here and there

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Harvest and Canadian Thanksgiving going hand in hand! Celebrate with a Manitoba Cake


Uncle Fred's farm




Fall as a kid was one of my favorite season.  New clothes for school, some sewn, other bought.  The weather was sunny and warm, but crisp; a perfect time to wear one's brand new sweaters.  Fall colors were in their splendour!  

Harvest was in full gear, as combines could be seen late into the night, until heavy dew fall.  The garden had been harvested, green tomatoes covered in a box in a dark cool spot to ripen slowly, potatoes dug and canning or freezing of vegetables completed.  There is something so magical in this season, even the Harvest moon shines brightly to extend the workday past sunset to help the farmer harvest their crops.




Canadian Thanksgiving fits perfectly into this Harvest season as one takes time to be thankful for one's bountiful crop or life's riches.  It was a time to feast on the fruit of one's toils, with potatoes and vegetables from one's garden, along with a farm grown turkey.  

The Pilgrim's menu had readily been adapted from the Americans due to the Loyalists flee to Canada during the American Revolution.  This feast and traditions of Thanksgiving revolved around what one had readily available.  The turkey and all it's trimmings ending with a pumpkin pie may be seen by some as a ridge tradition.  Yet any menu that stays away from this does not truly understand what the menu means and the value of tradition.

The more sophisticated our palate become to the exposure of other foods in this Global world, the more necessary is the need for the comfort of tradition along with the connectedness to the community through food!

I read with great interest the food articles in the Globe and Mail Friday edition before the Thanksgiving weekend.  One article by Dave McGinn referenced the feast as  kicking off the "Unofficial waistline-be-dammed season of gluttonous indulgences".   Another article  by Laurie Best talked about Thanksgiving dinner being a "feast of burden".   The Globe and Mail did "assemble a menu" that stood out "for it's unconventionality - fish instead of turkey!'  These articles certainly made me want to throw in the towel and munch on a celery stick!   But my husband insisted I pick up a small turkey and planned a menu that his Mom had prepared for Thanksgiving Days.

In the weekend edition of the Globe and Mail, John Allemang in his article "Choosing between tradition and evolution talked about making this feast less rigid and updating the "feast to suit Canada's more flexible approach to diversity".  John looked at a family who added a Chinese twist  to the Classic Thanksgiving dinner, by marinating the whole turkey in soya sauce.   My initial thought was how different was this for me growing in rural Manitoba  and my mom's Thanksgiving dinners .  My Mom served turkey with stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and carrots, with a Ukrainian twist to the menu, pyrohy, cabbage rolls and Nalynyky.  To finish this feast, there were always pies, pumpkin and lemon meringue pies.  All these dishes were made from local ingredients from one's garden or farm.

I agree with Elizabeth Baird who writes in her "Classic Canadian Cooking"book that there are few meals that appeal or "resonate with a broad community in Canada".  Thanksgiving dinner with turkey is one such meal and families do and had personalized the feast to meet personal taste or dietary restrictions. 


Alnaar follows her Mother in Law's Thanksgiving Dinner's menu recipes

I  enjoyed the pictures posted on Facebook of Thanksgiving feasts, the turkey was certainly the star and in one picture the turkey was referred to as the "pièce de résistance".  These awesome pictures taken of the turkeys are those of two young moms', one being a first generation Canadian.  


Donna's work of art, a "pièce de résistance" 

Thanksgiving weekend is also a time for families.






An advertisement in the Calgary Herald summed up the beauty of a Canadian Thanksgiving!

When does time last longer?
These days, life seems to be lived at one speed, fast.  We never seem to have enough time and days disappear so quickly, it's hard to set our bearings.  Thanksgiving is a change of pace. 
For a few hours over dinner, time goes slowly as we settle in with those who matter most to us. 
Conversation are animated as they evolve around family memories and old stories that have been told a hundred times before but still end with laughter. 
We use time wisely debating earth -shattering events like who gets to pull the turkey wish bone this year. 
At Thanksgiving we get to simply enjoy being surrounded by family, at home, where time last longer and vivid memories are created that will last a lifetime.





Golden Warmth of Fall




Saskatoon Farm 




Setting the table


Acorn Squash readied for the Smoker

Fresh Greek Oregano and Sage from the garden for the stuffing

Garlic harvest


Bill following his mom's recipe for making turkey gravy

Very moist turkey cooked in a turkey roaster oven 

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner
What better way to celebrate Harvest along with my Husband and son's birthday than to feature the Manitoba Cake. 



 Into the batter is mixed 1 cup of raw grated beets and 2 cups of raw carrots



to give this gorgeous color that makes one think of autumn.  



This Manitoba cake was to be in my Harvest blog and a birthday cake too, however since my husband wanted a chocolate cake, I did add 1/3 c of coca to the flour mixture!  Some times a gal has to do, what she has to do!



The Manitoba Cake recipe can be found in the Mennonite Treasury of Recipes Cookbook and a popular cake in the rural areas.





Manitoba Cake 

Preheat oven at 350°F.
Prepared a Bundt pan
Mix together
3/4 cup sunflower oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons hot water
In another bowl, pass through a sieve the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon powder.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (opt)

Mix together the dry and wet ingredients 
2 cups raw carrots, finely shredded
1cup raw beet, finely shredded 
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Add the raw carrots, the raw beets and the nuts and mix well.

With the electric mixer, whip the 3 egg whites until they are fluffy
3 egg whites

Fold gently into the cake preparation until the whites are incorporated 

Pour into the prepared Bundt pan

Bake 45 to 50 minutes. 


Use Cream Cheese frosting or just dust with a bit of icing sugar


  • 1 8 oz (250g) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
  • 1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar


The Canadian Harvest is the sixth theme for the great Canadian Food Experience Project as bloggers across Canada explore and discover the Canadian voice.
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