Thursday, October 28, 2010


This piece was written in the front of the cookbook and it highlights some of my ideas I'd like to explore with the Lowville Recipes; betting back to basics, cutting down on meat, not taking food for granted, making food a priority, and using food to bring people together. 

On Burnt Offerings and Cooking in Bible Times
Rev. Wayne Irwin
In bible times the simple gathering and preparing of good was one of the major occupations in life- the alternative being starvation. Nevertheless, food was not considered solely a means of sustaining life; it had great social and economic significance as well. Any pact or covenant was always sealed by participation in a common meal- to refuse was to express contempt for the other party to the agreement and to rupture the fellowship. And foodstuffs, therefore, were among the most important items of foreign trade- very useful in exerting pressure on international relations.To prepare special food and to present it as an offering to honour a guest was among the more common and more respected of the social graces of the day. And the offering of one's best animal be burning it upon an alter, it's sweet smoke rising to the heavens was a gesture of homage for God- a gesture understood to place God under obligation to be peaceful and forgiving. Perhaps from this emerged the precept that "the best way to the heart is through the stomach."Meat was not a regular part of the diet in those days. The chief reason was the scarcity of domestic cattle, particularly when any such animals were the family's providers of cheese and curds and milk. Meat then, was generally obtained through hunting, and then mainly pigeons and turtle doves and sometimes locusts, with lamb and goats being used at festival times. The wealthy lived on veal.Meat was most commonly boiled in water, or otherwise roasted in an oven, barbecued on a spit or fried in oil. It was always almost overcooked so it could be easily pulled from the bone. Chicken was unknown in Old Testament times; and fish was rare; although by the time of Jesus, fish was increasing in popularity, being mainly prepared by broiling over coals.Vegetables were scarce because of the climate. Beans and lentils were most common, either being eaten in their natural state or boiled into pottage. Sometimes they were mixed with flour to increase the yield of bread. The husks of the carob tree, generally regarded as the animal fodder, served as  emergency food. And the most important fruits were olives, grapes and figs with the occasional inclusion of apples, pomegranates and dates.Honey was the sugar of antiquity and the main herbs were thyme, mint, but the one item eaten at every meal was bread. No matter what else was being prepared, bread was made ready as well, often being dipped in olive oil and then swished through some ground spice and herbs to provide variety of flavouring in what otherwise could be very monotonous meals. The bread was made from barley and emmer (a primitive form of wheat), occasionally from millet, and once in a while from spelt (the plant often serving as a border for the field). The grain itself was sometimes consumed uncooked, sometimes roasted in a pan, sometimes simply parched in a fire. It was also made into a porridge, to be seasoned with salt or onions or leeks and garlic and to be sprinkled with seeds such as anise or coriander or cumin or dill.Food itself was considered a gift from God, a gift not to be presumed upon, a gift not to be taken for granted- a symbol of God's providential love. In out present day we share an abundance of foodstuffs undreamed of even by the ancient royalty, for their land of milk and honey was a wasteland in comparison to ours.And so it is that Lowville United Church publishes a collection of favorite recipes- tested instructions for the preparation and presentation of special food in our day. May the enjoyment of the tastes and textures of these offerings being enhancement to your times with others, and may their sweet and savoury smells rise up in contemporary gesture of profound gratitude to God.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tastes Like Home

I wanted to start this off with a bit of a bang, so I called the buddies and staged a good old home cooking and games drinking night. I found a decently priced pork roast at the market down the street, and with BC Apples being in season, I thought it would be a great dish to enjoy on a rainy Saturday night. I'm also preparing BREAD! I seem to bike by bakeries no matter where I'm cycling to in the city, and I wanted that smell to fill my house. So let's get down to business.

Trip to Donald's Market

Makes 8-10 servings  WW Points= Appr. 7pts/serving
Pork Roast- appr. 4lb
1 1/2cups applesauce
3/4cup red current or cranberry jelly
(I chose to grate the apples I had bought from the market and use cranberry jelly instead of red current. )
4tbsp beef broth
1/4tsp allspice
Place roast in shallow pan uncovered in 325F oven for 2.5 to 3 hours.
Combine all other ingredients in saucepan to heat. Add half of the mixture to roast half an hour before it's done. Save the rest to be added when served.

Makes 3 loaves, or 3 dozen rolls    WW Points= 35pt/loaf  3pt/roll
1cup lukewarm water
1tsp sugar
2tbsp yeast (2 packets)
Let mixture stand for approximately 10 minutes or until yeast has risen to surface.
Into yeast mixture stir:
2cups lukewarm water
1 heaping tsp salt
1/2cup shortening
Beat or stir together, then stir in 1 cup at a time of 8 cups of flour.
Once mixed, knead for several minutes on a well floured surface. Put back in bowl and let rise, covered, for 1-2 hours. Dough should be double in size. Knead again and divide into three equal parts, or 36 rolls. Place dough in well greased and floured loaf pans, and let rise in a warm spot until the dough is over the top of pans. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes.

The pork roast turned out amazingly. It was very moist and flavourful. The apple sauce was a perfect addition to the roast and had a great autumn feel to it. The bread was a hit and there were no rolls left at the end of the night and I was really happy with the way it turned out.

Both of these items were pretty time consuming, but the actual preparation was fairly simple. I would definitely make the roast again on any night, and I'm quite excited to make some different variations of the bread. What a success!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Where It Begins

When I was a kid, I attended Lowville Church in Waterdown Ontario. My Grandmother attended the church for many many years, as did members of my extended family. Every few years or so, they put out a collection of recipes in the form of The Original Lowville Country Cook Book. 

Throughout my childhood, my mother and I would often reference this book for easy, delicious, and kid friendly recipes. It was my favorite cook book and I'd always planned to nab it from my mom when I moved out. 
Well the time did come when I moved out, and as a 19 year old girl, the cook book was last on my list after shoes and matching handbags. A couple years went by and I had still yet to take the cook book, but better so since I made the decision to forgo all of my material possessions and take a trip across the world- a cook book was not going to fit in my backpack. Luckily my dad convinced me not to get rid of everything, but rather store it, just in case there were things I was interested in down the road.

Down the road we are now, and upon my return to my hometown, I was able to revisit box after box of these things I thought I may be interested in. The handbags and shoes were maybe not too important now. But in the special box that mom had always kept for me; you know the one- kindergarten drawings, grade 8 diploma, photos of your first cat; there it was, The Original Lowville Country Cook Book. I thought it was the one that we had used all my life, the one with the dirty pages and fingerprints, but it wasn't. It was a clean copy, with all its pages intact, and a simple inscription on the first page.

"1991          With Love to Laura on her 5th birthday, From Grandma"

If you know me, you know what happened next...I cried...a lot. Grandma passed away in 2008 and seeing this book almost felt like she knew me better at 5 years old than I know myself now. 
Since moving to Vancouver and settling down a little bit, I've been changing my ideas on food; not just how it nourishes our body, but how it nourishes our soul. In a world of fast food, fad diets, microwave meals, and food that travels 30,000km to get to my kitchen, I wanted to rethink it all.
My challenge is to buy locally; take time out of my day to make food that is healthy, homemade, and delicious; and still lose weight on Weight Watchers.

What's not a challenge is to make the meals my grandmother made and fed to her children. Get back to basics, and share it with the people I love.
I invite you to follow along as I document my journey through this book and my reconnection to Grandma.

This is Laura and Lowville- Lo vs Lo