A Book Review of Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip by Lindsay Anderson & Dana Vanveller
Feast is a culinary adventure that follows the 150 day, 3 season Canadian road trip of Lindsay Anderson and Dana Vanveller. They piled into their little car and embarked on a journey through 10 provinces and 3 territories. Their goal was to discover a Canadian cuisine that went beyond the traditional fare of poutine and Nanaimo bars. The pages of this cookbook are full of recipes embedded in a narrative of discovery. The cookbook covers a range of recipes as vast as the country- starting with breakfast delights from across the country and ending with a whole section on mason jars- preserves, pickles and sauces. The recipes feature ingredients that are in season and native to regions across the country from plants to vegetables, and seafood to cuts of meat. Some of the recipes that I am looking forward to trying are the Red Fife Crepes (p. 12); the Crispy Trout Rice Bowls (p. 130); and the Roasted Tomato and Fig Ketchup (p. 264).
In the dessert section, you won’t be disappointed (I sure wasn’t!), the traditional favourites are there- Nanaimo Bars (p. 197) and Lunar Rhubarb Cake (p. 194). For these recipes, Lindsay and Dana went on a journey of discovery. The recipe that they have included in Feast is a simple one that takes just one afternoon to make and is even gluten free! For the Lunar Rhubarb Cake recipe, they went straight to the source, Canadian Living icon, Elizabeth Baird. The recipe, for one of my favourite cakes to make (which works really well with frozen rhubarb, if you managed to put any away this summer!).
You can find Elizabeth Baird’s Rhubarb Lunar Cake recipe online (I’ll include a link below, just in case you need a taste of summer sometime this January or February) – but it should definitely not stop you from buying this cookbook. So many of the recipes in this book are unique and I look forward to embarking on a culinary adventure of my own, traveling across Canada virtually through the pages of Feast. The stories and recipes that are woven throughout the book create a tapestry of tastes that are sure to redefine Canadian cuisine. Next time you have to bring a Canadian dish to an international potluck, with the help of this book you will have a smorgasbord of choices!
Review by Bethany Osborne from The Mustard Seed’s Education Team
Rhubarb Lunar Cake
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups chopped rhubarb
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
- Put the rhubarb into a bowl – Elizabeth says if it’s frozen, to thaw and drain it, but I used frozen and kept it frozen – and sprinkle over a spoonful of the flour, shaking to coat the rhubarb. Put the rest of the flour into a small bowl or measuring cup and stir in the baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two.
- Spread the batter into a parchment-lined 9×13-inch baking pan and sprinkle with the rhubarb. Press the rhubarb down with the back of your spatula to help it sink in a bit. (I did this because I missed the stirring it into the batter part – you could do that instead, if you like.)
- In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and butter with a fork and/or your fingers, and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the cake. Bake for 45 minutes, or until deep golden and the cakey parts are springy to the touch. Elizabeth says a toothpick inserted into the centre will come out clean, but I think that’s debatable depending on where the sunken bits are – if you test this way, go for a spot near the middle that’s clear of rhubarb, because the finished cake is particularly dense and sticky.
- Let cool or serve warm, with vanilla ice cream. Serves 10.