A Vintage Butter Tart Recipe

It is raining this Labour Day, so what better to do than bake up a batch of what I consider to be the best butter tarts? Apparently there is some debate as to whether butter tart fillings are better with nuts rather than raisins, syrupy rather than firm. I prefer them with raisins and a firm filling, and the following recipe is the one I return to every time. It is from my mother’s old Purity Flour cookbook from the 1940’s. Butter tarts-1


2 eggs

2 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons vinegar (I use cider vinegar)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cups raisins (I use Thompson raisins)

Pastry (I use Glutino pastry mix)

Beat eggs only until whites and yolks are well blended. Beat in sugar and add vinegar and vanilla. Stir in the  melted butter and raisins.

Line tart tins with pastry and fill  1/2 to 2/3 full with butter mixture. Bake in hot (425 degree F) oven for the first 5 minutes, then reduce temperature to a moderate (350 degree F) and bake for 20 -25 minutes, or until filling is firm. Place tins on cooling rack.This recipe makes 24 small tarts or 12  2″-sized tarts.

Every time I bake a batch of these I remember back to the first summer of my  marriage. I had baked 4 dozen tarts in preparation for a family reunion the following day. After they were cooled and removed from the tins, I put them away and left home to go to my job. After my shift, I returned home to find DH and his friend sitting at the kitchen table happily munching their way through all four dozen tarts! Well, if that isn’t testimony to how good these are, I don’t know what is.

What ever you are doing this Labour Day, I hope it is something you love to do. Enjoy.



Shabby by Design, or Accident?

The porch off our kitchen has evolved into a shabby enclave. Years ago I gave up fighting the rain, heat or humidity that made exterior painting such an unrewarding, futile exercise and just let the paint crack and peel into its  current shabby appearance.

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I have propped up an assortment of old doors and shutters to create a sense of privacy and protection from chilly north and east breezes. Seating is provided by wicker chairs whose seats are slipcovered with fabric purchased many years ago on one of our road trips. (I loved the pattern and colours so much that I bought the entire 50 metre bolt.)

The buoys on this part of the wall were collected over the years, souvenirs from various trips to the coast. There is a fishing shack by the harbour outside Orleans, Cape Cod that had a wall covered with buoys and  it was the inspiration for this display. porch-3

The bird house was home to a wren family this summer and has been shelter to sparrows during the winter.

This shabby  oasis is my favourite place in the spring,  summer and early autumn for enjoying morning coffee, or afternoon tea, for reading,  watching birds, listening to frogs, crickets and trickling water from a nearby water fountain.




This Thanksgiving weekend as I rock away on our porch I have made up a list of things that need to be done before winter arrives. Storing the wicker furniture in the cellar, bringing the geraniums into the house, draining water from the fountain and taking it apart, storing the doors and shutters in the barn all need to be done – but just not yet!

Happy Thanksgiving!






Labour Day

A few weeks ago as I was driving home, I encountered road construction and was signalled to stop to allow oncoming traffic to pass. It was one of those all too frequent sweltering days that we’ve suffered with this summer. As I waited for my turn to drive on, I thought about the people who were working on the road and having to do their job under the blistering sun and enduring the horrid asphalt smells.  I couldn’t help but think how glad I was that it wasn’t my job.

On reflection, there are so many jobs that are quite demanding and dangerous that I couldn’t do and wouldn’t want to do. But I, for one, am glad that there are people willing to do them. On this Labour Day it is worth a moment to thank all of them for making lives better and easier for us: fire-fighters, road crews, letter carriers, high-rise window washers, steel workers, miners, farm workers and … the list is long.




Just Peachy

Our Civic holiday weekend began with an hour long drive through fog to  the airport so that our week long house guest could catch his 6:00 a.m. flight back home. After dropping him off at the departures entry, we decided to take a different route home, stopping along the way for coffee, and a visit to a farmers market where we purchased two baskets of Niagara peaches. August is the peak season for this delicious, juicy, fuzz-skinned fruit here in the Niagara Peninsula, and we can’t seem to get enough of them.

There are so many ways to use peaches: pies, muffins, cakes, smoothies, salads, and ice-cream.  They can be  preserved them for winter enjoyment by canning, freezing, making chutneys and jams. However, I think  the best way of all is to eat peaches raw, when they are in season locally.

Since it was a holiday weekend, we treated ourselves to waffles for breakfast on Sunday, and what better way to serve them than with sliced fresh peaches. To prepare the fruit, I just wash it and slice into the stone. Since these peaches are a freestone variety, the stone comes out easily.  As an aside, is there anyone else who thinks that peaches aren’t as fuzzy as they used to be? I seem to recall that when I was a child the peach fuzz was thicker and scratchier.




A drizzle of maple syrup (the “real stuff, the stuff that comes from trees” as our GS once told us),  added the finishing touch.


Canada Day 2018

Happy Canada Day (July 1st) to everyone, whether Canadian or not.

The weather here is promising to be extremely hot and humid – a good day to get outdoor chores done early and head inside before the sun gets high in the sky.

The hiatus I took from writing this blog lasted much longer than intended, so now I have tons of catching up to do. It won’t be in any particular order.

Canada belongs to the British Commonwealth and  Queen Elizabeth is our head of state. Therefore, the wedding of her grandson, Prince Harry to Megan Markle was an occasion to celebrate. Having watched every one of the televised royal weddings in my lifetime, beginning with Princess Margaret’s to Anthony Armstrong Jones, I soberly realized that this one could be the last on television for many years.

Television coverage began  locally at 4:00 a.m. which meant rising early. A few days before, I planned an “afternoon tea” to celebrate  the wedding. For some strange reason, anyone I invited to join us at 4:00 in the morning declined. Alas it would be tea for DH (my dear husband) and me.


Our lilacs were at their best and very abundant this year and I didn’t mind cutting a few branches to decorate the living room. China teacups and tea service were set on the tea trolley.PrinceHarry_and_Megan-1


Egg salad sandwiches, fresh baked scones, lemon curd  and strawberry meringues with whipped cream made up the menu. PrinceHarry_and_Megan-2

Fashion for watching the wedding on television: I wore coral coloured satin pyjamas,  and for fun, (since it was required of the wedding guests), a hat; DH was dressed in lounge pants and oversized tee- shirt. What a fashionable couple we were!



When the lovely ceremony finished, we toasted the couple with champagne and enjoyed our tea.