British Grocer & Bakery Inc. – Calgary

Even though I am Canadian, because of my Scottish heritage I have been given the opportunity to try many British treats either through my family or with my trips to the UK.  My Mom, being born in Glasgow, had her favourites too.  She would often request a Fry’s Peppermint Cream Bar as these were her favourite, but me?  Well, I always seem to crave a bottle of Irn Bru and a packet of Prawn Cocktail Walkers Crisps.

I am always on the lookout in Calgary for these treats and due to our large community, there have been many spots throughout the years that sell British import items.

Recently a new shop opened in town, called the British Grocer & Bakery Inc., that can help me with all, and I do mean ALL, of my cravings.  To the point that it is dangerous.  They have everything and it is cheaper than most of the other shops out there.  The thing that is unique is that it has the grocery AND the bakery.

The bakery focuses on savoury and sweet making mostly pies, pasties, cookies and tarts but they do make a variety of other treats based on the season.  Most of the things are available to buy in the fridge or freezer but there is also a takeaway counter if you are there over the lunch hour and want a pasty to go with your bag of crisps.

There is also a small freezer with local meat products, like sausage and black pudding from Irvings Farm.  Even though most of the products in the grocery section are from the UK they do try to support local where they can.

What I really like about this place though is the sense of community.  They really want to provide a service and a product to us all, that is good value.  They even say the more we buy the cheaper the prices go.  They want to pass the savings on to the people who shop in their store.  So my Calgary people, get over there and start buying Curly Wurly’s and Cadbury chocolate so we can all get cheaper snacks!

Seriously though, the shop is a hidden gem.  It is a little off Blackfoot Trail in the Manchester Industrial area but it is not that hard to find.  The way is dotted with signs.  I often find myself going for a visit on Saturday mornings before I go pick up my produce for the week and will pick up some pasties or pies for the evening.  And yes a bottle of Irn Bru and and a packet of Walkers Crisps too.

British Grocer + Bakery
533 Manitou Rd SE, Calgary, Alberta T2G 4C2, Canada
+1 403 245 0809


Hours
Monday – Friday: 9am – 5:30pm
Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: Closed

Vij’s Indian – The Cookbook

When I was recently asked to review a copy of the newest cookbook to come from the Vij’s brand, Vij’s Indian by Meeru Dhalwala and Vikram Vij, I jumped at the chance.  Even though I don’t cook Indian food often, I did experience one of my best meals ever at Vij’s flagship restaurant in Vancouver a few years ago.  It was a magical night that commenced the moment we sat at our table with a cup of chai.  That chai was a welcome, not only to the restaurant, but also invited us into an evening where food and companionship were intertwined.

Before I received my copy of the book in the mail, I was hoping to see some of the recipes for the dishes I enjoyed that evening and to be honest, I thought that this post would revolve around that.  But what I really want to talk about is the book itself.

This isn’t your typical recipe book.  It does have photos of food and ingredient lists located in the sidebars but what really struck me is the format in general.  This is more like a short story book than a cookbook.  And you all know how I like a good story.

The beginning of the book, like most cookbooks, gives you a heads up as to what to expect when cooking from it, like what spices you will need and why you need them.  Or a feature that I particularly like is the wine pairing section.  Members of the Vij’s team each recommend wines that they like to pair with the dishes that are served throughout the restaurants.

Then you get into the heart of the book, the recipes.  Each recipe begins with a story and each story is different, of course, depending on the recipe.  There is an easy way that the book talks about the partnership between Meeru and Vikram, in their restaurants and in their home.  Why they eat things the way that they do, like why you should eat pumpkin seeds versus sunflower seeds depending on your constitution.  Or what kind of things are popular in their restaurants.  If you have been to Vij’s or plan on going there, everyone will tell you to eat the Lamb Popsicles.  The recipe for the famous Lamb Popsicles is in the book, but with a twist.  It has been simplified so that you can make it for yourself at home.

