Updated: Jan 28
In Time Will Tell: Book One, Chapter Three, Summer, Shelton announces to Lidia that they are going on an assignment to Nova Scotia, a province in a region she’s never visited before. She is apprehensive, so Shelton teases her with some of the unusual names of the traditional local dishes, hodge-podge being one of them. Here is the excerpt, followed by the recipe:
“Don’t say it,” warned Lidia, raising a stern index finger to the lips of her indignant colleague, Shelton.
“Oh, alrighty then Ms. Mew, what do you, our exalted editor have to say about Brunhilde’s damnation by faint praise, and her imposition on our well-earned summer holidays? I mean if I had wanted to work for God Almighty, I would’ve joined the church,” Shelton hissed.
A distraught Lidia looked past Shelton’s indignant scowl as if a diplomatic answer could be found floating as an apparition behind him, which unfortunately failed to emerge.
“Well, I uh...oh dammit Shelton! You know very well what I’d like to say, but I can’t. So... I don’t know, just ‘suck it up’... won’t you, please?” She found herself imploring, searching his periwinkle blue eyes for a sign of humor and assent.
“Only for you Miss Mew, and only for now, until the editorial revamp is complete,” Shelton promised with a heavy sigh, invoking his pet name for Lidia, one he adopted when she was just a charming fledgling happily sheltered beneath his avuncular wing.
“Thanks for not stirring the pot Shelton, I won’t forget this,” promised a relieved Lidia.
“Oh, don’t worry; you won’t get the chance to, because next holiday weekend we’re going on an investigative sojourn, down the long and winding roads through Nova Scotia’s wine country.” “They have wine in Nova Scotia?” Lidia said raising an eyebrow.
“They seem to think so,” Shelton responded dryly.
“And food... will there be food?”
“Last time I checked,” said Shelton.
“You know what I mean by food Shelton-the kind of comestibles I...we, would eat.”
“Look girl, they’ll feed you up right. cods’ cheeks, snapped mackerel, Solomon Gundy, hodge podge...the works! It’ll be some good,” he drawled.
“Shelton, why are you talking like that and what the hell is ‘hodge podge’?”
To answer Lidia’s, and perhaps your question:
Hodge-podge a classic Maritime dish that evolved in an era when most homes had a kitchen garden from which the very first or last of the summer’s vegetables were harvested then cooked together adding cream, sometimes salt pork and a few simple herbs like chives or dill to create a sweet and delicious vegetable stew.
I find that oven-steaming all the vegetables in a tightly lidded casserole dish together in a little water and butter, then adding the cream to finish their cooking, retains all the tasty vegetable juices and flavours, as well as their nutrients. Before serving, I garnish with a sprig of mint and a little dollop of chive butter, adding a freshness that lifts and highlights the flavours of the vegetables.
Serve hodge-podge with a plate of warm, buttered home-made biscuits and you’ll be comforted and satisfied with this wholesome and simple seasonal pleasure. Bon appétit!
Hodge-Podge with Herb Butter
8-10 baby carrots
raw kernels from 2 corn cobs
1 cup of fresh shelled peas
2 medium bunch- onions (white bulbs only) or leeks
8 very small new potatoes
¼ lb. each of small green beans and yellow beans
4 sprigs of dill, chopped
1 cup water
A few sprigs of watercress or mint
small bunch of chives, finely chopped
8 tbsp. soft butter
3 tsp. cornstarch
2 ½ cups 18% cream
Peel the carrots and potatoes, cut carrots diagonally in ½” pieces and quarter the potatoes
Remove strings from the beans, cut each diagonally in half
Trim the onions, cut them into eighths
Preheat oven to 400f.
Add the water, vegetables, and dill to a medium-sized, deep-sided casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid, sprinkle the vegetables lightly with salt and pepper, dab-on 3 tablespoons butter over the vegetables. Cover tightly and cook on middle rack for approx. 20 mins.
Meanwhile, reserve 4 tbsp. cream and simmer the rest in a small saucepan, do not boil. Dissolve the cornstarch in the reserved cream, then whisk it into the warm cream to thicken. Remove from heat and cover
Remove vegetables from oven and stir-in thickened cream, cover and continue to cook until vegetables are just tender, approx. 10 mins.
With a fork, combine chives into remaining soft butter
Ladle hodge-podge into serving bowls and garnish each with a little dollop of chive butter and sprig of mint.