after sampling it, they might have wanted to be put out of their misery.

The best is all those hundreds of recipes lovingly collected, saved from the newspapers or magazines, with notes written on the side. Finally assembled into cookbooks, the secrets were still not there. I remember writing down some of my Grandmother’s recipes and next time we made it she had changed the amount of pinches and methods on her recipes.

Despite living in a healthy society, or trying to, cookbooks seem to remain every bit as popular as romance novels and mysteries. Nostalgia triggers a story about our lives, helping us reflect on traditions and moments about the days when our  parents and grandparents were alive. That’s why we should never lose print recipes, and real paper-based cookbooks. 

Those mystery meat recipes, and foods that were the same colour as rainbow radiation will always resonate with us. That’s because we get to see and relive the gravy stained favourites, and the memories of family. If reading about cookbooks has you craving a big slice of cake, you’re not alone. I was always told if you can read you can cook. I can attest that my cooking is so fabulous that even the smoke alarm cheers me along from time to time.

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Hazleton, Pennsylvania
18 Jul 1963, Thu  •  Page 22

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What was a Fowl Supper?

Was the Butter Tart Really Invented in Barrie, Ontario? Jaan Kolk Files

Hobos, Apple Pie, and the Depression–Tales from 569 South Street

Bake the World a Better Place!

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Bake the World a Better Place!

 

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 (H.Moulton Collection, Smiths Falls)

Food was just as expensive for the early settlers as it is now. Baking was often delivered personally to homes by bakers or pastry cooks. Families could prepare their own bread and cakes in their own ovens, or have it baked professionally in a bake house.  Cakes were cooked in closed, cast iron ranges by the 1850s. Originally ranges were all coal-based, but then gas versions became available, but were considered very dangerous. The family coal budget was one of the issues that led to making these choices of what to buy from the baker, or make yourself.

In 1835 B. F. Heath of Smiths Falls was listed as opening a bakery at the end of the bridge opposite Ward’s Mills at the corner of Beckwith and Water Street (Chambers Street). It was said that Mr. Heath made bread, biscuits, crackers and other confectioneries that any sweet tooth might demand. It wasn’t cheap-getting supplies, it was difficult, and various grades of flour, classes of butter, and different kinds of sugar, and eggs needed to be fresh and fruit needed to be of the best quality. So bakeries came and went because of the intensive labour, costs and lack of supplies.
To the south of the grist mill in Smiths Falls was once Durant’s Pool Room. The one-storey
frame building which was owned by Mahlon Durant was built in 1909, and an addition  was put on later on the back end of the structure. Durant worked for the CPR until he lost an arm in a railroad accident in 1910 and had to retire. Mahlon became a tobacco merchant along with a confectionery store until his death in January of 1932. The building remained there until 1925 when the Old Home Week Committee wanted the land for a park site.

South of Durant’s Pool Room was a bakery. The original construction date is unknown, but Alexander Wood had planned such a building before his death in 1895 and the building must post-date that event. It was a one and one half storey frame building with a small addition on the south end.

The bakery was connected with the grist mill, and for a time it was operated by Mrs. Wood. It was possible the building was removed at the same time as Durant’s Pool Room. Beside the bakery was a double house and across the road from the bakery was a blacksmith shop. No one knows when Mrs. Wood closed down, but she too likely closed for the same reasons as her predecessors.

The bakers and confectionery makers came and went like the wind through the 1800s, but soon Davidson’s Bakery opened in 1890,  and brought the use of baking machinery to the area which made baked goods at an economical cost. Once upon a time Davidson’s was the largest commercial bakery in eastern Ontario, and it was a place Smiths Falls local residents could have a lifetime career. They served the area until 1994 when beloved delivery driver Mr. Johnson delivered his last load of bread.