The thing that is most noticeable in the book is the method for the recipes.  Most cookbooks list the directions in a step by step format, using numbers or bullet points.  Vij’s Indian is different.  The instructions for making the recipe are written together in paragraph form.  Because of that you do need to be careful when making the recipe that you don’t miss anything.  But what I like about this format is it makes it personal.  It’s almost like Meeru or Vikram are in your kitchen guiding you as you move along with the recipe.  It’s a conversation, a give and take.  And it’s that kind of thing that facilitates bringing a little bit of the Vij’s world into your home.

I couldn’t decide what I wanted to make initially from the book.  There is a section near the beginning called Condiments and Complements that contain recipes that you would make before you would even start creating anything else in the book, things like Paneer and Garam Masala.  My best advice is to scan the book and if the recipes you want to make include any of these condiments, make those first.

Ultimately I made the Fruit Chaat which had the Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and the Date Chutney included in the ingredient list.  Both of these recipes were in that Condiment section.  What is really great about making these before hand is that you will use them for more than just that recipe.  For example, I made the Spiced Pumpkin Seeds to use in the Fruit Chaat but they are so good on their own as a snack.  I have also been using them for extra texture and flavour in my yogurt, they really make a difference!  An added bonus is that a number of items in the Condiment section would work well as homemade gifts.

Also included in the Condiment section are a few variations of how to make chai.  You do get the recipe that is used in the restaurant but a few others as well.  It is the original chai recipe that I have decided to share with you.  The chai is thing that draws you in and keeps everything together.  It’s the one constant throughout the meal and the story.  It’s the beginning and the end.

But before I share that recipe with you, I wanted to let you know about an event that is happening this upcoming week.  On Monday, March 27 Calgary’s own Cookbook Co. Cooks will be hosting an evening with Vikram Vij.  The event will celebrate the release of Vij’s Indian as well as Vij: A Chef’s One-Way Ticket to Canada with Indian Spices in His Suitcase.  When I last spoke with Cookbook Co. Cooks there were still tickets available.  The cost is $85 per person but keep in mind that not only do you get to attend the event, you also get the chance to meet Vikram Vij and walk home with a copy of each of the books.  If you are interested in registering, call Cookbook Co. Cooks at (403) 265-0600, ext 1 to book your tickets.  And if you want to know more about the event itself, just click through to the website.

Ok, now that I have let you know about that I will end with the chai recipe.

Vij’s Chai

5 1/2 cups water

12 to 15 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed

1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds

5 orange pekoe teabags

6 teaspoons sugar (optional)

3/4 cup whole milk (optional)

Makes 6 cups

Prep and Cooking time: 20 to 30 minutes

Set a small bowl and tea strainer/sieve beside the stove before you begin.  In a kettle or pot, combine the water, cardamom pods and fennel seeds and bring to a vigorous boil on high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to boil for another 2 minutes.  Add the teabags and sugar, stir well and allow to boil for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes more, or longer if you like a stronger flavoured tea.

Using the sieve or a large spoon, remove the teabags and place in the bowl.  Add the milk to the pot and continue to heat through for 45 seconds to 1 minute (you don’t want the milk to boil over).  Turn off the heat.  Place the tea strainer over the mouth of a teapot and pour the chai into it.  Or hold the strainer over individual cups before pouring.  Serve immediately.

Calgary Maplefest des Sucres

Growing up, maple syrup, real maple syrup anyway, was almost a foreign concept. I grew up in Calgary where there are very few maple trees. Syrup was in a plastic bottle on the table Saturday mornings with pancakes. Real maple syrup was a treasured tin brought back from our summer vacations to my Mom’s childhood home in Ontario and only used for special occasions.

Photo courtesy of Timothy Wilson Hoey

In a place where the biggest winter event that got people excited was when the next Chinook blew into town, Quebec’s annual Winter Carnival and Bonhomme were things we saw on the news and learned about in French class. And making real maple syrup in a sugar shack? Well, that just seemed like a country far away. Visions of collecting sap and boiling it were vignettes nestled between The Friendly Giant and Mr. Dress-up when we were allowed to watch the beloved CBC. And as a child, when I saw that, the thing I wanted to try most of all was glistening, sweet maple taffy on clean white snow.

