Monday, August 19, 2013

Nova Scotia Hodge Podge

Covering for Jane while she was on vacation left me little time for spontaneous and creative expression so last Friday, in the search for inspiration for this week's  Field Notes column, I spent some time going through the PDF of an old blog of mine that I started when I first moved here in 2007. In the midst of the August scribblings, I found a post that mentioned "Nova Scotia Hodge Podge". I wanted to know what it was and my friend Lisa from Lower Sackville wrote to tell me that it's all about the new potatoes, and the rest of the vegetables that are finally ready to harvest.
Thinking that it would be a neat topic for my column, I decided I would make, for the first time, Nova Scotia Hodge Podge.
One piece of advice American author Richard Ford gives writers to "marry someone love and who thinks you being a writer is a good idea." I got that right, at least, because out to the garden went my husband to fetch in the ingredients. He would have done all the cleaning and chopping if I hadn't insisted it's my column therefore my experience.
Piling the vegetables up in the sink was pretty much the most interesting part of this exercise. Otherwise, it was just like making soup. 

Basically, if you didn't grow up eating it as part of along family tradition of eating it, it's not that exciting. Made with cream and butter, it's just a vegetable chowder! Delicious, mind you, but for an Ontario-raised transplant to the east coast, if I'm going to eat that much cream and butter, I want seafood swimming in it. My new, freshly-picked vegetables should taste as pure as possible (they don't even need butter when they go from garden to table in under an hour, do they?).

I used summer turnip, green beans, carrots, onion and potatoes, blend cream, butter (too much, as it turned out) and S&P to taste. All this based on the recipe sent to me by Lisa, and it's the one her mother and her grandmother used.
"No measurements," Lisa wrote, "just make as much or as little as you want, and taste along the way. My Nanny always said if you're going to make Hodge Podge, use real butter and use Farmers Blend. Make it like you're making chowder and make it a day early so the flavours distribute."

My measurements came out like this:
1 onion, chopped
1 cup snapped green beans + 1 cup of snapped yellow beans (which we didn't plant this year)
(peas can be added if you have those)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup diced turnip
2 cups new potatoes, diced
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper

Here's Lisa's recipe:
Melt butter and add chopped onion. Cook on medium-low heat until onions are soft. Add some water. Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add rest of veggies. Add enough water to just cover the veggies (not too much because you won't be draining it). Once veggies are cooked (not too soft), add butter ("My Nanny used lots!"), Blend and salt/pepper to taste. Simmer on low.

Too much butter! Sorry, Nanny.

This Nova Scotia country boy is not complaining!
Even though my mother-in-law said she'd never made Hodge Podge, both she and my father-in-law knew what it was and he was quite excited about getting a container of what was leftover. there a typical Nova Scotia dish that would be challenging for a "come from away" to attempt to make? Something that would prove I'm worthy of being married to a Maritimer?
How about some version of haggis? C'mon, has no one invented Nova Scotia Haggis yet? I wonder what that would be...


  1. LOL! Dwayne looks very happy to be eating this! I think it's exciting for us when we only make it once a year - it's a dish that we all look forward to having when the new vegs are ready to use. :) Mum and Nanny would be pleased to know you tried this for yourself!

  2. Also, Mum used to put cut up ears of corn into chunks to add to the pot as well!

  3. And..... I read this on the day Nanny would have been 106 years old. :)