As small kids, my brother and I got to visit a cottage in Pugwash, Nova Scotia for a few weeks in the summer. Our family did not have a cottage but thanks to our Dad, who is very handy at building things and just happened to help his friends, the owners, transform the cottage from a nice little cabin with outhouse, to a more luxurious place with indoor plumbing and a couple more rooms. This was our introduction to the cottage lifestyle, and the place where we learned about fireflies, tides, not stepping on jellyfish, sailing catamarans and salmon casserole made with potato chips instead of pasta.
In high school in Ontario, we learned that the summer tradition is to get out of the city and go to a cottage on a lake. Many families had cottages, small cabins hidden amongst the trees by a lake. In the good old days, mothers would take the kids to the cottage for the entire summer holiday and the fathers would show up on weekends and the couple of weeks for their annual vacation. A cottage is a step above camping as the structure is more permanent but the idea is still to bring in your supplies (food, water, other beverages, bedding and whatever you need to survive a week or month or two). It was still intended to be somewhat of a wilderness sojourn where there were some hardships to endure (outhouses, no running water, no hot water, mosquitoes, to name a few). Cottages were for casual living, a place where you spent every day in bathing suits, shorts, and t-shirts. Towels were thrown over deck railings to dry in preparation for the next swim. A canoe was the means of transportation to visit the neighbours. Meals were cooked on the barbecue and sundowners were served on the deck for the adults while watching the sunset over the lake. Still my family did not have a cottage, but I did have the pleasure of visiting some friends’ cottages.
I spent last week at my friend Anne’s cottage on Pike Lake, near Perth, Ontario. We stocked up on supplies at Foodsmith’sin Perth on our way in. This cottage has running hot and cold water, an indoor toilet, a full kitchen, 3 bedrooms, and now new windows. I enjoyed gourmet cuisine using fresh local ingredients (no grilled hot dogs for us) while enjoying the lovely scenery. Ontario is experiencing the same changeable weather that we are having in Western Europe this summer so I did not get in swimming but I did enjoy the sundowners on the deck served with canapés.
Another tradition of cottage life is baking and Anne made banana bread and fruit muffins for us to enjoy at breakfast.
Here is Anne's Banana Bread recipe:
Canadian Cottage Banana Bread
440 mL (1-3/4 cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
12 mL (2-1/4 tsp) double acting baking powder
2.5 mL (½ tsp) salt
80 mL (1/3 cup) butter
160 mL (2/3 cup) sugar
4 mL (¾ tsp) grated lemon rind
1-2 beaten eggs
250 mL (1 cup) ripe banana pulp
60 mL (¼ cup) sour cream (crème fraiche)
125 mL (½ cup) chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Blend butter, sugar and lemon rind until creamy. Add sifted ingredients to creamed batter a third at a time and beat until smooth after each addition. Fold in sour cream and nuts. Place batter in a greased 11 cm x 22 cm (8-1/2” x 4-1/2”) loaf tin. Bake for about 1 hour or until done. Cool before slicing.