Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Tourtière: A kind of meat pie traditionally eaten at Christmas in Canada.

This definition is the simple one, truth is recipes for this traditional French Canadian meat pie abound on the internet today, but this dish goes back centuries to the earliest years of French settlement in North America.

Though I don't often bake, I wanted to make tourtière––to sit in my own kitchen and taste what the characters in The Last Lord of Paradise tasted, so I eschewed the internet recipes with frozen pie crust from Kroger in favor of the recipe I found in a great book purchased at Fort Michilimackinac near Mackinaw City, Michigan. (See my post called, My Favorite Place for Michigan History).

It was called History from the Hearth: A Colonial Michilimackinac Cookbook  by Sally Eustice. One of the Fort's historic interpreters, Sally covers not only what the early Michigan French ate, but how it was cooked, the pots, pans, utensils and dishes they used, as well as the problems of cooking in an open hearth. I spied her recipe for Tourtière, it seemed simple enough––Brown some lean ground pork, add onion, and seasonings, put it in your pie shell, place the top crust over it. I gathered my ingredients, mixed them together and into the oven it went. 

While it baked at 350 for an hour, I checked out tourtière on Google. Apparently the recipe I used is the Montreal Tourtière. There is also the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Tourtière from eastern Quebec, that uses finally chopped pork and potatoes. 

My tourtière was supposed to look like the photo above. Instead it looked like this:

My pie plate was too deep for the amount of dough in the recipe and I stretched it too thin. Perhaps I baked it a bit too long and the crust went too crispy ... Oh well.  My genuine French Canadian tourtière wasn't a total failure. The plain pork and crust took on all the flavors of the onion and spices and it tasted great. The old French were great cooks.  

Will try again sometime. :)


Saturday, November 10, 2012


Fed by Niagara Falls, last of the Great Lakes chain, Lake Ontario carries all the waters of the Great Lakes 193 miles east into the St. Lawrence River. More than seven hundred miles later, all that water ends up in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Smallest of the Lakes, the name Ontarío means “Lake of Shining Waters” in the Huron language. The Canadian Province took it's name from this Lake and over nine million people live along the Canadian shore––almost a quarter of Canada's population. The US shoreline is more rural, except for the city of Rochester, New York.

The first European to explore Lake Ontario was Étienne Brûlé  (another Frenchman with an interesting life if you care to click on his name), though there are claims of Norse artifacts found in the area of Sodus Bay in New York.

When I googled Lake Ontario to research this post, four of the first eleven hits were about fishing. Apparently Lake Ontario was once a prime source of Atlantic Salmon but was fished out by 1900. Now it is well stocked with Chinook "King" Salmon, Coho and Atlantic Salmon, along with other species of fish every year.  Photo Gallery   

I cannot write any piece about Lake Ontario without a mention of the Thousand Islands. And yes that's where the salad dressing got it's name. This archipelago of over 1800 islands begins at the eastern end of Lake Ontario and extends into the St. Lawrence River. These islands of all shapes and sizes brought the wealthiest of New Yorkers and Canadians to build everything from the tiny cottage to castles on their shores. There are so many islands that ships hire local maritime pilots to guide them through the rocks and shoals. 

Aerial view of w:Boldt Castle and some of the w:Thousand Islands in the w:Saint Lawrence River by Teresa Mitchell

From Duluth, Minnesota to Watertown, New York, my series on the Great Lakes has taken us past eight US states and the Province of Ontario.  Hope you all enjoyed it. Your comments are always appreciated.

Vivian :)