Cask & Barrel

Plain Muffins

Mar
31

This recipe is transcribed from one of my Grandmother’s old cook books, given to her by her mother. I’ve written it down here as a way to preserve it, and also because I strongly believe that some dishes are best in their simplest form. When learning to cook anything new, I like to begin with the traditional method before experimenting with my own take on things. All ingredients and instructions are as written in the original text.


Flour, 2 cups
Baking powder, 3 teaspoons
Salt, 3/4 teaspoon
Sugar, 2 tablespoons
Egg, slightly beaten, 1
Milk, 1 cup
Shortening, melted, 2 to 4 tablespoons

Sift flour; measure; add baking powder, salt and sugar; sift again.

Combine egg, milk and melted shortening (slightly cooled); pour into flour mixture and stir just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. Do not beat.

Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full and bake in a hot oven (400 F.) 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 12 to 15 medium-sized muffins.

Cake Method (One-Bowl Method): For a finer-grained cakelike texture in muffins use unmelted shortening; cream the shortening, add sugar gradually; continue beating until light and fluffy. Add unbeaten egg and beat well; stir in milk. Add flour which has been sifted with baking powder and salt; proceed as directed above.


Kirk, Dorothy, ed. Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1953. Print.

Maple Bacon Mac and Cheese

Mar
27

In celebration of all things maple. This recipe uses a maple goat cheddar from Fifth Town Artisanal Cheese made with Fosterholm maple syrup, but any white cheddar can be substituted for a maple-free version.

Choose a short pasta with deep ridges or grooves, so the sauce has something to cling on to. Rotini, fusilli, and cavatappi are all good. If you use penne or rigatoni, make sure they have ridges as some varieties are smooth. I used radiatore and I think it’s become my favourite shape!

Maple Bacon Mac and Cheese

Yields 10 8 oz. portions

  • 1 L whole milk
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 package bacon (about 250-300 g)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 400 g white cheddar, grated
  • 450 g dried pasta
  • Salt to taste
  1. Bring milk to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently and making sure the bottom doesn’t burn. Add onion, bay leaf, clove, and nutmeg. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  2. While the milk is simmering, dice bacon into small pieces. Cook in a large skillet over medium heat, removing the liquid fat as it renders. Save fat in a bowl or jar. Remove bacon from skillet when it starts to get crispy.
  3. Return bacon fat to the skillet and add flour. Use a whisk to incorporate the flour and fat into a roux (a paste used to thicken liquids into a sauce). Cook until the flour turns light brown, being careful not to let it burn.
  4. Strain onion, bay leaf, and clove out of the milk. Using a ladle, add a small amount of milk to the skillet with the roux. Whisk together until smooth. Continue adding milk ladle by ladle, whisking after each addition until smooth. You can start to add the milk faster and in larger portions after about half the milk has been whisked into the roux.
  5. Add grated cheese and stir until melted.
  6. Cook pasta to al dente texture (firm in the middle). Strain and return to pot. Add cooked bacon and cheese sauce to pasta and stir to combine. Season with salt and serve warm.

Crusty Rolls

Mar
24

This recipe is transcribed from one of my Grandmother’s old cook books, given to her by her mother. I’ve written it down here as a way to preserve it, and also because I strongly believe that some dishes are best in their simplest form. When learning to cook anything new, I like to begin with the traditional method before experimenting with my own take on things. All ingredients and instructions are as written in the original text.


Water, boiling, 1 cup
Shortening, 2 tablespoons
Sugar, 1 tablespoon
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Yeast, 1 package
Enriched flour, sifted, about 4 cups
Egg whites, beaten, 2

Combine boiling water, shortening, sugar and salt; cool to warm.

Sprinkle yeast over a part of the cooled water mixture; after 5 minutes stir and combine with remaining water mixture.

Add 1 cup of the flour; beat until smooth; add beaten egg whites; beat thoroughly; add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out on board and knead about 10 minutes or until smooth and satiny.

Place dough in a warm greased bowl; brush top very lightly with melted fat; cover and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85 F.) about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down thoroughly; fold in edges and turn over so that smooth side is on top; cover and let rise about 3/4 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down; divide into 1 1/2 to 2 dozen portions of equal size, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Shape into rolls; place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet which has been sprinkled with white corn meal (or flour); cover and let rise about 1/2 to 3/4 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Bake in a hot oven (450 F.) for 20 to 25 minutes. For added crustiness have a large flat pan filled with boiling water on floor of oven during baking. Makes about 2 dozen rolls.


Kirk, Dorothy, ed. Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1953. Print.

American Brioche

Mar
17

This recipe is transcribed from one of my Grandmother’s old cook books, given to her by her mother. I’ve written it down here as a way to preserve it, and also because I strongly believe that some dishes are best in their simplest form. When learning to cook anything new, I like to begin with the traditional method before experimenting with my own take on things. All ingredients and instructions are as written in the original text.


