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Prince Edward County restaurateur Natalie Wollenberg was inspired to write a cookbook after volunteering at an annual fundraiser for Food to Share, a charity in Prince Edward County that helps to feed local families who struggle to put food on their tables.
“Even in a place where farm produce is so accessible and abundant, there are people in our community who experience food insecurity as part of their daily lives,” Wollenberg says. “I was struck by that disconnect, but I was also inspired by the army of volunteers from the County’s food sector who showed up to help. So I decided to ask all my friends – restaurant and pub owners, farmers, beekeepers and people in maple sugaring – to share the recipe for their favourite dish.”
A year later, County Heirlooms: Recipes and Reflections from Prince Edward County was finished, and Wollenberg has committed all royalties from sales of the book to Food to Share, which twice a week makes 120 meals destined for local food banks.
“It’s been a whirlwind, and a lot of work, but so incredibly rewarding,” says Wollenberg, who collaborated on the 42-recipe cookbook with not-for-profit publisher Leigh Nash. Wollenberg did all the photography and interviews, and Nash assembled it.
“I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity to know the stories of the people who breathe life into the flourishing food community in the County,” Wollenberg says. “So I asked, ‘Where do you come from? How did you arrive in the County? Why do you stay?‘ ” Wollenberg is a native Australian who moved to the County several years ago. She and her husband, Drew, own the popular County Canteen and the microbrewery 555 Brewing Co.
“We’re a tight-knit group here and every single contributor has a little bit of their heart in these recipes, which might remind them of home, or of a dish their grandmother used to make. It’s just very wholesome, honest cooking from people who come from all walks of life – which is always the best.”
Jennifer McCaw, Hagerman Farms
Makes about 24 large biscuits
- 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups white sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- ⅓ cup baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups vegetable shortening
- 3-4 cups fresh buttermilk
- 1 cup fresh blueberries (washed and dried)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon table cream
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Use a pastry cutter to blend vegetable shortening into dry ingredients, until you have pea-sized pieces.
Make a large well in the centre of blended ingredients. Add blueberries and 3 cups buttermilk.
Use a bench scraper to mix until you have a roughly formed dough ball. If it falls apart, add buttermilk a small amount at a time, being careful not to overmix.
Flour surface and roll dough ball out of bowl. Roll to roughly 1 to 1 1/2-inch thick and cut with round cookie cutter (or glass).
Line shortcakes on parchment-covered baking sheet. Combine egg yolk and table cream for egg wash. Brush shortcakes with egg wash and sprinkle generously with extra sugar.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Enjoy with whipped cream and local seasonal berries or toasted with vanilla ice cream.
Excerpted from County Heirlooms: Recipes and Reflections from Prince Edward County by Natalie Wollenberg and Leigh Nash © 2020 Reproduced by permission of Invisible Publishing. All rights reserved. Recipe copyright Jennifer McCaw.