Preparing Western Canadians for Cooking in 1905

I recently discovered an old classic Canadian cookbook called Blue Ribbon Cookbook for Everyday Use In Canadian Homes from the year 1905. The Blue Ribbon Manufacturing Company was located in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

This was more than a cookbook. In addition to recipes, readers were taught proper table setting and etiquette; how various categories of food are broken down in our body, dealing with cooking and baking mistakes, and how to clean up after cooking.

The cookbook was designed to “be of assistance to the women of Canada” because “we would all enjoy better health and be better able to withstand sickness if more attention were paid to the proper selection and preparation of food.”

Despite being targeted at women, there is a section for men entitled “Bachelor and Camp Cookery.”

If you are curious how people were taught to cook underground, broil the traditional way over an open fire (not to be confused with barbecues), can meat, curry mutton, and stew oxtail, you can find this cookbook for free, archived on various government websites.

I’ve chosen to share a recipe that is stated as not being nutritious for those who are ill, but somehow makes people feel better. I have had Beef Tea, which is not the same as beef broth, and agree with the authors of the cookbook and others: this beverage certainly has the ability to make a person feel better when you haven’t been able to handle solid food for days at a time.

Here is the Blue Ribbon’s version of this recipe.

Beef Tea
Use half-pound of round steak cut fine, soak it in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes, let it heat in double boiler, strain, salt, and serve.

If you’d like a more modern method for making Beef Tea, you can find one on

Yovella is a former resident of McCauley who still works and volunteers in the area.

More in this issue

Vista Housing
Janis Irwin MLA

Neighbourhood Views

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