Margaret Fraser, a Canadian Foodie Icon and home economist passed away on October 27, 2012 in her 83rd year. She helped change the face of Canadian home cooking and I was lucky enough to meet her in 1999.
I was attending a luncheon in her honour. I’d been a fan of this iconic foodie and was totally gobsmacked when I met her. If you know me even remotely, you’ll understand the magnitude of my being left speechless.
Marg was born in Saskatoon and graduated with a degree in Home Economics from the University of Saskatchewan. She came to Toronto to do her internship as a dietitian at Toronto Western Hospital, but fortunately for we foodies her career shifted when she became an Associate Food Editor of Canadian Living magazine. She went on to influence home cooks across Canada acting as editor/contributor for countless issues of Canadian Living as well and many of their cookbooks.
She co-authored 2 other cookbooks. A Century of Canadian Home Cooking, which she co-authored with another foodie legend Carol Ferguson, is my go to book when I’m on the hunt for pure Canadian foods and our foodie history. The day I met her she signed my copy. Love what she wrote: “How much do you remember? Ask your family?”
Recognized with a Canadian Culinary Landmarks Hall of Fame Award, an award given to Canadian food writers who have contributed a stellar culinary book or body of works to the Canadian culture, Marg’s other awards include the Silver Ladle Award from Toronto Culinary Guild, shared with Elizabeth Baird, another Canadian Foodie Icon, the THEA Marjorie Flint Award, shared with Carol Ferguson, plus she was a Hall of Famer at the Ontario Home Economists in Business, one of the associations I belong to.
So there I stood with my book in hand, stunned. When I get really nervous I start rambling, which explains why Denis Leary thinks I’m insane. So there I stood in front of Ms. Fraser clutching my book and…. I started jabbering. All inane, all really embarrassing, I’m sure, I have no recollection. Bless her heart for just smiling and signing.
To honour her and her home economist roots I took her recipe from an amazing article that Elizabeth Baird wrote about her in the Toronto Sun, click here to read it.
To honour her and to keep our traditional recipes alive I baked her amazing buttery shortbread. It’s fabulous, crisp, buttery and delicious. I hope she doesn’t mind up in foodie heaven, but I did do one little thing different, heck I’m a home economist too! (I had one of my healthy moments and considered using whole wheat flour, gave my head a shake and thought better, its Christmas baking for the love of Pete! My wee change is in the method)
And because “The better the butter, the better the shortbread” a quote from one of fabulous followers on Twitter Diane Mitchell, I used Stirling butter.
Margaret Fraser’s Oatmeal Shortbread
From the Elizabeth Baird article
Marg Fraser’s connection to a Scottish heritage was visible in the bright red Fraser tartan jacket she often wore, and in recipes featuring one of her favourite ingredients: Rolled oats. She managed to include oats in bread, scones and even in these deliciously buttery shortbreads.
- 1 cup (250 ml) butter, softened
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour, spoon in and level off
- 1 cup (250 ml) quick-cooking rolled oats
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar; blend in vanilla. Gradually work in flour and oats, using spoon or fingers. Chill for about 20 minutes or until firm enough to roll. (here’s where I changed it a wee bit, I’m lazy…so I rolled it into 2 logs, wrapped it in parchment paper, chilled it for 1 hour, then all I had to do was cut in into ¼ inch slices and then baked it off)
Roll out on lightly floured surface, to about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thickness. Cut into 2-inch (5 cm) rounds. Place on ungreased (or parchment paper-lined) rimless baking sheets; prick with fork. Bake in centre of 325°F (160°C) oven until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes.
Makes about 48-56 cookies.