Years have passed on, many years in fact, and still I have never made the time to go out east to take part in this very Canadian experience. I will someday.

In the meantime, last year I discovered something that will help me fill the void. It is the Calgary Maplefest des Sucres. This event is held the first weekend of March by the Association canadienne-francaise de l’Alberta, Calgary chapter (ACFA Calgary). The festival is celebrating its 15th year and it supports the ACFA Calgary goal of promoting and developing the local Francophone community.

Last year Maplefest found a new home at Heritage Park, which I think is the perfect venue. With its wide open outdoor spaces and winterized indoor facilities, it is well suited to host an event that has unexpected early warm spring days, like last year, or chilly winter days, like this year. From the moment you arrive at the park you are transported from Calgary to Quebec with a Bonjour/Hello greeting from the multitude of volunteers. And if you want to practice your French language skills this is a good place to do so, they encourage it.

Activities focussing on promoting French culture, or just having fun, are situated in various places throughout the park and they cater to everyone. If you want to sit and listen to traditional music and watch dancers or theatre, you can do that. If you have kids that like crafts, you can do that. If you are like me and have a child that likes to play like crazy outside, hot or cold, you can do that too. And most of all, if you want to eat maple type things you can definitely do that!

When my son and I go we always start at the main Celebration tent and get our pre-purchased maple themed meal. The meal itself is a bit expensive but I don’t mind shelling out the extra cash when I know it goes towards hosting the festival. And who doesn’t want to eat crepes with maple syrup, maple ham, maple style baked beans, maple pea soup and more? Once we eat that we’re ready to go on our way and walk around the park.

Our ending point of the day finishes at my favourite part of the whole festival, the makeshift Sugar Shack. It’s here where I get to go back to being a kid and experience that sweet maple taffy on white snow. When you put it in your mouth it is filled first with cold bits of ice melting on your tongue and then the delicious maple flavour takes over completely.  It is better than I could have ever imagined when I was a child and it is the main reason why I will keep going back.

If you are in Calgary during the first weekend of March take a chance. It won’t be Quebec’s Carnival but sure is a nice substitute.

A very special thank you goes out to artist Timothy Wilson Hoey who allowed me to use an image of his Maple Syrup painting for this post.  He is currently touring Canada with his art show, O-Canada, which features 150 images celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.  I was able to see the show recently when it was in Canmore and it caught my imagination.  Check out his Facebook page for a great walk down Canadian memory lane.

Did Powdered Milk Candy Save the War?

Last November I shared with you an excerpt from my Grandma’s memory book.  If you want to know more about her book please head on over to that post and then come back.  You can find the link by clicking here. 

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I have been reading through this book a lot recently and I revisited her section on Wartime Food.  In that section there was a sentence that intrigued me, and it demonstrates my Gran’s love for sweets.  This is what she said.

“We used to be quite adept at making candy with powdered milk and I don’t know what all, but they were pretty good.”

Then it got me thinking, I have a pretty good idea of what rationing in Britain was like during World War II because of my family’s history but I don’t really know much about Canada.  So I started to do some research.

I found some interesting articles and I wanted to share with you some of my observations.

These days, eating local is trendy but back then it was a way of life.  Canada supported Britain with exports to bolster not only the troops but the people who lived there. Even though it was not a requirement people were encouraged to eat foods that weren’t necessary staples but items that were plentiful.  This included foods like apples and lobster. Can you imagine eating lobster every day?

When I was searching on the internet I also discovered a cookbook that was published in 1943 called Cook to Win by the ladies at Wesley United Church here in Calgary.  This peaked my interest because my husband’s Grandmother attended Wesley.  I reached out to my Mother-in-law because even though we lost Grandma  a few years ago, she kept almost everything.  It was my hope that I might actually find a copy of the book.  I spent some time with my Mother-in-law and we found a lot of older interesting items but not that book.

pocket-cookbook

Even though we didn’t find a copy of the book, she shared with me that her Mom and Dad were married in 1940 and because her Dad went to Wesley that’s where they attended church.  I took that away with me.   Even though I didn’t find a copy of the book I felt firm in the fact that Grandma at one time would have at least seen it.

