Gingerbread, rice pudding, pumpkin pie and apple cake are all familiar Thanksgiving desserts, but have you heard of blancmange, apple fool or mount guard? These are just a few of the old, handwritten recipes found in the Nova Scotia Archives and now posted online, just in time for Thanksgiving.
The archives’ newest online resource, What’s Cooking? Food, Drink and the Pleasures of Eating in Old-Time Nova Scotia, includes digitized copies of about 1,000 old handwritten or early printed recipes, 17 cookbooks, as well as recipes found in newspaper supplements in the mid-20th century. The recipes, which date back to the late 1700s, can be found online at http://novascotia.ca/archives/cooking .
“Having been passed down for many generations, recipes offer great insight into our culture and heritage,” said Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Tony Ince. “It is fitting that we are able to share these recipes during the time of year when Nova Scotians gather with family and friends to give thanks.”
The online resource also includes a short history of food and dining in Nova Scotia, a list of published Nova Scotian cookbooks, lobster recipes, and even a collection of chocolate and candy recipes for commercial production.
“Nova Scotians are known far and wide for their hospitality and culinary traditions,” said Lois Yorke, director of Nova Scotia Archives. “Thanksgiving seems like an appropriate time for the archives to open its pantry and share over 200 years of digitized recipes and food-related images, all depicting the pleasures of celebrating together.”
Reading and interpreting the old recipes can be challenging. For example, the ingredients are given by weight and not by cups, tablespoons, imperial or metric measure. Ingredients were also known by different names. For example, baking powder was called pearl ash and gelatin was called isinglass. Today’s equivalents for several of the recipes tried by archives’ staff are found in the modern methods section.
What’s Cooking is the latest addition in a continuing series of digital products developed and released by the archives. For more information about archives’ offerings, go to https://archives.novascotia.ca/ .