Milk, 1 cup
Butter, or margarine, 1/2 cup
Sugar, 1/2 cup
Yeast, 2 packages
Water, warm, 1/4 cup
Enriched flour, sifted, about 5 cups
Eggs, beaten, 3
Egg yolks, beaten, 2
Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
Lemon extract, 1 teaspoon

Bring milk to a boil. Add butter and sugar; cool to lukewarm.

Sprinkle yeast over warm water. After 5 minutes, stir and combine with cooled milk mixture. Add 3 cups of the flour; beat until smooth.

Combine beaten eggs, egg yolks, salt and lemon extract; add to yeast mixture; beat 10 to 15 minutes by hand or 4 to 5 minutes with the electric mixer, using medium speed; add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Place dough in a warm greased bowl; brush surface with melted fat; cover and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85 F.) about 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Stir down, cover and chill in refrigerator overnight.

Turn out on board. Roll 1/4 inch thick into an oblong about 18 by 24 inches. Brush with melted butter or margarine. Fold lengthwise to make 3 layers; cut into 1-inch slices. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Twist ends of each piece. Place on greased baking sheet and shape each into a coil or figure 8, 3 or S. Brush with melted fat; cover and let rise again until doubled in bulk.

Bake in a moderate oven (375 F.) for 15 to 20 minutes.

Brush while still warm with confectioners’ frosting; sprinkle with chopped nuts if desired. Makes 20 to 24 brioches.


Kirk, Dorothy, ed. Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1953. Print.

Bill Wightman: A Life Remembered

Mar
11

When I found out my Grandfather, Bill Wightman, had passed away February 28 I was shocked. It wasn’t completely out of the blue; he was nearly 88 years old and had been battling pneumonia for the last few weeks. But anyone that knew him knew he had a lot of living left to do. To me he was a man of great dignity, integrity, and heart. It wasn’t until his passing that I realized how much he meant to so many people outside of our family. For a thorough recollection of his life I refer you to the obituary posted at Ainsworth Funeral Home here. For a more detailed look at the cause nearest to his heart in his later years, there is an excellent article from the Wellington Times available here.

I can’t think of a better way to memorialize him than through his own words. The following is from a letter he gave to me one Christmas, along with the book “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton.

Dearest Kirstyn,

Among other things, this book has been described as thought provoking. I am certain you will find “State of Fear” both thought provoking and a good story.

I hope to live many more years to proudly watch and encourage you. Even if I do not have much longer to go before I die, this book will help you to understand why I have often worked for causes which were unpopular in the minds of many people.

I do not like to see people coerced, therefore I have opposed the coercive aspect of compulsory unionism.

I do not believe politicians, no matter how well they are motivated, can make better decisions than those which individuals should be allowed to make for themselves, therefore I have opposed when it monopolizes such personal matters as health care and education.

I do not like those who use fear rather than fact as a means of motivating people to accept a point of view, therefore I have opposed what has become conventional wisdom whether it related to the “science” of eugenics or, more recently, global warming.

Shakespeare wrote wisely when he had Polonius say to his son, Laertes, “Above all, to thine own self be true, and it will follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man”. That advice, along with Victor Hugo’s story of redemption, “Les Miserables” and a poem by Leigh Hunt, title “Abou Ben Adhem”, have informed my thinking since I was twelve years old. The poem goes as follows:

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”

“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

Kirstyn, whatever you decide to do in life you will do it well. Just follow your heart thoughtfully. Not long after you were born your Grandmother, Chow Soon, looked at you and said to me, “There’s a baby who knows she is loved”! Wherever you go, whatever you do, I pray you will always know my love goes with you.

I love you Grandpa.

French Brioche

Mar
10

This recipe is transcribed from one of my Grandmother’s old cook books, given to her by her mother. I’ve written it down here as a way to preserve it, and also because I strongly believe that some dishes are best in their simplest form. When learning to cook anything new, I like to begin with the traditional method before experimenting with my own take on things. All ingredients and instructions are as written in the original text.


Milk, 1/4 cup
Butter, or margarine, 1 cup
Sugar, 1/2 cup
Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
Grated lemon rind, 1 1/2 teaspoons
Yeast, 2 packages
Water, warm, 1/4 cup
Eggs, beaten, 6
Enriched flour, sifted, 4 1/2 cups

Bring milk to a boil. Add melted butter, sugar, salt and lemon rind; cool to lukewarm.

Sprinkle yeast over warm water. After 5 minutes, stir and combine with cooled milk mixture. Add beaten eggs.

Add 3 cups of the flour; beat for 10 minutes by hand or 4 minutes using the electric mixer set for medium speed. Then add the remaining flour and beat until mixture is smooth.

Cover and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85 F.) about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Stir down, cover tightly and chill overnight in the refrigerator.

Take from refrigerator, form quickly into an equal number of large and small balls, making the large balls 1/3 to 1/2 the size of muffins pans, and the small balls about 1/2 the size of large balls. Place large balls in greased muffin pans; flatten down. Top each one with a small ball. Brush with diluted slightly beaten egg white. Let rise until doubled in bulk.

