Blog Archives

Baked Beans and Buttered Bread is a Traditional Scoff

What a delicious traditional meal yesterday’s supper turned out to be with homemade baked beans and a slice of homemade bread. Normally it would be beans and bologna (“Newfie steak”), but we substituted for ham and Zest mustard pickles.

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The one meal I would never eat as a child was baked beans, not even to taste them. I even lived and worked in London, England from January to September 2007 where I would get an English breakfast served everyday with a helping of beans. I would not even consider touching the stuff. It was not until a stopover in Belfast, Northern Ireland during December 2007 that I re-call ordering the traditional breakfast one last time before I would return the Czech Republic to complete my studies and then home to Newfoundland for the holidays. On my plate again, were the ever present baked beans, likely predicting their faith of being left behind. However, after rejecting them for twelve straight weeks that summer,  something in me decided I should give them a try, especially when in the UK. It might have been my last time to experience that traditional cuisine. Who knew when I would return? To my surprise, I did not detest them.

Why then for 22 years had I been so unwilling to try them? I guess there are always decisions we make around our likes and our dislikes as children when it comes to food. I never liked spaghetti sauce, just “plain noodles for me”, or gravy, many of the condiments and a few others. Today, a nice helping of well-crafted sauce adds so much flavour and excites the taste buds. There is nothing I can think of now that is an outright NO when I look at a menu or pick up ingredients at  a grocery store. Taste is certainly acquired and if at first you’re not quite sure, then I would suggest to try it at least another time.

Expand and broaden your palate, especially when it comes to traditional Newfoundland foodstuffs.

Live Rural NL -
 
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Missing Grandma’s Raisin Pudding…

I always manage to have a big helping of my Grandmother Mitchelmore’s raisin pudding. It has that great vanilla flavour, bountiful amount of raisins and texture of sweetness, creating a perfect pudding – ones only grandmothers seem to know how to prepare. The raisin pudding during a Sunday dinner at Nan’s house is truly a treat. Maybe the art of food for traditional meals get enhanced by the younger generation over time.

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It has been quite awhile since I’ve had the pleasure of Nan’s homemade soups, puddings, bread and other treats. While on vacation this past August, I got news that my grandmother at the ripe age of 81 years had broken her leg.

My Nan is a very active senior, as she maintains large flower beds, vegetable gardens, does crafts, makes quilts and also does quite a bit of travelling. Although, the past few weeks have been the quiet road to recovery, no doubt in the coming weeks she’ll be back on her feet as busy as ever.

I’m certainly looking forward to sitting with her, chatting and enjoying her traditional meals in the near future. The time we spend with our family in rural Newfoundland & Labrador, will be treasured memories.

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Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

The House of the Original Fairmount Bagel – Montreal, QC

There are certain things you must do where you visit certain places – like having a Beaver Tail on the Rideau Canal, drinking a Mojito in Cuba and tasting a crepe in Paris. In Newfoundland & Labrador we have many traditional dishes you should try while here, including:

  1. Split peas soup & dumplings
  2. Lassie Bread
  3. Toutons
  4. Fisherman’s Brewis
  5. Baked beans & hash
  6. Jigg’s Dinner
  7. Fish & Potatoe w/ Pork scrunchions
  8. Rabbit & Paste
  9. Moose Burgers
  10. Caribou Steak
  11. Moose Stew
  12. Fish Cakes
  13. Figgy Duff

During a visit in late-June to Montreal, I was introduced to a traditional taste enjoyed by many Montrealers – the bagel. The overpowering aromas filled the air of freshly baked bagels. There were racks upon racks – several being loaded on a truck to go to market. It was great to be able to purchase directly from the producer at “La Maison De L’Original Fairmount Bagel”.

My friend who lives in Montreal introduced me to this place and also to Smoked Salmon Spread, which we was delightful to the taste buds. Although, I must admit that I was skeptical at first.

It just goes to show sometimes we need to be open-minded. You may realize that by giving something chance you may find a new joy.

Consuming culture can be as simple as eating the sesame seed bagel with salmon dip from a local bagel shop. When you visit a new place, I encourage you to try local foods. As I try to  prepare often local dishes for myself and those who come and visit me in Rural NL.

Bon A petit!

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

 

Jumping Bean Blueberry Tea

I look for products that are Made Right Here, in Newfoundland & Labrador. Sometimes, I am able to find them when I catch NTV‘s Danielle Butt on her weekly segment, Made Right Here. However, on this occasion I was at visiting Gros Morne Cabins and Endicott’s Convenience in Rocky Harbour. This business has a wide-retail selection of food items, convenience goods, camping supplies, crafts, tour options, information and some locally made products. I found Jumping Bean’s Blueberry Tea.