I kept looking and through the wonder of the internet,  I was able to find a few pages from the book. I am forever grateful for this site, which is a part of the University of Alberta. It is called Culinaria – A Taste of Food History in the Prairies.  I was not able to find any contact information on the site to ask if I could post images to show you.  So I ask you to take a look there, it’s a fascinating site and as I read through the pages, I gained a lot of insight into what food in Canada, specifically the prairies, looked like during the war.

In the end I chose to focus on not just Cook to Win but the Victory Cookbook from the ladies at Knox United Church in Regina.  I learned that during the war in Canada, particularly from these cookbooks, where the mindset of the nation’s women were.  The kitchen was their battleground and the mission was to make nutritious meals for their family.  They were tasked to do it in the most efficient way possible.  That was one of their contributions to the war effort.  If they could make something with one less tablespoon of salt, that was a tablespoon of salt that could go to the boys on the front to help fight the war.

Another thing to think about these books, they were advertisements for war bonds. Church cookbooks these days are sold to raise money for a program or a cause supported by the church but back then they were raising money for the war. It looks like on the bottom of every page of Cook to Win there is a slogan of some sort encouraging this purchase. For example, “Your dollar is better in a tank, than in a Bank.  For security, buy Victory Bonds.”

All these things serve as reminders that Canada, an ocean away, were fully behind the war to support their sister country. My Grandma and my husband’s Grandma only met a couple of times when they were alive but it really makes me think the stories they could have told. While my Gran was working in an airplane factory and spending some nights in bomb shelters my Grandma-in-law was here in Canada. She was almost exactly ten years older than my Gran. She was newly married and and supporting the war an ocean away.

So…what’s the end of the story here?  It’s back at the beginning. I was wondering if you could actually make candy with powdered milk so I decided to try.  Because I knew sugar was scarce in Scotland I decided on another source to add sweetness.  I figured condensed milk would be available so I used that.  And to give the candy a little Canadian flare I also used maple syrup.  And that is really all there is, powdered milk, condensed milk, maple syrup and a little bit of sugar.

powdered-milk-candy-ingredients

And you know what?  It works!  It’s not a hard type of candy but soft and chewy.  My husband turned his nose up at it but I told him to think about it.  If you were in the middle of war and couldn’t get sugar, this would be a pretty great alternative and he agreed.  I found the longer I left the candy the chewier it got.  You could also roll it in saran wrap to make individual portions or roll it in one big piece and cut into squares.  It’s surprisingly satisfying.

Did powdered milk candy save the war?  No, but the spirit and fight behind conservation contributed to it.  And it sure helped my Gran and her family make it through when there wasn’t much else.  That’s enough for me.

powdered-milk-candy

Powdered Milk Candy

1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

2 cups powdered milk

sprinkling of sugar

Pour the condensed milk and maple syrup in a bowl.  Add the powdered milk in gradually until everything is well combined.  It will be doughy but will stiffen up the longer you wait.  Take out a piece of saran wrap and lie on a flat surface.  Sprinkle some sugar on a cutting board.  Scoop some of the mixture and roll between your hands then roll in the sugar.  It will look like a tube.  Wrap in saran and leave to set.  Wait at least an hour before cutting into pieces.  When you do cut into pieces, leave in saran and peel off just as you would a candy.

I would like to thank the following two sites that I read when researching for this post.  Without them this post would not be possible.

