Culinary Delights

Settlers had a great variety of wild food when they came to these shores. Deer, lots of moose, squirrel, ducks, wild geese, and eggs of quail and pigeons. Bush rabbits/snow rabbits made tasty stews and pies. The quantity of fish included mackerel, lobster (fresh or canned for winter), herring (fresh or salted) as well as salmon (fresh and canned or smoked for wintertime), periwinkles (called pennywinkles, too) steamed in water, eels, haddock, tuna, mussels, and dried salt cod. Clambakes and salmon suppers were common events. There were wild bog cranberries, blueberries, heatherberry, blackberries, and black currants for desserts or winemaking. Dulse was another edible bounty from the sea.

Ron Slaunwhite recalls hunting with his grandfather: "They'd go over to Prospect to shoot moose, deer or rabbit then clean their take right where it was shot. With the big animals, they took what they could carry and covered up the game, and would go back over a week later by boat and bring most of it home to Terence Bay."

Menus included bread and molasses or bread and corn syrup, fishcakes, thick rabbit stew, canned wild fruit, rabbit pie and hot toddies made with everflowing rum, if wanted. When domesticated meat was available there would be Corned beef referred to as "boiled dinner" with potatoes grown in their gardens. Another meal might have been baked haddock with potatoes. Johnny cake and maple syrup was a favorite combination. Eels tasted sweet and were fried or boiled.

Eventually families had cows, hens, roosters, sheep and pigs and also grew in their gardens along with potatoes, veggies for the root cellar in the winter such as radishes, beets, carrots, and turnips. Cabbages of course were turned into sauerkraut. And they grew some celery.

Treats were heatherberry (black berries) pancakes, dumplings called "fried doughs" made of bread dough, fried and eaten with butter and molasses, and fudge.

Mary Kiley of Upper Prospect remembers Mr. Levy from Tancook Island coming every September in the 1950s to sell turnips, cabbage, apples and barrels of sauerkraut. She also remembers a truck called "Store to your door." It carried a variety of goods. Bartering for these goods took place, trading a barrel of salt herring or mackerel for a barrel of apples.


Apple Cider (Acadian)
Cut up 7 pounds of apples and place in an earthen crock. Cover with a gallon of cold water and let stand covered with muslin for 10 days, stirring each day. When fermentation ceases, strain and return the juice to the crock. Then add 3 pounds of sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Leave for 7 days, stirring daily. Skim and pour into a wooden keg and cork. In 6 months, it will be ready.

Blueberry Biscuits (Mi'kmaq style)
Boil a large quantity of blueberries for 3 to 4 hours. Compress them into disc-shaped cakes and let them dry in the sun. The Mi'kmaq stored these in birch-bark boxes as part of winter provisions.

Boiled Dinner 1
Soak boneless salt cod overnight in cold water. Drain and cover with fresh cold water and bring to the simmering point. Cook until tender. Combine 6 carrots, a small sliced turnip, 4 medium potatoes, 4 small onions and cook with salted water until tender. Place cod on a platter, surrounded with the vegetables and top with oil or drippings. Cover with a white sauce and garnish with 2 hard cooked eggs. To make white sauce: combine butter, flour, milk, salt and pepper, and slowly bring to a boil while stirring.

Boiled Dinner 2
Place 4-5 pounds corned beef in a large kettle and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 3 to 4 hours until tender. Add one hour before the meat is cooked and after skimming off any fat, 6 carrots cut lengthwise and quartered, 6 halved onions, and 2 small turnips cut in wedges. Thirty minutes later add 6 quartered potatoes and 1 small cabbage cut in wedges. Serve the meat on a large platter surrounded by the vegetables.

Fish Cakes
Mix 2 cups fish with 3 cups mashed potatoes. Form into patties. Bake or fry, and serve hot.

Eels (Fried)
Skin and clean 3/4 pound eels. Cut into desired lengths and place in a pan with salted water to cover. Parboil 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and wipe dry. Roll lightly in seasoned flour and fry in a small amount of fat to a nice brown.

Irish Stew
Cut 3 pounds of mutton into medium size pieces. Pare and slice 4 pounds of potatoes and cut 4 large onions into quarters. In a stewpot place a layer of potatoes, then layers of meat and onion. Season and repeat until pan is full. Add about a pint of water and simmer for 2 hours, covered. Shake occasionally to prevent sticking or burning. Serve with potato biscuits (recipe below).

Colcannon (Kohl Cannon)
Cook one head of cabbage with a small turnip or onion and carrots for about 45 minutes. Add 5 medium sized potatoes which have been sliced and cook until tender. Drain and mash together. Add butter and season with salt and pepper.

Lobster Stew
Scald a quart of milk in the top of a double boiler or over low heat. Add 2 cups boiled lobster meat cut in pieces, 2 tablespoons butter and seasoning. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not boil. Serve hot.

These were made of oatmeal and butter. The dough was rolled into thin flat cakes, cut into squares and toasted over the fire. These could be eaten hot or cold.

Oatmeal Porridge
Bring 1 quart of water to a rolling boil and sprinkle in 4 tablespoons coarse oatmeal, stirring rapidly to prevent lumps. Stir until thick, about 5 minutes, then cover and simmer for 30 min, stirring frequently. When half done add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Serves 4 or 5.

Potato Biscuits
Boil and mash 6 potatoes. Turn into a bowl and add 1 cup milk and 1 teaspoon melted butter and mix well. Add salt and about half a cup of flour to form a soft dough. Roll out on a floured board into a thin sheet. Cut into rounds. Bake in the oven and butter each cake when done, laying one on top of the other in a pile.

Rabbit Stew
Soak 2 prepared rabbits overnight in cold water. Dry well and cut into serving pieces. Dredge in flour, season and brown the pieces in oil or salt pork fat. Remove the pieces to the stewpot with enough water just to cover and simmer for about one and a half hour until nearly tender. Add vegetables and simmer until done.

Venison Pot Roast
Roll meat in seasoned flour and brown on all sides. Add half a cup of water and cover tightly. Simmer until tender (1-3 hours) Half an hour before the meat is done, add vegetables such as carrots, turnip and onions. When done, make a nice gravy to pour over it.