It is customary to think of early settlers struggling to make it through the winter but it was even harder to make it through the early spring season. Even for us today, and for people in Berlin in 1912 long past the settler period, this month of March would be a challenge.
Anyone else dreaming of fresh asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries or even dandelion greens? It is still too early for those fresh tastes and yet we start to get tired of winter food when the sun shines like it is today. Imagine worrying about whether your winter stored vegetables were starting to soften or even sprout or go bad as the weather warms. Mrs. Aug. May’s recipe for Cabbage Salad in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book takes care of one stored cabbage — so long as it is still firm.
I used a small saucepan to make the dressing. First I put the white vinegar on to boil and then I mixed the 2 medium eggs, white granulated sugar and dry mustard powder in a bowl thoroughly and then fearfully added them to the hot vinegar stirring constantly. I worried I’d end up with cooked egg bits but it mixed smoothly. I let it boil and meanwhile I chopped the cabbage as finely as I could manage with a knife and cutting board and a slightly wilted cabbage. I let the dressing cool for a while and then added some to my cabbage.
The cup pudding recipe on day 5 (January 5) was submitted by Mrs. May. I have since found out a bit more about Hannah nee Hertel and August May. In 1901, both were 37 years old and have two boys and two girls age 6 to 12. August had emigrated from Germany in 1871 when he was about 8 years old and by this census he’s a mason. Not surprisingly the family’s religion is listed as Lutheran. They have disappeared from the area by the 1911 census and I can’t find any of them anywhere in Canada in that census. I looked for them in the 1891 census and they appear to be living in the same spot with the two oldest children. Mr. May is listed as Augustus and working as a mason. Several neighbouring families share their surname.
The dressing is interesting. I taste the egg a little more than I’d like but it has a good balance of sweet and sour with a little hit of the mustard. It reminds me of something and I can’t think of why the taste seems familiar. It is not like any commercial dressing or even packaged coleslaw. The dressing goes well with cabbage. I’ve decided that the flavour is reminiscent of my mother’s devilled eggs!
1 head of fine chopped cabbage, season with salt.
2 beaten eggs, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon mustard, stir this into 1 cup of boiling vinegar, boil until thick; when cold pour over cabbage.