Culinaria – A Taste of Food History on the Prairies

Food on the Home Front during the Second World War

Healthy Lunch Options in Mission Calgary

Can you believe it’s February?  The month of January just flew by.  It seems like just yesterday we rang in 2017.  For us it was quiet.  I was feeling under the weather and stayed home on New Year’s Eve.  We as a family, our little family of three, sat together on our couch, snuggled under blankets watching movies together with snow falling outside.  And it was at that moment I realized my purpose for 2017.  This, more of this.  I want to get back to basics.

So that is what I have been doing this month.  First and foremost I have been focusing on me and getting myself healthy so I can be a better wife, mom, and friend to myself.  I know every year I talk about losing weight and this year is no different.  For the past month I have been quietly working on that goal.  And it’s working.  I have more energy, I feel lighter, and I’m feeling more  like myself maybe for the first time in about four or five years.

I know most people think losing weight is physical thing but really, to me, it’s a mental exercise.  Yes, what happens to you when you lose weight is physical but you’re not going to get there unless your head is in the game.  It takes mental toughness to create that goal and stay on it.  It takes organizational and planning skills to meal prep and make sure everything is ready for you to succeed.  And it takes thinking ahead and making plans for when you are in a situation where you aren’t sure what you are going to do.

And here’s what I mean by that.  Most of my week days I bring  lunch to work and eat with my Ladies.  But from time to time, you forget lunch or you get invited out.  And in my case, because I’m a food blogger, people come to me for restaurant suggestions.  That puts me in control so I need to make sure that I have some restaurants in mind where I can get food that fits in with my eating plan.

So here they are.  I work in Mission Calgary so all of these restaurants are on Fourth Street, very close to my office.  If I can’t eat my pre-made lunch these are the next best thing.

Aida’s Bistro

aidas-fattoush-salad-with-prawns

Aida’s Bistro is one of my favourite spots on Fourth Street.  The food is very tasty and I love the Fattoush Salad.  It’s fresh, healthy and the pita chips on top give it that extra punch.  If you are needing some protein I like to get a side of Garlic Prawns.

Aida’s Bistro – 2208 4th Street SW; Calgary, AB; T2S 1W9

Foo Calgary

foo-calgary-tuna-tataki

Foo Calgary is one of the new comers on the street and a visit to their restaurant can be overwhelming because they have so many classic Asian street food dishes to choose from.  Very often when you order things like their Pad Thai or the Kimchi Fried Rice you are served a huge portion of food that is enough for two or three lunches.  However, I  found this bright Tuna Tataki that is portioned out perfectly for one meal.  The Tuna is fresh, the Soba Noodles fill you up and the Cucumber Ribbons with Miso Vinaigrette just brighten the entire dish.  This is an excellent option while your friends and co-workers end up bringing home take away boxes full of leftovers.

Foo Calgary – 2015 4th Street SW; Calgary, AB; T2S 1W6

OP to Go

op-to-go-tamarind-soup

OP to Go is a convenient option for me because I don’t even need to go outside the building to reach them.  They serve normal Vietnamese fare, like my favourite, Rice Vermicelli with Pork and Spring Rolls.  But I recently learned that on the first and fifteenth day of the lunar calendar month they also offer vegan dishes.  The day that I was in they served me a Tamarind Soup with crunchy sprouts that offered an interesting texture.  The hearty broth was sweetened with pineapple and the noodles were cooked perfectly.

OP to Go – 2024 4th Street SW; Calgary, AB; T2S 1W3 

Blaze Pizza

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blaze-calgary-tomato-basil-and-ovalini-salad

Another new restaurant on the street, and in my building, is Blaze Pizza.  Blaze is an attractive choice for so many reasons.  Their menu is clearly marked with the calorie count on each item which makes choosing healthy easy. You can opt for one of their own pizzas, like the Red Vine, or make your own.  Because you can choose as many toppings as you like, much like Subway, you can control what goes on your pizza.  They also offer a good selection of salads that come with a side of dressing, allowing you to control how much goes on.  You can eat in or take away so everything about this is really a win win.

