Tuesday, August 10, 2010

McDougall's Heritage Cookbook, or "Now You're Cooking with History!"

Edmonton’s McDougall United Church dates to 1871, and is among the oldest protestant congregations in Alberta. The current building, located in the city’s urban centre, is 100 years old as of September 1, 2010. Being a century old, the current church has its share of problems, including a roof in drastic need of repair. The Anniversary Committee has reprinted a cookbook originally published in 1953 by McDougall’s Evening Women’s Association. 3000 copies were printed and sold, raising over $2000 for the Organ Fund, which had been established a year earlier. The organ was showing its age, and needed extensive refurbishment, including a thorough cleaning, repair and replacement of parts both inside and out, a new console with unbleached tusk ivory and birch and rosewood pedals, new electro-pneumatic actions fitted to all manual and pedal stops, and the rep[air and restoration of the pipework. Undertaken by Norman Beard and William Hill and Son, both based in England, the job cost nearly $3000. The work was completed in September of 1955, around the same time the choir loft was renovated to its current configuration by local architectural firm Rule Wynn Rule. The refurbished organ, made possible by the hard work of the Evening Women’s Association and the sale of cookbooks, lasted until 1976, when the current organ was purchased and installed.
The book is 128 pages, and includes recipes for breads, pastries, cakes, cookies, pickles and relishes, jams and marmalades, meats, salads, candies, puddings, sauces, soups, sandwiches and beverages. There is a section on frozen foods, reflecting the larger societal trend towards home-freezers rather than community storage lockers. Interestingly, there is a short section dedicated to home economics, providing instructions on making your own silver polish and hand lotion, among other household tips. What I also really love about this book is that it is full of the advertisements of the original sponsors. Many of these companies have become household names in Edmonton, like the Garneau Theatre, and in Canada, like Woolworths.

By reprinting this cook book we are promoting the history of McDougall (and Edmonton), preserving the intangible heritage found in period cuisine, and raising money for the roof by selling the books for $15 each.

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