When I read the topic for this month’s Canadian Food Project I admit I was hesitant. True to form there was all kinds of canning, pickling, freezing, smoking (salmon), sausage making (moose) and jam preserving going on in my home at any given time. But I didn’t have any memories or special stories/recipes to share of being involved in these kinds of traditions. Until I started thinking about this post. I remembered a couple of our small town cookbooks in my collection; the Skeena Valley Fairs Association Anniversary Cookbooks in which my mom has many recipes. Then things started to flow.
The Canadian Food Project Experience was started on June 7, 2013 by Valerie Lugonja of A Canadian Foodie. It’s a compilation of Canadian Food Bloggers who are committed to sharing their time, unique regional Canadian food experiences, and recipes. We hope to bring clarity to our Canadian Culinary identity. Through the Canadian Food Project Experience, I am rediscovering a childhood full of food memories in a way I never knew possible. I must say thank you to Valerie yet again, for allowing me to participate in such an incredible walk down memory lane.
We didn’t have very much money when I was a child, but we foraged what we had to from our garden/land. While always curious as to what I was seeing, (from moose carcass hanging in garage and then being ground into sausage, to live octopus in the sink) I was usually off in a shadow somewhere observing the process, from afar. When it wasn’t happening where I could observe (like in our home today), many of these traditions were done well into the evening, after the kids were in bed. And so it goes the only participating I did was to indulge and eat the goods when they were ready.
These carefully prepared bites lasted all winter. We had cherry, apple, crab apple and plum trees. Everything got canned. Gooseberries, red currants, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, saskatoons and raspberries grew in our garden. They became jam, canned, frozen or fruit wine. In the garden I remember green beans, potatoes, peas, cucumbers and tomatoes. Everything had a place.
My dad was an avid river fisherman. He would always bring in the big Springs, Steal head, and Trout when it was salmon season and get his quota. The salmon would be filleted, prepared and marinated in a brine for smoking and then carefully smoked in an old gutted refrigerator turned smoker. While I remember most of the process there are still a few questions. Today no other smoked salmon compares to his in my mind. I will recreate this recipe one day. They would also can the smoked salmon – it was so delicious. And if he was drawn for a moose there would usually be a moose to contend with. Living off the land, that’s what we did.
Fast forward to the present. Over the years I have participated in juicing (the kids love this), fruit drying with a dehydrator I used to own, making quick pickles out of vegetables, and soon I’m hoping to venture into the land of jams. We don’t have as much space to grow as my parents did but we make the best of what we have.
This summer I experimented with quick pickles. I did carrots, radishes, cucumbers and spanish (red) onions, separately. When looking back at some of the pickle recipes my mom and her friends made I was reminded that everything back then was with mustard seeds, turmeric and sealed in a hot water bath. This reminded of those yellow mustard pickles that I did not enjoy all so much, but at least I remember them.
Today I am sharing a mini cucumber quick pickle recipe. It’s not my mom’s nor was it a family tradition, but it’s mine. It’s great on burgers and I’m excited to try it on a sammy with mayo as suggested to me earlier today by a social media compadre. I might even mix it in with some quinoa and/or fresh made coleslaw over the days to come. Until then I challenge you to get pickling. If you love pickles, don’t be afraid to try it because if I can do it, so can you.
- 5 mini cucumbers, sliced thin
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp red pepper chili flakes
- 1 tsp fennel
- 2 cups white vinegar
- Add shallots and cucumber into your jar or the vessel you will be storing cucumbers in. Set aside.
- In a pot add vinegar, salt, sugar, chili flakes and fennel. Stir and bring to a boil. Pour hot liquid over cucumbers and shallots. Let sit for an hour or so at room temperature and strain before using.
- Can be covered and put in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
The cookbook recipes. In this one (my mom’s name is Elfrieda), she used flour! Intrigued indeed.
Another one of her pickle recipes.