I enjoy the local berry teas, especially the ones I have sampled from the Dark Tickle Company, St. Lunaire-Griquet (one of our many Northern Pen Gems). You may purchase their product online by visiting www.darktickle.com.

This particular tea caught my attention as it was loose tea. Only a few weeks prior my grandmother told me how the tea they would get came in wooden boxes. It was loose tea leaves packed in a foil to protect it from getting damp. I’ve had loose tea before when I was in Egypt, but never prepared a pot myself.

I got a chair, my arms extended to the top shelf of the cupboard to carefully pull out a tea-pot that my mother received as a wedding present more than 30 years ago. She has an exceptional memory and told me the people who gave her and dad the present. It is remarkable! She remembers birthdays, telephone numbers and other every life events. If an elephant never forgets, my mother is like an elephant. However, that may be the only similarity as she has quite the petit figure.

I normally would have asked my mother how to make this stuff; however, she is not a tea drinker. I am not sure if she has ever had a cup in her life. My father, on the other hand would always have a cup of Tetley with his morning breakfast meal. Since this was my first preparation, I looked at the directions, which read:

Directions: Place the desired amount of tea leaves in the tea sac and twist the top to close. Steep for 4-5 minutes in freshly boiled water and enjoy!

Somehow, I feel the directions should be written with more structure to appease the novice tea drinker. I really had no idea how much of the stuff I should be throwing in  and what amount of water to use. Some recommendation would be nice, in combination with…. or as your tastes desires.

In the end, I must have done something right as my cup of tea turned out to be a hit. It had natural berry flavours that were silky smooth and relaxing. I look forward to another cup of tea with my raisin cake in the near future.

If you would like to find out more about Jumping Bean, you can visit them on the web at www.jumpingbean.ca. They also make a variety of coffees, which include East Coast Roast and my personal favourite, Newfoundland Screech!

If you have the chance, pour yourself up a cup of loose blueberry tea from Jumping Bean.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Brewis and Eggs for Sunday Dinner

“HAM AND EGGS – A day’s work for a hen; A lifetime commitment for a pig”

- Anonymous

Purity Factories continue to provide me with the Hard Bread (Hard Tack) that I need to make a meal of delicious brewis. Most of us have beloved memories of foods that are the heart and soul of our upbringing – Purity Factories does just that for many Newfoundlanders & Labradorians.

This company continues to provide the staple foods demanded by locals, which includes a diet of Jam Jams, Syrups, Hard Bread and more. It was such a relief when the lock-out ended and the company started producing again. Before Christmas there was no hard tack to be found anywhere. If other bakeries did not consider making the stuff, I could only imagine the rioting that may have happened in the streets. :) Well maybe that is a little far-fetched, but Newfoundlanders & Labradorians feel a close connection with Purity Hard Bread. It truly is part of our traditions, passed on from generation to generation.

There are times when I get a craving for the foodstuff that is uniquely ours. Last night, the hard bread was soaking in preparation for brewis in time for noon, which we refer to as dinner, not lunch. I love the fluffy stuff with a bit of sugar sprinkled on top, served up with a couple of eggs. It is a real treat!

My mother made the comment, “wondering why local restaurants do not promote this and have brewis and eggs on the menu for breakfast and dinner?” It seems like a good idea to me. Maybe a local restaurant will add this traditional delicacy to their menu or maybe one already has it, if so, please let me know and I will update this post.

We have an opportunity for a rural food revolution, to have culinary experiences and foodstuffs on menus that are not found elsewhere. We have a history that spans 50 centuries, with so much to offer. The Great Northern Peninsula can be a great place for some good grub.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

A Seal Flipper Foodstand?

Why are we not serving up Seal Flippers throughout the summer season?

Moose Burgers, Moose Stew and Caribou Steak have made the menus of some local restaurants and have made appearances at various festivals and special events throughout the summer. They sell like hot cakes. But seal meat does not make the cut? I have been hearing that seal flippers have been for sale recently at the waterfront at St. Johns, NL in a large supply over the local radio network. However, that is not Rural NL.

Crepe Stand, Paris, France

After travelling to many countries, there always seems to be a mobile food service stand that sells something significant to the culture. In Paris there are crepes made at street vendors. They are incredibly delicious. In Switzerland and the Czech Republic at Christmas, roasted nuts appeared to be a staple. New York has their famous hot dogs and Belgium – waffles, of course.

 
There may be room for an outlet that sells seal, wild game and other traditional cuisine of Rural Newfoundland & Labrador for those on the run.
 
