Monday, January 30, 2012

Bittersweet Butter Tarts

..and by 'bittersweet', I don't mean the taste of the tarts, but the spirit of the occasion. My great aunt Pat passed away this weekend at the ripe old age of 90. She was able to make it out to my house just this past Christmas and was able to bake about three dozen butter tarts for the occassion. Not bad for a 90 year old! Her butter tarts were the best, and sadly, she has taken the recipe with her. I was able to coax a bit of info from her at Christmas, enough to know that her pastry was 100% lard with no butter and hand made. I will have to start trying to replicate the recipe. It's bittersweet in the sense, that I was able to host her at my house for the last few big holiday dinners and allow her a much deserved break, given that over the last 60 years or so, she had been doing the cooking. While she was alive, I kept meaning to have her walk me through the butter tart recipe, but I never got the chance. Sigh.

Butter tarts are very important to me, given that they are one of the few wholy indigenous dishes of Ontario. The first recipe appeared over 100 years ago in Barrie, however, it has been assumed that this tasty little confection has been around much longer, harking back to early pioneer days. Anyway, I won't go on too much into the history of it, but it is something I would like to explore - the kind of country cooking that is native to the Southern Ontario for which I try to celebrate everyday. Just as I will celebrate the life of my great aunt, who was a great cook and a great baker (and incidently, a model and a runner-up to Miss Toronto 1940). She will be missed by many.

Patricia Hewer, 1921 - 2012.

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