An empty bakeshop on King Street was used by by Kezia Lewis and Margaret McMullen in 1910 who then persuaded the local Methodist church to organize a Sunday School for the young children of the area who were destitute. In 1914 the former bakeshop was vacated and Wesley Hall was built to accommodate the children on the the corner of King and Empress Street. The teachers from Elgin were recorded in the media that because of the Sunday School run by the women some poorer children had a better chance at life.

 

 - BAKER'S HELPER, AT LEAST 3 years' experience,...

July 15, 1966

In the 50s and 60s Flann’s Bakery was once a high point in Smiths Falls. Mrs. Flann was oriignally Evelyn Edith Patterson of the Patterson Funeral Home family in Carleton Place, and some locals still remember her today. Darlene Findlay from  Darlene’s Café and Bakery on Main Street W. had high hopes in 2009, but once the Smiths Falls Hershey Candy factory closed Findlay was selling fewer of her famous lemon meringue pies and closed.

But tradition continues, and now Smiths Falls has a couple of locally owned bakeries: C’est Tout and Noal Pantry are keeping the area sugar coated and making sure that the local population can have their cake and eat it too.

 

 - IN SMITHS FALLS FORMERLY Flann'l Bofceryi comer...

July 16, 1969

 

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

 

relatedreading

 

 

Wondrous! The Woodcock Bakery

Roy Woodcock Photo -Woodcock’s Bakery

Before there was Baker Bob’s There was The Almonte Bakery

Cake By the Mississippi — The Bowland Bakery

Lorne Hart– The Old Towne Bakery — A Recipe is Just a Recipe

Bill Jenkins- Riverman and Wedding Cake Maker?

Remembering the Smells of Heaven on Earth —Davidson’s Bakery

 

Deprived Brits Have No Date Squares! One Woman’s Quest to Challenge Carleton Place Ladies

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I have a bestie in the UK that is following our Carleton Place Blog. Victoria is going to add some neat tidbits here and there comparing her country and ours. Last week she contributed her Easter Flower pictures

Here is how she describes where she lives.

Well, I live in Ely (pronounced to rhyme with “wheelie”) but there is also an Ely in Wales, so I always write it as “Ely, Cambridgeshire”, or I suppose you could call it “Ely, England” just to avoid any confusion. It’s a beautiful city just north of Cambridge (one hour from London) with its cathedral dating back to the 11th century being its highlight.This is going to be great fun!

Well, there are no Nanaimo Bars or Date Squares in England. She became intrigued so she made her own after I posted the recipes.

Linda, as promised, here are the results of my first attempt at Canadian baking! I present to you “Date Squares” and “Nanaimo Bars”. I’ve just had a look at some photos to see how closely they resemble the real deal and I don’t think they’re too bad for my first attempt, but as a real life Canadian, I’ll let you be the judge…Be kind lol x

Victoria Norris's photo.
Victoria Norris's photo.
After she posted the pictures the Facebook comments began from her fellow Brits. It seems there are NO Graham Crackers there either so she had to substitute.
Victoria Norris— I had to substitute a couple of things. Digestive biscuits are the closest we have to Graham Crackers here, but I had some wholemeal Jacobs crackers for cheese left over in the tin from Christmas so I just used those lol. I also used coconut palm sugar instead of refined sugar and it worked fine – plenty sweet enough.
Her friend who also resided in England said:
Jo– I remember having Date Slice at school with custard. Wonder if it’s the same. What are the Nanaimo bars?
Victoria– They’re both Canadian recipes – the Date Squares are sometimes called “Matrimonial Bars” and yes, they are not too dissimilar to what we had a school I don’t think, but the Nanaimo Bars are really unique – I can’t actually think of anything else that we have here that tastes like them.
I think she did a fantastic job.. Let’s make her an honoury Canadian!
Rage-well-done

Lorne Hart– The Old Towne Bakery — A Recipe is Just a Recipe

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Lorne Hart– The Old Towne Bakery — A Recipe is Just a Recipe

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When I met Lorne Hart I never put two and two together. I honestly never realized that he was THE Lorne Hart, who founded Hart’s Brewery Company in 1991. I always knew years ago that Lorne was way ahead of the current trends of craft beer. Long before some of these hipsters were opening their craft beer drinking palaces Lorne was negotiating a contract to brew and market the “brewtiful” Dragon’s Breath Pale Ale Company for a small brew pub in Kingston, Ontario.