Blaze Pizza – 2032 4th Street SW; Calgary, AB; T2S 1W3

So if you are on Fourth Street in Calgary and you are looking for an alternative to Subway or Mucho Burrito here are some things you can try. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Best of Bridge – The Family Slow Cooker Cookbook Giveaway

When I started planning this post I had a very different tale to tell you.

I was going to talk about how the Best of Bridge franchise was a popular choice in my home when I was growing up. My Mom loved the books, she cooked from them, took them to bed with her to read at night and she shared them with us as we grew up.

Then I was going to talk about how excited I was when I found out that my friends Julie Van Rosendaal, Elizabeth Chorney-Booth and their friend Sue Duncan would be joining the original Best of Bridge ladies and working on the series. That was May 2015 and my Mom was still alive then.  I was excited to chat with her and talk about what the new book might be like.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to talk with my Mom about the new cookbook because she was gone a few months later.  However, when I received my copy of the new Best of Bridge The Family Slow Cooker cookbook in the mail I opened it and the memories flooded back.  Underneath the hard cover the coil spine was kept intact and the format of the book was just like it was in the 80’s.  It made me think of my Mom and brought a tear to my eye.

best-of-bridge-the-family-slow-cooker

I was also going to talk to you about how I came to choose the recipe I was going to share with you. I love cassoulet and so I was tickled when I found the Not-So-Gourmet Cassoulet in the cookbook, I knew this would be the one.

All that being said, the real story here is how I came to own a new slow cooker.

Saturday came and I was focused, I was going to make this recipe, I was going to get this blog post done, I was determined! The prep went great and everything came together nicely.  We have an old crock pot and it has served us well.  I pulled it out and loaded it up.  I set it on low just like the recipe said and checked on it about half an hour later and everything was looking good.  I went about my business.

best-of-bridge-not-so-gourmet-cassoulet-ingredients

An hour or so later we were getting ready to go to my son’s basketball game and I checked on the crock pot to make sure everything was ok before we left. It was stone cold.  I looked at the dial and I couldn’t be sure but it looked like it might have accidentally turned off.  So I turned it to high and hoped for the best as we headed out for the game.

best-of-bridge-the-family-slow-cooker-the-old-cooker

We were joking in the car on the way over and my son was saying what if the crockpot really is broken, do we get to have hamburgers for supper? I don’t think he was so excited about my cassoulet.  Then at the game he rocked it, he played the best game he had ever had.  My husband said to me at half time, I don’t care what really happens, that crock pot is broken and we are taking him for hamburgers!

It was like a self-fulfilling prophecy, when we got home it was still cold. So everything went into the fridge, we went for burgers and then we went and got a new a slow cooker.

Fast forward 24 hours, the new slow cooker was ready to go. All the ingredients went inside and it was almost like magic, it started to snow.  We went off to church with supper cooking and I was praying that everything would work out and it did.  It was like it was meant to be, we got home with all the snow fresh on the ground and my house smelled amazing.  It was so cozy to be inside snuggled up with our warm dinner ready.

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The only thing I did differently from the recipe below was include a can of white kidney beans instead of red. That’s only because I wanted a different colour really.

So, here’s the giveaway. I’m really excited to give one of you this book.  And now that I have a new slow cooker with a removable crock we can explore together all the wonderful new recipes inside.  I can’t wait to try the baking, which wasn’t an option for me with my old crock pot.    I will open the contest up to residents of Canada and the US, except for residents of Quebec.  Click on the link below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And to give you a head start the lovely Ladies from the Best of Bridge have allowed me to give you this recipe below, I hope you enjoy it.

best-of-bridge-not-so-gourmet-cassoulet

Not-So-Gourmet Cassoulet

Easier and less fancy than the traditional version of this French bean stew, our “cheater” cassoulet is simple enough for weekday dining.

6 bacon slices, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

12 oz or 375g kielbasa or other smoked sausage, sliced

8 oz or 250g boneless pork chops, trimmed and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 tsp or 5ml dried thyme

3 cans (each 14 oz/398 ml) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (4 and half cups/1.125 L)

1 can (14 oz/398 ml) diced tomatoes drained

2 tbsp or 30ml tomato paste

1 ½ cups or 375ml of chicken stock or ready to use chicken broth

In a skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until it begins to release its fat. Add onions and sauté until onions are softened and bacon begins to crisp.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon mixture to a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, leaving the fat in the pan.

