You know you’re bored when …
You know you’re bored when you read recipe books for pleasure.
I enjoy eating a hearty meal of Jiggs’ Dinner. Having said this, I realize this delicacy means different things to different people.
In many places, it typically consists of salt beef (or riblets), boiled potatoes, carrots, cabbage, turnip, turnip greens (in season), bread pudding, dressing, pease pudding, and a cooked turkey, chicken or beef roast. Condiments include mustard pickles and bottled beets (preferably homemade), cranberry sauce and butter.
That, to me, is not Jiggs’ Dinner, but merely a typical Sunday dinner.
My Jiggs’ Dinner is made up of salt beef, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, turnip, parsnip, pease pudding, turnip greens and, sometimes, brussels sprouts. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Though a diabetic, I occasionally “mang” together this ambrosial delight.
Recently my brother told me about one time in particular when he cooked pease pudding with his Jiggs’ Dinner. He used the traditional pudding bag and, for some strange reason, two packages of split peas, when three quarters of a cup would have sufficed. Which is why it is not at all surprising that, at some point, his boiler of vegetables exploded with a “snap, crackle and pop” as the peas expanded beyond the ability of the bag to hold them. The pot cover was the only thing holding back the pease pudding from repainting the kitchen ceiling a dull yellow.
I thought my brother, who is my senior, would have known better.
My thoughts about Jiggs’ Dinner and pease pudding percolated while reading a delightful little book, “Camp and Cottage Cookbook,” written by Tonya Hughes.
According to the publisher’s blurb, “This book contains the essential information you will need to provide your family and friends with the fun, tasty and easy-to-make meals they know and love while enjoying their home away from home.
“In addition to many quick and easy recipes that cover all the food groups and every meal of your day, this handy campground and cottage cooking guide includes step-by-step instructions on how to make delicious foods that are nutritionally sound; tips on how to preserve your meats; advice on maximizing your cooler space; and lists of the best tools to bring on your trip.”
My interest was piqued as soon as I came to the chapter entitled “Super Simmered Suppers,” which includes “hot and hearty stews, chilies, curries and soups (which) make for a fantastic complete meal, usually in just one pot.” For example, there’s vegetarian curry, stout stew with herb dumplings, rich and creamy sirloin curry, and clam chowder.
But the section which got my undi- vided attention were Hughes’ two pages of reflections on Jiggs’ Dinner with pease pudding. I was in culinary heaven.
“Okay,” she says, “so this will take much more than an hour to prepare, but I have to pay homage to my homeland. A ‘boil-up’ in the country is a traditional Newfoundland experience. For me it was, and still is, a Labour Day tradition. The meal always consists of Jiggs’ Dinner with pease pudding, tea and an assortment of squares and cookies carted from home.”
One “special piece of equipment” — a pudding bag — “is needed for the pudding … It is essentially a tightly woven cotton bag with a drawstring.”
Actually, the more creative cook “can make one up in a pinch by placing the peas in the middle of a clean square white dishcloth or tea towel, bundling it up loosely, and tying it closed with a bit of string.”
Hughes intentionally chooses the word “loosely.” Her reason? “To ensure the pudding doesn’t squeeze out through the fabric and there is sufficient room in the bundle to allow for the expansion of the peas as they cook.”
At this point, you may wish to reread my brother’s cautionary tale related earlier in the present column.
The author then gives the actual recipe, which includes the following ingredients: salt beef, dry split peas, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, turnip, turnip greens and cabbage.
Now, there’s my version of Jiggs’ Dinner.
For those readers who prefer a wider variety of dishes, Hughes devotes individual chapters to breakfast, pasta as your friend, frying-pan dinners, dinners to impress your neighbours, frying- pan breads, desserts and hot drinks. There are even chapters on the philosophy of camp food, equipment and food safety.
The “Camp and Cottage Cookbook” is published by Flanker of St. John’s.
Burton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His column appears in The Compass every week.
He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org