Cookbooks, when viewed as more then a collection of recipes (or recipets) are also record keepers and story tellers, they are a product of their time. We can travel back in time and see what was considered popular, prudent or necessary knowledge at the time that that a cook book was written or compiled. Women’s history, before it became a university degree, can be read in the cookbooks that were published at any given time.
As Canadians, we are so wealthy in food that is produced in this country, from coast to coast that we tend to forget how privileged we are in the produce that we grow. Cookbooks written in Canada show an appreciation and understanding of what is grown, produced or harvested in this country, with an understanding of our diverse climate. And that is why we need to buy and collect Canadian cookbooks. Getting started is easy, they’re everywhere, from book stores (actual bricks and mortar stores) to garage sales. I’m suggesting ten at (minimum) that need to be in your cook book collection, right now.
Ten Canadian Cook Books you need in your cook book collection (whether you are Canadian or not)
1. Anything by Elizabeth Baird, but especially, Summer Berries and Apples, Peaches and Pears, her recipes are timeless and her palette is contemporary, LOVE all of her books, so excited to be making the Rhubarb Cream Streusel pie this weekend with the rhubarb from my own patch.
2. The Purity Cook Book and the New Purity Cook Book, The Complete Guide to Canadian Cooking, including “recipes that reflect the trend toward easier preparation, increased interest in foreign specialties and party foods.”
3. The Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book, pub.1966 “…there is a Canadian cuisine, and it is unique in all the world.”
4. The original Five Roses Cook Book of Bread, Pastry Etc. pub. in 1915, “The recipes were supplied by Canadian Housewives and are suitable for use in all parts of the Dominion…Wherever possible, buy “Made in Canada” goods. True patriotism urges all loyal Canadians to encourage the “Made in Canada” movement.” The Made in Canada movement would have been especially important in 1915 due to Canada’s involvement in the First World War.
5. Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale, pub. 1971 She was a pioneer in the field of the rediscovery of Canadian food, I have a second edition, but would love a first.
6. The Canadiana Cook Book by Mme. Jehane Benoit, pub.1970, a delicious country wide representation of Canadian food.
7. Pierre and Janet Berton’s Canadian Food Guide, revised ed. pub.1974. I suspect that poor Janet did most of the work while Pierre, the talking head, received the credit and ate all the food. but this book is full of interesting Canadian food history, with some good recipes at the back of the book.
8. The Old Ontario Cook Book by Muriel Breckenridge, pub.1976. “Over 420 delicious and authentic recipes from Ontario Country Kitchens.”
9. Out of Old Ontario Kitchens by Christina Bates, pub. 1978. Recipes and historical information from “pre-Confederation” kitchens. A book for “both the cook and the historian.”
10. Nothing More Comforting by Dorothy Duncan, pub.2003. “…is just an introduction to our long tradition of food, fellowship, and sharing in Canada.” Which, is what food, and cooking should be.