Cook sausage and pork chops in bacon drippings until browned on all sides. Transfer to the slow cooker, add carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, beans, tomatoes and tomato paste, tossing to combine.  Pour in stock.  Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours or until pork is fully cooked, vegetables are tender and sauce is slightly thickened and bubbling.  Discard bay leaves.

Serves 6 to 8.

Variation: Traditional cassoulet is made with duck confit, but we skipped it here to make the meal simpler and more affordable. If you’re aiming to impress, brown a couple of duck legs and add them to the slow cooker with the rest of the meat.  Chicken legs can be used if duck is not available.

 

Lest We Forget – Wartime Food

When we were kids my Grandma told us stories of her life.  Then when we got older she kept telling the same stories over and over again.  My siblings, cousins and I would look at each other with that knowing look and smile.  Later we would chuckle over how we have heard that same story told since we were kids.  But now that she is no longer with us I miss those times, I never thought I would say that.

However, my Aunt and Uncle were very smart.  Years before Grandma died they hired a biographer to come and sit with her to record those stories.  For that I will be eternally grateful because we all have a book now that keeps these well loved stories safe.

I often find myself pulling  the book out at this time of year because of the stories that happened during the war.  My Grandma grew up and lived in Glasgow, Scotland.  What she has to say reminds me how very lucky we are to be living in the world we live in today.

There is one section entitled “Wartime Food”.  There is a lot of talk in the book about food, which makes me smile.  I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.  Because Remembrance Day is close I wanted to take a post and share a few of my Gran’s words.  .

We always had lots of potatoes and lots of vegetables during the war, considering that you had to queue up for potatoes, for instance.  You had your ration book, and as I recall things weren’t sold by pounds or ounces but by amount of money.  You could buy one and four pence worth of meat.  Chicken wasn’t rationed and rabbit, but you never saw those anyway.  It was either mince or shoulder steak, whatever was cheapest because you couldn’t just put your money for expensive meat like a filet mignon.  As far as eggs were concerned you just didn’t get them.  If you were pregnant you got an egg a month, and if you had a baby, after six months you got an egg maybe every week.  You had to queue for your bread, but it was never rationed.

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We got about eight ounces of sugar and four ounces of butter a week.  Jam was rationed.  You had coupons, you know, and you could either spend your sugar coupons on buying sugar or go to a sweetie shop and buy half a pound of candy, but that meant you had to give up your sugar ration.  That’s how I used my sugar.  It was really funny at the table, like you know, all our names were on these wee bags lined up in a row.  When you sat at the table you had your own bag of sugar but when mother bought the sugar she always took so much out of every bag for puddings during the week.  She always had a wee bit of butter off everybody too.  But there was never a dispute at the table because everybody had their ration.

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I included these photos to give a representation of what this might look like.  They are not exact measurements but it gives you an idea what a weekly ration might look like, not a lot.

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Which leads me to my next request.  A story broke out on the news this week in Calgary about the Veteran’s Food Bank.  Their shelves are almost bare.  It’s hard to believe that these people who fought for our freedom may not have enough food to feed themselves and won’t be able to get the help they need.  I know that times are tough for everyone right now but I would like to ask you to consider helping out.

In Calgary, there is currently a food drive happening for the Veteran’s Food Bank.  You can drop off non-perishable food items and cash until November 15 at the Veterans Food Bank at 4539 6 Street NE.  Donations will also be accepted at any Royal Canadian Legion, Crown Surplus (1005 11 Street SE) and the Aero Space Museum (4629 McCall Way NE).  To find out more about this worthy cause please check out the Canadian Legacy Project by clicking here.

This is what is happening here but if you don’t live in Calgary I encourage you to look for other ways that you can contribute.

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