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
 
 

 

Baked Bread by Grandmother Pearl

In previous posts, I have mentioned the highly talented baking skills of my Grandmother Pearl and the delicious squashberry jam she prepared. On Monday, I dropped by her house and was greeted by the pleasant smell of freshly baked homemade bread.

Freshly Baked Bread from Grandma Pearl

We had a wonderful conversation over a steeping hot cup of coffee and tea at the kitchen table, as we peered out the window at the setting sun over the Strait of Belle Isle. I remembered as a child picking blackberries on the barrens near the ocean in her backyard. I would bring them in for her to make me the most delicious blackberry puddings. It would be a real compliment with Sunday’s Dinner.

 
My grandmother is still very youthful and community-minded. She is actively involved with the 50+ Club, Lionness Group, Church Group and many more organizations. She gets involved with fundraising activities, attends socials and at the time was icing a cake to bring to a grieving family in the community.  I only hope to stay as active as she is when I reach her youthful age. We talked about several challenges for small non-profits and noted some action that may be taken to bridge some gaps.
 
It was a wonderful visit. I do not do it often enough and must make a greater effort to do so more often. My Grandmother gave me one of her freshly baked loaves of bread. It was a treat with my supper meal.
 
If you have the opportunity, take some time to visit a loved one. If you can, enjoy that cup of tea or freshly sliced piece of homemade bread.
 
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Needing Grandma’s Green Thumb to Grow Tomatoes

My grandparents have always maintained two large gardens between our house and theirs. At this time of year as a little boy, I was quite eager to help in the garden. Maybe some of the excitement stemmed from the fact that I spent all day in the mud and the work felt more like play; it could have been that tracking around mud got on my mother’s nerves or maybe just spending time with my grandmother, grandfather and other relatives was full of enjoyment.

The garden provides our family with enough potato to last the season. As well, an abundance of turnip, carrot, greens, radishes, cabbage and onions. Additionally, my grandmother has a strawberry patch she maintains and a beautiful flower garden.

I only hope to have some of her green thumb, as I am trying to grow tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, green onion and other vegetables I enjoy, but at times are difficult to obtain or costly to purchase. The project will lead to a greenhouse to transplant and nurture these vegetables.

Growing Tomatoes

A visit to the grocery store this week set off an alarm that food prices are certainly climbing at an alarming rate. Three tomatoes were priced at nearly $5.00, brocoli was $4.00 and there was no asparagus. Food prices and food security has become an increasing issue, especially for rural regions. In the past, we were able to subsist of food we grew on our own. Although there are gardens at roadside, far more people are opting to buy from the California Farmers or elsewhere than from our own backyards.

 
We should reclaim the land that can grow us an abundance of nutritious food, construct greenhouses and build community gardens as a means to combat soaring food prices. In co-operation, rural communities can grow stronger!
 
I hope my little crop produces some good results!
 
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore

 

Apple, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Lingonberry Vinaigrette

The Lingonberry in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is referred to locally as the “Partridgeberry”.

After reviewing From Our Atlantic Woods -Non-Timber Forest Product Directory 2009-2010, a recipe supplied by Pure Labrador seemed like a delicious use of for local berries.

Apple, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Lingonberry Vinaigrette (Serves 4)

Ingredients (Vinaigrette)

Directions -

Mix all together and shake well

Ingredients (Salad)

  • Mixed baby salad greens
  • 1 apple
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) crumbled blue cheese

Directions -

  1. Spread a bed of salad greens on 4 plates
  2. Core and quarter the apple
  3. Thinly slice each quarter into 6-8 slices and place on the greens in an attractive fan
  4. Sprinkle 1 tbsp (15 ml) each walnuts and blue cheese over the apple and greens
  5. Drizzle the Lingonberry Vinaigrette over the salads.

 I am looking forward to trying this salad, which will have local wild berries. Be creative with locally grown products and start your own FOOD REVOLUTION!

Rabbit Soup on Saturday

 

Wild Rabbit Soup

The utilities company noted they would be doing some upgrades to the main power line, leaving local residents from Castor River to Eddies Cove without electricity until 11:00 AM. This delayed my traditional lunch at grandma’s house.
 
 Early in the morning, I lit a fire. The heat from locally cut wood, provided much warmth. I did some chores and brought out some light trash. I dropped in to visit my grandmother, who faithfully had the pot on the stove and noted she was cooking “Rabbit Soup”, but it would not be ready until about 1:30 PM. We chatted for a bit  and she had also proudly showed me all her knitting. She certainly keeps quite busy.

