But regardless of original location, both sides of my family survived for a time as farmers. A favourite story of my maternal grandfather's is how his great grandfather burned down a fellow farmer's barn and silo after being stiffed payment for something (a lesser known tale is that a political activist in that genetic lineup tried and failed to burn down the British parliament). Even today, my mom and I are passionate gardeners, and if it were legal here I'm sure we would have our own backyard chickens.
For these historical famers, Sunday nights meant big, hearty meals around the family table, where children, parents, grandparents and occasionally family friends would converge over great food and better conversation. A centrepiece of roasted meat flanked by a starch (usually potatoes), steamed veggies and a salad was that night's menu, often in such quantity that Monday's meal was taken care of too. That Sunday meal is comparable to today's Easter or Thanksgiving feast, slightly scaled down depending on the number of clan members attending.
When it came time for me to pick an offering for this week's Sunday Supper event (the theme of which being "Celebrating Family Heritage"), I turned to one of my new favourite cookbooks - The Old Farmer's Almanac 2012 Garden-Fresh Cookbook (stay tuned for an upcoming review on Read, Write, Cook). It was hard to choose at first, but then I found the page titled Lemon-Balm Roast Chicken, and I knew it was a match made in Heaven. Not only did it play into my historical (and not so historical, since my aunt and uncle raised chickens for a while) poultry-farming roots, but it also was filled with a compound butter that I could proudly say I made from scratch. Butter created from the last of a long ago holiday's whipping cream was beaten with lots of fresh lemon balm from right outside my back door, then stuffed under the skin of a fresh, organic chicken. I built onto the recipe by adding lemon thyme and chpped fresh lemon to the cavity too, which kept everything so moist it melted onto the fork.
For dessert, I took another piece of my background puzzle - my dad's rum-running grandfather and father - and coupled it with a touch of Canada to come up with tiny mouthfuls of sweetness: Rum Raisin Mini-Cupakes with Maple Frosting!
Check out more #SundaySupper participants here:
How do you celebrate your cultural heritage at the dinner table?
Double - Lemon Roast Chicken
Makes 1 large chicken, four pieces
1/4 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed lemon balm leaves
pinch black pepper
pinch Kosher salt
4 lbs organic fresh roasting chicken
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp Kosher salt
1 organic lemon, quartered
1 sprig fresh thyme (use lemon thyme if you have it)
- In a small bowl, cream the butter, lemon balm, salt and pepper. Set aside. (This can be done ahead of time, I recommend it.)
- Remove chicken from the fridge 1 hour before roasting. Preheat oven to 350F.
- Loosen the skin (or make shallow incisions) all over and stuff with the compound butter.
- Rub the outside of the bird with paprika and Kosher salt and place the lemon quarters and thyme sprig in the cavity.
- Place chicken, breast side down, in a lightly greased roasting pan.
- Cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, then turn the bird over and roast a further 30-35 minutes, until done.
- Remove from oven and tent with foil for 10 minutes.
- Remove and discard stuffing before carving.
Calories: 437.4Total Fat: 30.5 g
Cholesterol: 153.5 mg
Sodium: 616.8 mg
Total Carbs: 0.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.1 gProtein: 38.4 g
Rum Raisin Minicakes with Maple Frosting
Makes 8 "mini" cupcakes
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp raw cane sugar
3 (1 gram) packets stevia sweetener (I used vanilla Krisda)
2 tbsp dark raisins
3 tbsp spiced rum
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp melted vegan butter or oil
2 tbsp vegan butter or solid coconut oil
1 tbsp dark amber maple syrup
1/2 tsp natural maple extract (optional)
1/4 cup powdered sugar (I whirled my sucanat in a coffee grinder)
- Preheat the oven to 400F, grease or line mini muffin cups with paper liners
- In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice, salt, sugar and stevia. Add the raisins and toss to coat.
- Stir in the rum, water and melted vegan butter until just combined.
- Bake 10 minutes, then unmould immediately onto a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.
- For frosting, beat together the vegan butter, maple syrup, maple extract, powdered sugar and salt until smooth.
- Frost cooled cupcakes and dot each with a raisin if desired.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 122.2Total Fat: 4.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 45.8 mg
Total Carbs: 17.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 gProtein: 1.2 g