Pudding is a British term for a cake batter stuffed in a cloth bag and steamed in a pot of boiling water. It originated in 16th-century England, traditionally called Christmas or Plum Pudding. This recipe showcases the British influence in Nova Scotia. In 1913 alone, over 113,000 English immigrants arrived in Canada, many of them taking up residence in the Maritime provinces – so, it is no surprise that this cookbook contains traditional British desserts.
This "Fig Pudding" recipe features the three ingredients used most extensively across the cookbook: milk, sugar, and eggs. Figs, along with currants, dates, or raisins were used as fresh fruit was not accessible year-round. The recipe also calls for suet, which is the tissue that surrounds the kidneys of cows and mutton. Once removed from the animal, it is chopped, boiled in water, then cooled so the fat separates out. Suet was preferred over butter for this method of preparation because it has a higher melting point than butter, which would melt before the pudding could set, resulting in a heavy and greasy end product. Fig Pudding was an important way that British women preserved food in preparation for the Christmas season, so it makes sense to see such an important dish make its way into a Canadian cookbook.
This recipe appears to have been inspired by Green Tomato Chow-Chow, which is a traditional Nova Scotia relish meant to use up the remaining green tomato crop ahead of the first frost. The use of gelatine comes as no surprise, as North America was in the midst of the Jell-O craze, so this ingredient was present in many sweet and savoury dishes at the time. Notably, the recipe's contributor recommends Cox’s gelatine, which comes from the J. & G. Cox Company in Edinburgh, Scotland, once again pointing to the influence of the British Isles in the cookbook. Another ingredient in the recipe, tarragon vinegar, was first widely used in 16th-century England, before being brought to North America in the 19th century.
Ingredients from other regions of the world appear as well: catsup was first made and consumed in Southeast Asia; the spice mace is native to Indonesia; and bay leaves were first cultivated in Mediterranean countries. As such, this recipe suggests that by the 1910s, a global trade of food products was well-established, providing Canadians in both rural and urban areas access to a wide variety of products, flavours, and dishes.