Cooking Up History
Honey and Some of the Ways it May be Used was written during an important and influential time in Canadian history. The cookbook was published in 1936, a few years into the period referred to as the Great Depression. After stock markets crashed in 1929, the Canadian economy entered a severe downturn, resulting in job loss, reduced incomes, and many Canadian families struggling to survive. It was not uncommon for households to not have enough money to buy food. During the Great Depression, honey became an important ingredient because it was versatile, cheap, available, and could be used in many different kinds of dishes.
The beginning of the Second World War in 1939 effectively ended the Great Depression in Canada, but concerns about food availability remained. To ensure that the food supply could be stretched to feed soldiers and civilians, rationing was introduced, which placed limits on how much of a certain food could be purchased. Sugar was one of the first items to be rationed, forcing cooks to make significant adjustments to their recipes, especially baked goods, due to the lack of sugar. Once again honey became a reliable substitute as it was a cheaper and more accessible alternative compared to other sweeteners like agave and sugar cane.
The recipes throughout the cookbook also provide a glimpse of how meals were prepared, cooked, and served during the 1930s. The recipes in this cookbook would have been well-received by readers because they are simple and straight-forward. The majority, if not all, of the recipes in Honey and Some of the Ways it May be Used have a short and concise list of ingredients, followed by clear instructions for cooking or baking. Many of the ingredients in the cookbook's recipes would have been found in most Canadian households during the 1930s, such as yeast, milk, flour, eggs, and butter. Overall, the recipes contained within the cookbook demonstrate that cooking did not have to be complex and the best recipes were those that still worked when ingredients like honey could be used in place of sugar.