The 75-year-old Egmont Community Hall, a vital part of that area's history, needed a new foundation.
That's when editors and food fans Beverly Saunders and Kathy Gray stepped in with a plan. The two Egmont residents would write and sell a book, the Egmont Heritage Cookbook, incorporating stories, photos and recipes from locals, thereby raising necessary funds for repair of the hall. It's been done before - in fact, certain printing companies exist that produce nothing but fundraising cookbooks in a formula style. Saunders checked into the print companies and then decided to go with an original, homespun effort published by the Egmont Community Club. "We didn't want it to look like every other church's fundraising cookbook," Saunders says. "We wanted to keep the old time heritage look." The pair used Saunder's journalism and public relations background combined with Gray's home economics ability to produce their own effort. The result is a pure slice of Egmont life, along with some dandy recipes, many of which reflect the pioneering spirit of the area.
Of course, as befits a Coastal town, there is fish on the menu: the Backeddy Pub shares their seafood chowder recipe, the High Tide tour company gives their instructions for Egm'oysters, a wonderful marriage of fresh oysters in rock salt drenched in bacon, garlic and green pepper. In a heritage recipe from the late 1800s worth saving, Grandma Griffith gives up her secrets of clam chowder, and while not all of us are thrilled at the thought of making pickles from bladder kelp, the inclusion of the Sweet Kelp Pickles recipe gives a sense of what it must have been like to live with nature in the Egmont of 75 years ago.
The historical snippets: recollections of logging in the forest and teaching in the local school and the archive newspaper clippings that report such exciting events as finding gold in the area all contribute to a sense of rural community in which neighbours look out for one another.
For example, the sourdough bread recipe contributed by Phillip Waddell asks readers to call Phil if they want some starter. There's no phone number offered. Heck, everyone must know Phil. One of the strengths of the cookbook is how the editors scored so many prize- winners from the Pender Harbour Fall Faire.
In the interests of research, I baked one of the desserts that had found fame at the faire: the Glazed Lemon Nut Bread. Instructions were clear and easy to follow and the lemon loaf is now all gone. Other prize-winners include a comprehensive Blackberry Wine recipe and Gray's own Salal Wine Jelly and Blackberry Butter. "We had over 200 recipes contributed," says Saunders. "But we decided to go only with the ones that were not modern and did not include many processed or prepared ingredients."
The book has a few flaws: a clearer typeface would have been better so instructions would be legible when the book lies open on the kitchen counter, but this small problem will not detract from its success. Although on the market only since December, the publishers have covered costs already, with further funds intended for hall restoration. The Egmont Heritage Cookbook is available at Coast Books in Gibsons, Talewind Books in Sechelt, The Paper Mill in Madeira Park and Bathgates in Egmont for $16.