We took a little road trip, mainly in Nova Scotia, last week.
Between visits with family and old friends, we made time to stop and explore things that looked interesting along the way — the Anne Murray Centre and Miners Museum in Springhill, a pottery shop in Chester and the yacht club that replaced the old fish plant in Hubbards. That was how we came to stop at an antique store in Colchester County.
The proprietor had a good selection of bean pots, and I couldn’t resist buying a nice brown stoneware crock with no cracks or chips. As I stood at the till, waiting to pay for the bean crock, a book caught my eye: a long out-of-print copy of the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook.
I’ve had my eye on this book, prepared by the Canadian Home Economics Association in anticipation of Canada’s centennial celebrations, since I first saw a copy in 1967.
The book contains recipes collected across Canada, and considered to be representative of Canadian cuisine as it had evolved during the 100 years since Confederation. Recipes reflect the ethnic origins of people who populated the country in the mid 1960s, the crops that would grow here and the traditions and lifestyles of Canadians. They include Bannock, South Essex Chili Sauce, Dutch Speculaas, Annapolis Apple Pudding, Malpeque Oyster Stew and Roast Wild Goose.
After we arrived home, got unpacked and had a load of laundry on the go, one of the first things I did was to look up a recipe for baked beans in my new old cookbook. There were two to choose from, one with a sauce flavoured by molasses and maple syrup and the other with a tomato-based sauce. I chose the first one.
The introduction to the recipe refers to explorers, fur trappers and the Klondike Gold Rush. Had the recipe been sourced in Prince Edward Island, I have no doubt that the navy beans would have been replaced by yellow eye beans. Since there were pinto beans in my cupboard, I used them, with good results.
I have added metric measurements to the recipe, and since we found it far too salty for our 21st century taste buds, I’m suggesting a major reduction in the amount of salt.
Adapted from Canadian Home Economics Association: The Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book, McClelland and Stewart Limited, Toronto, 1966.
500 mL (2 cups) navy or pea beans
Soak overnight in
3 L (12 cups) water
Preheat oven to 120 C (250 F).
Drain, and cover with fresh water.
Bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until skins split when blown upon.
Drain and place beans in bean crock or large casserole.
Bury in centre of beans
1 small peeled onion
Mix together and pour over beans
75 mL (1/3 cup) lightly packed brown sugar
15 mL (1 tbsp) salt *(I would start with 2 mL/ 1/2 tsp next time, and add more to
7 mL (1 1/2 tsp) dry mustard
2 mL (1/2 tsp) black pepper
50 mL (1/4 cup) molasses
50 mL (1/4 cup) maple syrup
Insert near surface
100 g (1/4 lb) fat salt pork, sliced
Add sufficient boiling water to cover beans. Bake, covered, in 120 C (250 F) oven for 8 hours, adding a small amount of boiling water from time to time so that beans do not become dry. Uncover during last 30 minutes of baking.
Serve hot with Oatmeal Brown Bread. Makes 6 servings.
Here is the recipe for Oatmeal Brown Bread, the suggested accompaniment for Saturday night baked beans. I realize that for many Maritimers, the tradition is to serve steamed brown bread with baked beans, but this one is baked.
Oatmeal Brown Bread
Adapted from Canadian Home Economics Association: The Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book”. McClelland and Stewart Limited, Toronto, 1966.
Combine in a large bowl
250 mL (1 cup) rolled oats
10 mL (2 tsp) salt
45 mL (3 tbsp) butter or shortening
Pour over top
500 mL (2 cups) boiling water
Stir until fat melts. Cool to lukewarm.
5 mL (1 tsp) sugar in 125 mL (1/2 cup) lukewarm water (38 C/100 F)
Let stand for 10 minutes. Then stir briskly with a fork. Add softened yeast to lukewarm mixture, together with
125 mL (1/2 cup) molasses
250 mL (1 cup) whole wheat flour and then 500 mL (2 cups) all purpose flour
500 to 750 mL (2 to 3 cups) all purpose flour
Work in last of flour with a rotating motion of the hand. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead 8 to 10 minutes. Shape into a smooth ball and place in a greased bowl, rotating dough to grease surface.
Cover and let rise until doubled (about 1 ½ hours). Punch down and shape into 3 loaves. Place in greased 21 cm x 12 cm (8½ x 4½ inch) loaf pans, grease tops, and let rise again until doubled. Bake in preheated 190 C (375 F) oven for 60 to 65 minutes.
Makes 3 loaves.
Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at email@example.com.