Classic Blueberry Pie Kitchen Notes on Feminism

Don’t you love it when a friend goes berry picking and ends up with too many? And then when she invites you over to help her ‘get rid’ of them? 
More importantly, don’t you love it when you’re supposed to go for a walk with said

friend, only to have her invite you over to bake pies, instead?

My heart was heavy on Monday, and there was nothing I wanted more than to bury my hands in dough and bake pies. My first pie, in fact. This may sound bizarre to many of you, but at the risk of sounding redundant, almost everything I bake in my kitchen – with a few exceptions – is new to me, no matter how simple or classic. It’s the I-didn’t-own-an-oven-for-a-long-time thing, and I feel the need to reference this fact often to justify my lightweight status in the baking department.
I was really aching to give my new pie plate a try, too – the one given to me by my mother last week – so Erin’s invitation was the perfect remedy for a variety of my aches that day.

While women still have many a glass ceiling to break through, how fortunate are so many of us to cook simply for the love of the craft and its taste, just as the men who cook do, because of the advances made by the women who preceded us? To spend hours in the kitchen, not because it’s expected of us or considered among our feminine duties, but because it’s where our happy place is? To be given a beautiful stand mixer for your birthday, because it’s the lusty appliance of your heart, and not because, well… doesn’t every woman want a vacuum cleaner for Christmas?
That’s not to say this attitude doesn’t still exist, but my guess is that the women who blog about the food they love are not being condescended into the baking pans. And there were obviously a lot of women who loved to cook back then, too, as well as women who had supportive, equal partners in their lives. But having more of a choice in the matter these days is a beautiful thing. For me, food is an expression of my personality and goes without a trace of obligation.
“Born in Beeton, Ontario in 1891, Kate Scott learned the arts of homemaking and business from her parents. A born speaker and educator, she began teaching at only 14 years old. Shortly after her marriage in 1914 to her childhood sweetheart, Henry M. Aitken, Kate began a business canning and preserving the crops from their farm. Soon, residents and restaurants alike were clamouring for her products. As her reputation grew, she was invited by both provincial and federal Departments of Agriculture to lecture across the country. She also became the Director of Women’s Activities for the Canadian National Exhibition, a position she held for 14 years.
Kate Aitken’s journalistic career was wide and varied. She was a beauty editor for a large Canadian weekly, was the women’s editor for the Montreal Standard, and wrote pamphlets for leading food companies. “Mrs. A” was on the radio three times a day, five days a week and audiences loved her no-nonsense recipes and down-to-earth advice.
After retiring from broadcasting in 1957, Aitken by no means slowed down. She devoted her time to working for the United Nations, UNICEF, and as a member of the Board of Directors for the CBC. Her tireless work and seemingly limitless talent has left a legacy for all Canadians.”
You can read even more about her on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Archives, where she hosted radio show from 1948-1950.

While her work and perspective may still have been gendered, she was also working within the social and power structures of the day, so leaving such a big mark in otherwise male-dominated industries is to her credit indeed. I wonder what she’d be like if she were a food blogger of today’s generation? I’m admittedly a little fascinated by her now, so will be looking for more Kate Aitken reading material in the very near future.

(I  definitely have gender roles and issues on the mind these days – the timing of this recipe coming into my life is interesting, to say the least – and I am so grateful for my thoughtful, supportive, and respectful, F.)

Social commentary aside, I might try a dough recipe with a larger yield next time, since my new pie plate is so big that I had to roll the dough quite thin in order for it to fit. While it was delicious and I was completely pleased with myself over the results, I do prefer to have a slightly thicker pie crust.
And in case you want to give Kate Aitkin’s pie recipe a try – or any of her lovely variations – here is its close-up.

Autumn is starting to make its first appearances in town and there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to make and preserve all the things that are currently fresh and delicious! This is why I was so happy to share in Erin’s late summer’s bountiful blueberries. They are just perfect for an early autumn treat, like blueberry pie, n’est-ce pas? 
What’s your favourite way to bake or preserve autumn’s way into town?


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