I had a pint of tasteless blueberries that I did not want to go to waste and this book offered such an easy way to turn them into a baked treat I just had go put it through my test kitchen one last time.
Once again, the recipe was so very basic with its directions. You were supposed to cream 1/4 cup of shortening with 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 cup of sifted flour with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, “salt” (I used a pinch) and 1/3 cup of milk.
Apparently all at the same time! I couldn’t do it and just started creaming the shortening and sugar together, then added the egg, then the milk and finished it off with the flour.
Pour batter into a greased pan. It did not say how large so I just put it in a cake pan and topped with a pint of blueberries.
To make the topping cream together 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup of butter. This time I tried to do it all at the same time and it was not easy! I did manage to turn it into a crumble and then sprinkled over the blueberries.
“Bake in moderate oven for 45 minutes.” Oh yes, the cookbook is filled with vague directions like this one. I decided a moderate oven was 325F.
Luckily it turned out perfectly! A beautiful cake on the bottom topped with a moist blueberry crumble. Not a super sweet dessert, very easy to make and those flavourless blueberries came into their own.
I bet this was a family favourite in at least one woman’s New Brunswick kitchen. I give this recipe four out of five wooden spoons.
Apparently Mildred Trueman collected the recipes in Favourite Recipes from Old New Brunswick Kitchens by scouring old notebooks and recording dishes passed down by memory. From faded notebooks, scraps of paper, grandmothers’ memories… these recipes are the real deal which explains their odd shorthand and very basic writing style.
In comparison to Nimbus’ cookbook Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens, there is next to zero history which is disappointing. I wanted to hear about the people’s history and their relationship with food in New Brunswick all those years ago but there isn’t even an introductory paragraph. You go straight into the recipes with zero context.
Unfortunately there is also less charm when it comes to the design and layout of the book which is a shame. Also, some of the recipes felt more retro than vintage. There are recipes that include “ingredients” such as a can of mushroom soup or potato chips which gives this cookbook a more contemporary feeling than the Nova Scotia cookbook.
Still, there are many recipes that feel like they have been made for generations and in the course of doing a ton of recipe testing, I loved everything I made. All the food was tasty, delicious and simple to make.
For the beginner cook and baker, this book would be frustrating. Filling in the gaps when it comes to directions will be a challenge. Knowing how hot to preheat the stove, what pans to use, how long to cook the food… This type of instruction is often excluded because it is obvious that these foodie treats have been made so often only notation of the bare bones have been made for reference.
Favourite Recipes from Old New Brunswick Kitchens does have a lot of its own charm and the recipes I tested were all winners. Perhaps not for the novice cook but for someone looking for a little east coast heritage in their food, this cookbook is for you. I am personally holding on to my copy for good.
I give this cookbook four out of five wooden spoons.