Rabbit

The table was prepared, with homemade bread, the salt & pepper shakers, the rabbit had been taken from the pot and soup ready to be poured into each bowl. The rabbit was delicious. My grandmother and I always have a good chat, whether it is about the hockey game, curling, gardening, weather or past times. I had told her I was looking at old photos earlier, some of which included my grandfather, father and of  course my childhood.RabbitMany good memories.
 
I enjoy traditional recipes of rural Newfoundland. My grandmother and I discussed how traditions are dying as far fewer people of the younger generations are cooking with wild game. Modernization and the convenience of pre-packaged food is having an impact on the dishes that have been served on Newfoundland tables for centuries.
 

 

RECIPE FOR NEWFOUNDLAND RABBIT SOUP
 
 1 lb. Salt beef
2 qts of cold water
1 Wild game rabbit (cleaned and cut up)
3 carrots
1 lb turnip
4 med. Potatoes
1 med. Onion
few drips of gravy browning
3 ½ – 4 qts. Cold water
 
Cut salt beef into small pieces. Place in large saucepan and add 2 qts. cold water. Bring to a boil. Place salt beef, rabbit and remaining 3 ½ qts (cook 1 ½ hours). Add vegetables  and browning. Cook 30 minutes.
 
Bon Apetit!
 
Live Rural NL 0
Christopher Mitchelmore
 
 

Christmas Traditions

The Holiday season is to be spent with loved ones. Sometimes they are not always with us in a physical sense, but are in our hearts.

This Christmas will be the 12th on celebrated without my father. He is still present and ever remembered. I will not forget all the times we would spend together searching for that freshly cut Christmas tree. My father would take extra care in trimming some of the branches. Not to mention drilling holes and filling spaces it branches. Our tree had to be very full of life! As a family we all had a part in the decorating. It was tradition. Over time that has changed as we have an artificial tree, which certainly does not have the same appeal but does the job. It is now my time to string the lights (something I never wanted to do as a child, guess it is part of growing).

I remember hanging lights outside. My father would give me the task of organizing all the lights, creating a pattern of red, green, yellow, blue. It was a challenge with all the bulbs that needed replacing and having to use a potatoe or vaseline sometimes to remove them. My father trusted me and as a team we would get those lights up all around the house. Last year I gave up on the old strings and started buying some LED lights (still multi-coloured, of course) and have added again this year. They are up hanging with plastic clips. I smile as there are remains of staples on some shingles (reminding me of assisting dad) :).

We always delivered presents on Christmas Eve, ate pizza at my aunt and uncle’s house and went to church late at night before leaving milk and cookies for Santa and some carrots for his reindeer. Christmas morning after opening our presents would be spent with grandma and grandpa opening their gifts.

Times have changed as my mom usually works Christmas Eve, so I am typically tasked with delivering presents (sometimes with my sister). This year my aunt and uncle will spend Christmas Eve with their kids and grandkids away, so no pizza with them. It has been several years since we all attended church service or even spent Christmas together as a family. As well, my grandpa passed away this year.

This year 2010, my sister and her husband will be home for the holidays. For me it is my first time since 2006 and long overdue. We will create new traditions, while hanging on to some old ones, which include the lunch for Santa!

Think about your Christmas times with friends and families, old traditions and new ones! It is just two weeks and change away….so enjoy! Make new memories today, tomorrow and always.

From Live Rural NL – CCM

Brigus Blueberry Festival

Beautiful Brigus

Newfoundland & Labrador is well-known for a summer of events, activities and festivals.

The Brigus Blueberry Festival is Award Winning and in its 23rd year! I dropped by this summer along with the other 17,000 plus visitors during August 12-15, 2010. It was my first time in historic Brigus on this lovely Sunday afternoon. The event coordinators expected a large crowd and had made the main streets one way to help with the flow of traffic. It took a little while to get a packing space, as it seemed everyone was arriving at the same time.  After safely parking in a large field, I was not disappointed as I walked through the streets of this quaint town that boasts beautiful vernacular heritage architecture. There were large crowds and great photo opportunities.

The festival activities include: A Royal Shag Up” – comedy dinner theatre, Steps Through Time - walking tour, Newfie night with Screech Ins, community breakfasts, dinners, and suppers, a two-day Folk Festival with well-known Newfoundland talent, visits by Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador and Miss Newfoundland and Labrador, the Missed Blueberry Pageant, raffles, craft stalls, baked goods, a pie eating contest, games of chance, mooseburgers, cash bar, children’s games, dances, and fireworks at the Brigus Waterfront. (http://www.brigus.net/blue.htm)

The waterfront

We stopped to have a mooseburger and beer, which went down very nicely! It was followed by a good drop of moose soup. It was good, but not comparable to my grandmothers…she makes the world’s best! There was a large queue to enter. The toll was $2.00 for the complete weekend pass. A number of booths and stands were set-up with local artisans, organizations and entrepreneurs selling their wares. We made our way pass the many games of chance and listened to some traditional Newfoundland music.

