Household Notes November 2013

Slow cooking specialties

Edited by Anne Gray

    The days are getting shorter and the evenings feel cooler. Most of the apples have fallen or been picked from the trees, and the farmers’ markets have taken on a distinctly late-season look. Whew, feels like a quick turnaround from spring. 

    This month we have a selection of recipes that should be prepared now for December eating. These cakes, chutney, and mincemeat are worth the time and effort. The smell in your kitchen will have you humming carols and looking for your Santa apron. If you have a woodstove, all these recipes will be perfect slow cooking projects for the coming cool weather.



Anna Robertson, Millville, N.B.

    “This is my mother’s recipe. We have been eating this cake every Christmas I can remember.”

2 cups brown sugar

1 1/2 cups butter

1 cup molasses

3/4 cups coffee

5 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cloves

4 cups flour

1 1/2 pounds raisins

1 pound currants

1/2 pound citron

1/4 pound figs

1 cup strawberry jam 

    Mix the ingredients in the order given. Spoon the batter into two prepared pans, and steam for three hours, then bake at 275°F for one hour. I use waxed paper or parchment paper, greased, in my baking tins. 

    The recipe originally called for strawberry preserves, but I make it with jam.

My mother used one large basin to make this cake, but it’s too large for our family. Two smaller cakes work better for us. I usually keep one cake, and divide the other into two or three pieces for gifts.



Myrtle Conrad, Cow Bay, N.S.

    “My sister-in-law, Patsy Russell, shared this recipe with me. I have used it ever since as my dark fruit cake at Christmas. It is a family favorite.”

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups raisins

1 cup water

1 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg, beaten

1 cup mixed fruit

1 cup mixed peel

1 cup mixed cherries

    Mix together in a large saucepan the brown sugar, butter, spices, raisins, and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for six minutes. Take off the heat and mix in the flour. Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix well.

    Use two nine-inch by five-inch and one three-and-one-half by seven-inch loaf pans, or a tube pan. Line the pans with greased parchment. Spoon the batter into the pans, and bake at 350°F about one hour, or until a tester comes out of the cake clean. 


Rita Steeves, Lakeville, Ont.

    “We make this mincemeat every year around butchering time. If you have venison you can use that for all, or part of the meat. But use the suet, because other fats won’t be as good.”

5 pounds lean beef

2 pounds suet

3 1/2 pounds brown sugar

2 cups molasses

2 quarts liquid

3 pounds currants

4 pounds raisins

1/2 pound citron or peel

3 quarts apples

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon fresh ginger

1 tablespoon mace

1 tablespoon cloves

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon salt

    Chop the beef and the suet fine. Peel and slice the apples. Cook together the beef, suet, sugar, molasses, liquid, currants, raisins, and citron. Stir occasionally until all the ingredients have softened or melted. Add the apples and cook until they are tender. Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil and simmer until everything is well combined.

    Have jars and lids sterilized and hot for bottling the mincemeat. Pour the hot mincemeat into the jars and seal immediately. Store for several weeks before using. 

    You can use any combination of cider, fruit juice, wine, brandy, or liquor for the liquids. A couple cups of tea or coffee is fine, but too much will affect the flavor.


Verna Carson, Victoria, B.C.

    “Cranberries are popular here, but this recipe came from my sister-in-law in Nova Scotia. She makes this every year for Christmas.”

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup apple cider

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tart apples

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon mace

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 oranges

2 cups cranberries

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup nuts

    Grate, then juice the two oranges. Core and dice the apples. Finely chop the nuts. In a large saucepan, simmer the onions with the apple cider and the sugar for 30 minutes.

    Stir in the vinegar, the apples, the spices, and the orange rind. Simmer for 30 minutes or more.

    Add the cranberries, the raisins, and the orange juice. Boil slowly for 10 minutes, just until the cranberries burst. Stir occasionally. Stir in the nuts. Pour into sterilized jars and either hot water process or store in the freezer.

Black currant bounty

    We received the following letter from Helen Wilson in Seagrave, Ont. Does anyone have any information to help her?

    “I have had a wonderful crop of black currants for jam. My Aunt tells me they used to add rhubarb or applesauce to cut the thickness of the black currants. Does anyone know of this recipe? And if so, what are the proportions of the currants, sugar, and applesauce or rhubarb?

    “Also she tells me they used to add rhubarb to berry pies. Does anyone know about this recipe?”


    We had a couple slips between the original letter and the printer last month.

    In the recipe for Pumpkin Pie, please use only one and one-half teaspoons of cinnamon. Maybe that’s why nobody likes my pumpkin pie.

    In the Mock Cherry Pie, there should be one tablespoon of lemon juice in the ingredient list.