JOAN SULLIVAN: Bulman balances deliciousness and readability in ‘Bucket of Corned Beef: A Love Story’

There are several reasons why cookbooks remain so popular in an age when any fool (by which I mean me) can google any recipe: cookbooks are often much more than a collection of food preparation instructions. There’s the cook’s personality, their cuisine selection and how they contextualize it.

If so, you might recognize the author’s name from his CBC commentary or comedic comedy.

Amanda Dorothy Jean Bulman actually decided to be a librarian, but “instead of studying for my database management course, I spent my time making homemade dips and bread for my study groups. . I was hosting events and parties at my school and planning potlucks on the weekends instead of studying. »

After her studies, she worked in a bakery.

When she and her husband moved to Newfoundland (her home), she was warned that she was settling in a place where little grew and where tastes were unadventurous and linear. Instead, she regularly feasted on everything from strawberries to trout, worked “at the Reluctant Chef restaurant and learned to use local ingredients in an entirely new way”, and developed an interest in foraging. .

The very shape of the “corned beef bucket”, with its shiny lid and rounded outer corners, reflects the unique, high-quality and tempting contents.

The material is grouped into four sections, which could actually be how we should think of our seasons: “late winter to early spring”, “mid-spring to summer”, ” fall” and “Christmas”.

The organization of the book represents “traditional patterns of food provision and use”, and she amplified this program with “some parallel trips into other traditions as well, such as rug hooking, fairy tales and how to make a fire.

Bulman learned that food crosses borders, recipes travel and adapt.

“The fact is that Newfoundland is almost an exception to this rule”, because it is of course an island with the final borders of the Atlantic Ocean, although the socio-economic changes from the Confederacy to the oil boom will certainly have significant changes and impacts. “So this book is both a look back and a look forward.”

Foodstuffs are updated, but also taking into account their provenance.

The first few pages cover “boils” with the handy “Fire-starting 101” (“You will need the following supplies: > A pile of rocks. > Matches or another type of fire starter. No gasoline to lighter please – you’ll burn down someone’s house and your marshmallows will taste weird…”)

This section also includes “Breads and Baked Goods” and Bulman’s inclusion of old and new is immediately clear and instructive.

With Tea Buns, for example, the recipes include both “old fashioned biscuits” and “modernized honey buttermilk biscuits”.

The text is full of helpful tips and illuminating asides: “Many cafes and small bakeries use whipping cream or coffee cream in their cookies. I am not a fan. It might sound a bit snobbish, but I think buttermilk is the only option here…” “Sustainable Harvesting” and “A Quick Side Journey Into Rig Hooking” are also explored.

“Mid-Spring to Summer” delves into “cultivation”, “foraging”, “farming” and “fishing”, and “autumn”, “autumn fruits and vegetables “Night at Colcannon in Newfoundland” and “Searching for Autumn Mushrooms,” “There are many, many color photographs, not just of ingredients and dishes, but of people and activities, visual hints that constantly reinforce Bulman’s varied and curious text. Food security, home ownership, and foraging (“Don’t Eat What You Don’t Recognize”) are explored alongside Patridge’s recipes for Labrador Tea, Pan-Seared Cod, and Berry Cheesecake.

Because it is this time of year, let’s immerse ourselves in “Christmas”, which opens with “Stir-up Sunday”, a custom dating from feudal times, when, on the last Sunday of November, the cooks “stir” their Christmas cakes and puddings. The recipes for “Christmas cake” and “fig pudding” follow.

“Christmas Mains” of course begins with the turkey, although Bulman has two (or more) opinions on this.

“I roasted turkey until the skin was a beautiful dark crackling caramel and served it with a chipotle sauce that you could drink straight from a ladle. Last year, after months of begging, I finally convinced my family to let me fry the turkey…my sister’s partner was made a security guard.

“Turkey Breast Stuffed with Hazelnuts, Sage and Whipped Goat Cheese” comes with “Merasheen Fried Oysters” and “Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegan Pine Nut Risotto”. “Sweets” explores “The Fruitcake Dilemma” accompanied by various shortcakes drizzled with “Christmas Slush”.

Throughout, “Salt Beef Bucket” strikes a balance between deliciousness and readability.

Joan Sullivan is editor of the Newfoundland Quarterly. She reviews fiction and non-fiction for The Telegram.