Bake in hot oven (400 F.) 12 to 15 minutes. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen brioches.


Kirk, Dorothy, ed. Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1953. Print.

Confectioners’ Frosting

Mar
03

This recipe is transcribed from one of my Grandmother’s old cook books, given to her by her mother. I’ve written it down here as a way to preserve it, and also because I strongly believe that some dishes are best in their simplest form. When learning to cook anything new, I like to begin with the traditional method before experimenting with my own take on things. All ingredients and instructions are as written in the original text.


Confectioners’ sugar, sifted, 2 cups
Hot water or milk, about 2 tablespoons
Vanilla or almond flavoring, 1 teaspoon

To confectioners’ sugar add hot water or milk gradually, until the frosting has a good spreading consistency; add flavoring.

Glossy Chocolate Frosting: Add 1 square (1 ounce) melted unsweetened chocolate to the frosting, or sift 3 tablespoons cocoa with the sugar.

Lemon Confectioners’ Frosting: Substitute lemon juice for 1 tablespoon of the water; add 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind.


Kirk, Dorothy, ed. Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1953. Print.

Baking Powder Biscuits

Feb
24

This recipe is transcribed from one of my Grandmother’s old cook books, given to her by her mother. I’ve written it down here as a way to preserve it, and also because I strongly believe that some dishes are best in their simplest form. When learning to cook anything new, I like to begin with the traditional method before experimenting with my own take on things. All ingredients and instructions are as written in the original text.


Flour, 2 cups
Baking powder, 3 teaspoons
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Shortening, 4 tablespoons
Milk, about 3/4 cup

Sift flour; measure; add baking powder and salt; sift again.

Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or two knives, blending it until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal.

Stirring in with fork, add enough milk to make soft dough, or until flour leaves sides of bowl and follows fork; continue stirring until all flour disappears.

Turn out on board; knead lightly for about 1/2 minute. Turn smooth side up and pat dough or roll 1/2 inch thick; cut with floured biscuit cutter.

Transfer biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet; place 1 inch apart if crusty biscuits are desired, or close together for softer biscuits with less crust.

Bake in a hot oven (425 F.) 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 14 to 16 2-inch biscuits.

Cheese Biscuits: Cut in 1 cup grated cheese with the shortening and proceed as directed. Or prepare plain biscuit dough, roll into balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place in small muffin pans; dot with butter and sprinkle with grated cheese; bake as directed.


Kirk, Dorothy, ed. Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1953. Print.

English Muffins

Feb
17

This recipe is transcribed from one of my Grandmother’s old cook books, given to her by her mother. I’ve written it down here as a way to preserve it, and also because I strongly believe that some dishes are best in their simplest form. When learning to cook anything new, I like to begin with the traditional method before experimenting with my own take on things. All ingredients and instructions are as written in the original text.


Milk, 1 cup
Shortening, 3 tablespoons
Salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons
Sugar, 3 tablespoons
Yeast, 1 package
Water, warm, 1/4 cup
Egg, beaten, 1
Enriched flour, sifted, 4 1/4 cups

Bring milk to a boil. Add shortening, salt, and sugar; cool to lukewarm.

Sprinkle yeast over warm water. After 5 minutes, stir and combine with cooled milk mixture; add the beaten egg and 2 cups of the flour; mix thoroughly.

Turn out on well-floured board; knead in remaining flour; continue kneading about 12 to 15 minutes or until firm and elastic.

Place dough in warm greased bowl; brush very lightly with melted fat; cover and let rise about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Turn out on board; roll 1/4 inch thick; cut with large cutter into 3-inch rounds; cover and let rise on board about 1/2 to 3/4 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Bake slowly on an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet. The heat should be so regulated that the muffins will brown slowly, allowing 7 to 8 minutes for each side. If baked in muffin rings the browning will be more even, but very satisfactory muffins can be baked without use of rings. Makes about 1 dozen 4-inch muffins.


Kirk, Dorothy, ed. Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1953. Print.

Deviled Eggs

Feb
10

This recipe is transcribed from one of my Grandmother’s old cook books, given to her by her mother. I’ve written it down here as a way to preserve it, and also because I strongly believe that some dishes are best in their simplest form. When learning to cook anything new, I like to begin with the traditional method before experimenting with my own take on things. All ingredients and instructions are as written in the original text.


Eggs, hard-cooked, 6
Vinegar or pickle juice, 1 teaspoon
Dry mustard, 1/4 teaspoon
Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon
Mayonnaise, about 4 tablespoons

Carefully cut eggs into halves lengthwise and remove yolks.

Mash yolks or force through a sieve. Add vinegar, seasonings and enough mayonnaise to moisten.

Pile yolk mixture in the halves of egg white; sprinkle with paprika.


Kirk, Dorothy, ed. Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1953. Print.