We decided to drive through Cupids, celebrating 400 years as the oldest Town in English North America! As well as visit Carbonear and Harbour Grace. The SS Kyle still remains aground as you enter this town.

It was a wonderful day, filled with lots of fun, food, sounds and sights! I recommend you to put the Brigus Blueberry Festival on your list of things to do. So make sure you mark your calendars for the 24th annual in August 2011!

Live Rural NL – CCM

Island Adventures to Miquelon-Langlade…(Part II)

Traversing through the sea caves

The tour began at 8:30 AM at the docks in St. Pierre. We previously purchased our tickets at the Tourist Information Office the previous day for just 60.50 Euro (~$80.00 CDN). At the docks we were greeted by the “tour opérateur” Monsieur Jean Cloony and handed life preservers; then took our seats on a large zodiac with two powerful motors. The sky was a little grey, but the rain held and we had a very nice ride to a sea cave formation, where we crept inside and once beyond we saw a group of harp seals resting on the rocks of the island. It was quite a treat, to see these white coats watch as we passed on. Some decided to plunge into the ocean, maybe they were startled by the sound of our engines or just hungry. It has been a long time since I’ve been so close to such an animal.

Seals on rocks

The Great Seal Hunt has historical significance and plays a role even today as we continue to live our rural heritage. In winter I proudly wear a pair of seal skin boots. The leather was prepared, barked and tanned by my father. They are the last pair I will ever own that have his talent and craftsmanship. Although they are more than 11 years old, I hope to have them for the rest of my days. A future article will be dedicated to the Great Seal Hunt.

The zodiac ride was 40 minutes. We passed a few fisherman’s camps that were strategically placed between the cliffs, well sheltered from weather and perfect for launching a boat. We landed in Langlade to be met by friendly locals ready to pull our boat to shore. It was time for breakfast at “Chez Janot”, the only restaurant in town!

Chez Janot

After a cup of coffee and croissant we boarded an air-conditioned bus with seating capacity for 20 and bilingual audio. We visited Langlade, which has beautiful sites and is basically untouched and uninhabited (excepted during summer months). The population goes from 0 – 200 people. Some of these people have summer houses, but most are like Newfoundlander‘s, they enjoy camping! Our first stop was a lovely French garden. My grandmother certainly would have smiled seeing all the love gone into caring for the variety of flowers. We continued to view l’Anse du Gouvernement, the Bellai Bridge (which crosses the Belle-Riviere), the Ste Therese Chapel, the Belle-Croix, the Debon brook and a lovely view from the Petit-Barachois.

French Garden

We returned to Chez Janot for a French-style meal, which included wine and a dessert with coffee. Tres Bon! We continued the afternoon on the bus, we drove on a sandy beach and stopped by the campground. One of the proprietors invited us all to stop for an aperitif. This alcoholic beverage was mixed with sparkling water and had hints of licorice. It was quite pleasant! The people on this quaint island we incredibly hospitable to their guests. We continued on our way to pass several wild horses. The children on the bus stopped to feed them some bread. Even the older people were smiling and in love with these animals. A little further up the road, one horse spotted “Chez Janot” bus and decided he would come visit.

Sorry...I don't have fare...

This horse was either well-trained or just curious, because none of the others decided to come near. He received some treats and we continued on our merry way to Miquelon.

Miquelon and Langlade were once two separate islands. Since the end of the 18th century, they have been reunited by a sand isthmus on which a road was built. The drive from the beach in Langlade to the village of Miquelon is about 24 kms. Upon arrival to Miquelon, which has a population of about 600 people we stopped and viewed the church, craftshop and harbour. We walked the streets and saw the Cap Blanc lighthouse. There is a museum for those that are interested.

Church

After a day of discovery, we returned to the zodiac. We arrived in St. Pierre at 5:30 PM. This enabled us to relax and returned to our friend’s house before we would dine for the evening over some delicious French-style cuisine and good wine!

If you want a memorable visit to the French Islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon you must consider this tour, if you wish to really experience the entirety of their adventurous archipelago.

For more photos of my trip, visit my Facebook Group at: “Live Rural NL”.

From Live Rural NL – CCM

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