05 February 2016

Announcing: Rye and Ginger


I don’t know when hobbies and interests became aggrandized to “passion projects,” but here we are. 

I’ve noodled a new food writing project for a while.  One specifically about Canadian food—not what’s found in glossy magazines, not fashionable eating hitched to celebrities, fads and marketing schemes—but actual foods prepared in actual kitchens. It’s pretty easy to become myopic and follow herd mentalities around the normalcy of “local eating,” “clean eating,” and CSAs.  It's also just as easy to assume faddish foods and ingredients such as coconut oil, slow coffee, and bone broth are the centre of the everyone’s kitchen (or worse, any kitchen that doesn’t tout them is somehow a lesser space than a kitchen that does).

Then, my thoughts meandered to my backyard. Here, in Waterloo Region, we are known as both a German and a Mennonite community—but that’s only part of who we are. Half claim German or British backgrounds, but the balance arrives from the rest of the world: the Caribbean, Central America, China, Eastern Europe, India, Portugal, Southeast Asia, West Africa, (etc.).  

Several projects address current food culture or have cooked through historic local cookery books—and they are fabulous. I’m interested in how we got to where we are.  How the land influenced people and food.  The waves of new and different cultures. The evolution of our food and drink industry. To me, understanding a people’s challenges, time and opportunities are essential to understanding that people’s food.

So after more noodling, Rye and Ginger was born.

Why call it Rye and Ginger?  
Rye for Waterloo Region's distilling and brewing history.
Ginger for both local indigenous wild foods and the influx of immigration.

Where to start?
Why not 1916? 

Apart from the Great War, Pancho Villa, Shackleton and Rasputin, 1916 was also a year of suffragettes, prohibition and high-speed rail.  Just as important, 1916 was the year Berlin, Ontario changed its name to Kitchener, and swirling up around it were local intrigues. Shakespearian. But then again, which era isn’t?

Each week I’ll upload a summary of that’ week in 1916’s happenings, bringing in food-related issues whenever I can--topics related to cost of living, the market, prohibition, etc.  Each post will end with a recipe—period, if I can muster it, with a modern equivalent to help readers and home cooks get by those quick ovens and egg-sized lumps of butter. 

Then what?
Afterwards, I hope to expand the project to explore our area’s food history, from native culture to the Queen’s Bush Settlement to the various mills, abattoirs and distilleries that were part of area’s economy.

What about Cardamom Addict?
I will always need a space for my cathartic pensée-à-pixel foodish diarisation.  And I will continue to haphazardly post my thoughts and real-life adventures here on Cardamom Addict.  Some cross-pollination will happen but given the very different natures of these sites, I don’t expect there to be a lot of overlap.

As a start, here are my posts from January 2016:

I'm a quill for hire!

Image credit: Colourised postcard looking west from Queen St (1910) Image Source: Virtual Reference Library

23 January 2016

Blue Monday Pie

160123 Blue Monday Pie

See that pie?  The one with the crimped, hand made crust?  The one with the mellow meringue?

It embodied all that was wrong my Blue Monday Weekend.  The gawds decided to bat me, my friends and my family around as a cat bats around a paper crumply.  It seemed as if with every BBM bing, every corner I turned, every chair I sat in, every call I took, something happened that would test the patience of Job. I think (I hope) that spate is now over, and we've been flung to safety underneath the cosmic chesterfield, far from the reach of outstretched fully-clawed paws.

I won't go into details, but if I were to declare those four days' key phrases, they would be:

  • The majority of bylaw calls are because the complainant is the bad citizen.
  • No good deed goes unpunished.
  • Mid-life crisis.*
  • 2nd-degree burns.**
  • Collusion. Emergency Board Meeting. "Sudden" resignations.
  • Entitled, bubble-wrapped 20-somethings and 30-somethings.
  • Mean girl clique.
  • Bobblehead.

That's when I decided to bake a pie.

I found a century-old custard pie recipe I'd never heard of and thought I'd give it a go.  It would have worked...if I were in a better mood.

After more than two hours in a 400F/200C oven, it was slooshier than a community college girl spending her OSAP loan on a Reading Week in Fort Lauderdale and wobblier than a basophobic-aquaphobic-acrophobic crossing the Kotmale Footbridge.

I don't recall how long that (deleted) pie was in the oven, but I decided to call it a day and plop the meringue on top when the now slightly more sober college girl was on the footbridge.

I tasted that pie.  My friend tasted that pie.

My Dear Little Cardamummy has always said she could taste my mood in my cooking.

It wasn't the worst pie in the world.  But it certainly wasn't a good pie.  I'm not sure it was an okay pie.  I'm not even sure it was fully cooked.

The rest of my week went much better (still, there were some residual annoyances, but I think things are sort of on an even keel).  I remade the pie.  It was good.

The recipe will be posted later, but until then, I think I'll have a slice of pie.

*Not mine--according to the usual age my family (on both sides) kick the bucket, I'm not due for another four years.

**Again, not me.

I'm a quill for hire!

06 December 2015

26 years...

...and not forgotten

Geneviève Bergeron (1968–1989), civil engineering student
Hélène Colgan (1966–1989), mechanical engineering student
Nathalie Croteau (1966–1989), mechanical engineering student
Barbara Daigneault (1967–1989), mechanical engineering student
Anne-Marie Edward (1968–1989), chemical engineering student
Maud Haviernick (1960–1989), materials engineering student
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (1958–1989), nursing student
Maryse Laganière (1964–1989), budget clerk
Maryse Leclair (1966–1989), materials engineering student
Anne-Marie Lemay (1967–1989), mechanical engineering student
Sonia Pelletier (1961–1989), mechanical engineering student
Michèle Richard (1968–1989), materials engineering student
Annie St-Arneault (1966–1989), mechanical engineering student
Annie Turcotte (1969–1989), materials engineering student

I'm a quill for hire!