The Montreal native made Carleton Place the town to be when he opened up Hart’s Brewery. He initially looked at Almonte, but Mayor Melba Barker welcomed Hart’s Brewery with open arms.Things have changed now. Years ago the LCBO levies etc. were staggering, and they financially crippled small breweries. But now, taxes and levies are lower, and the LCBO is encouraging small brewers. To those that think he is out of the game, you would be mistaken. After all, life is too short for boring beer brands. Lorne is heavily involved with the Ashton Brewing Company that operates out of the Old Mill at Ashton near Carleton Place.

I sat there and scratched my head– Lorne bakes too? I guess the British had it right when they maintained that every soldier was entitled to at least a pail of ale and a loaf of bread per day. No matter what the recipe,  not just any baker can do wonders in the kitchen with some good ingredients and an upbeat attitude. The former naval petty officer has worn many hats. Managing director for the National Press Club, commercial real estate, Hart’s Brewery, and owner of The Old Towne Bakery in Carleton Place for the past 10 years.

I was curious to know what leads a man to become a baker. During his stint in real estate he saw that the bakery on Lake Ave West was for sale. He interned for a few months and realized like the beer business, it was all about the yeast. With my history in bread baking I beg to differ, but Lorne jumped in hook, line, and bakery pan, and never looked back. But as he says, “Remember the other persons job may appear easy, until you try it”.

Like every other business, stabilizing and making a profit is the number one goal. He is officially retired, but he views the bakery as a challenge. When the country’s tides in business grew grey, he jumped in and became the head baker once again. Lorne is not afraid to face a challenge. That is evident.

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If you are looking for gluten free The Old Towne Bakery is not the place to go. Unlike a lot of restaurants I have seen, Lorne understands that a true gluten-free product needs a special working area and pans. He knows all about cross contamination. So, he guarantees the health of celiacs and leaves that to others.

In 2014 he restructured, redecorated, and introduced a pudding cake, chelsea buns, and raspberry pound cake among other things. I know as well as everyone else there is no bread like the Old Towne Bakery in Carleton Place. Want a little bit of heaven? Their raspberry filled cookies are so good they are always in hot demand. Did you know the Olde Towne Bakery also sells frozen pizza dough? It makes a delicious homemade pizza that anyone can make!

The High School kids come in every day at lunch and visit their adopted Mum Kathy. They buy fresh made sandwiches, and big cookies. Kathy says they are all good kids. But, be polite in your actions and manners, as she jokes she knows all your Mothers. Running late? Don’t forget to pick some up some homemade soup. Remember the way to a man’s heart is with bribery!

Lorne really is The Happy Baker and posts daily good thoughts on The Old Town Bakery Facebook page. He recently posted that after a hectic Easter Weekend, last Thursday and Saturday, the town cleaned them out. Now they are all busy little beavers baking to restock their shelves.

The man with the smile always speaks well of people and hates gossip. When I asked how he would change the downtown area he told me a story. The town hired a consultant in the 1990’s under Brian Costello’s watch on how to improve the Main Street. The consultants first words on the report was that, (and I will put it nicely) it wasn’t the most attractive Main Street in the area. As Lorne says the street needs cohesiveness.

Lorne and his bakery love the community and the town loves them. To those wanting to go in the bakery business he has these thoughts,

I got up early this morning ( 3:30 AM) a baker’s life is an early to bed early to rise sort of thing. Remember this, early to bed early to rise, makes you tired.

Funny, I never saw a tired bone in his body!


The Old Towne Bakery


73 Lake Ave. West

Carleton Place, Ontario

(613) 253-0666