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  • Paula Altenburg

Simple Things

I found this cookbook the other day and I had to have it. It brought back so many memories!

My grandmother taught me to cook. She grew up and married through two world wars and these women learned to make do with whatever was on hand. She knew how to make substitutions for things on the fly—how much cream of tarter and baking soda to use when there was no baking powder on hand, for example. And how to use heavy cream instead of shortening when making biscuits.

A lot of the recipes in this book were originally based on individual experience and intuition, which is why no two cooks ever produced the same results. A handful of this, a pinch of that… I have my grandmother’s recipe for mincemeat where everything is measured by the bowlful. The recipe in this book calls for beef, but when I grew up, deer meat was always used. I remember using the lesser quality cuts so nothing went to waste—it was boiled and then ground up in a meat grinder.

The recipes in this book reflect the peoples who lived in and later settled in Nova Scotia: the original Mi’Kmaq; the French; the English; the Germans; the New Englanders; the Irish; the Scots; and the Black Loyalists.

I’m not much of a cook, so I’m thrilled to be able to plan meals around three or four basic ingredients. When we move into our new house, my new kitchen will be getting a workout.

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