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Before there were web engines, names like Jehane Benoit and Kate Aitken and titles like The Purity Cookbook and Looneyspoons taught generations of Canadians how to feed their families and themselves, with recipes that were coveted and became family traditions. The Globe asked food writers, recipe developers and cookbook authors for some of their treasured finds from the last century of Canadian cookbooks.

Naz Deravian

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Food writer, author of Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories

Her pick: Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip, by Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller

“The cross-country Canadian food/road trip has, sadly, always eluded me. Since travelling back home – I live in Los Angeles – is not currently possible, I like to turn to Feast for a taste and comfort of home. From the Yukon sourdough cinnamon buns, maple molasses-braised pork belly, Sri Lankan curried shrimp, and all the stories in between, we can all momentarily pretend we’re piling in a car and join the enthusiastic authors on a distinctly Canadian food adventure.”

Lesley Chesterman

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Former Montreal Gazette food critic, food writer, broadcaster

Her pick: Made in Quebec, by Julian Armstrong

“I recently pulled out this book by the former food editor of the Montreal Gazette in search of a recipe for sugar pie. After I found that – it’s a winner – I flipped through this book over and over again, marvelling at the diverse recipes from the ingredient- and tradition-rich province of Quebec. What’s great about this book is that Julian Armstrong has done her research. Travelling from Abitibi to Gaspésie for decades, she has tracked down authentic recipes from chefs to pure laine Quebeckers to recent immigrants, giving readers a well-rounded overview of culinary diversity of the province.”

Jennifer E. Crawford

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Winner of MasterChef Canada 2019, food writer

Their pick: Kraft Country Farm: Cheese Recipe Book, by Cecile Girard-Hicks

“I’ve had this little booklet that came with the purchase of three Kraft Products since I was 10 years old! I even brought it with me to MasterChef for good luck. Free little pamphlets are treasures and deserve so much credit for nurturing home cooks. This one taught me to master my first-ever cheesecakes, blintzes, crepes, carrot cakes, cream cheese icing, omelettes and more. Even the most ambitious of recipes are max 100 words. Because of how my brain works, I’ve never been great at following wordy recipes; the economy of language in these pamphlets make any level of cook feel emboldened as heck.”

Joshna Maharaj

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Chef, activist, author of Take Back the Tray: Revolutionizing food in hospitals, schools, and other institutions

Her pick: Rebar Modern Food Cookbook, by Audrey Alsterberg and Wanda Urbanowicz

“I got a copy of their cookbook in my very early days as a cook, and it quickly became a roadmap, showing me how to cook food that was wholesome, had big flavour, and made vegetables the star of the show. These recipes are also smart, with useful tips and techniques that make the final version more polished. Pulsing dried apricots along with the flour in the chocolate chip cookies creates a perfect chewiness that doesn’t have to come from sugar … smart! I am an avid cookbook collector, and this book is easily the one with the most stained pages in my whole collection.”

Ethné et Philippe de Vienne

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Owners of Épices de Cru/Spice Trekkers, authors of The Golden Rule of Spices; The Spice Trekkers cook at home

Their pick: La Cuisine Raisonée, Congrégation de Notre-Dame

“Way before Jehane Benoit, this 1919 book was the definitive culinary reference in Quebec homes. Growing up in Montreal, it seems every household had a stain-covered copy somewhere in the kitchen. Written in an engaging, home-economics style, there are gems to be found among the hundreds of recipes, such as the huge Easter pie containing two hams, one turkey, two chickens, two hares, two pigeons and two partridges; all generously smothered in slices of salt pork, onions and unspecified ‘fine spices.’ A classic that has defined Quebec cookery.”

Elizabeth Baird

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Recipe developer, cookbook author

Her pick: Traditional Ukrainian Cookery, Savella Stechishin

“I never met Savella in person, but I got to know and admire her from the pages of her cookbook, Traditional Ukrainian Cookery. First published in 1957 by Trident Press Ltd. in Winnipeg, this book is a complete package of Ukrainian cooking. There are stories about the community, harvesting customs, how to make soup with a hatchet, but what stands out in this book is the steady voice of Stechishin, her notes about ingredients and the clarity of the steps that lead to success with the recipes. She wrote in her introduction that the book “has been compiled for the benefit of the Canadian-born Ukrainians.” Yes, it is a handbook for preserving Ukrainian culinary heritage … but also a book for curious cooks everywhere.”

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