Rhonda’s Been Screeched!

Posted on: November 4th, 2012 by Carla Johnson 2 Comments
We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true NewfoundlandersCooking With Sin Carla Johnson
We’ll rant and we’ll roar on deck and below
Until we see bottom inside the two sunkers
When straight through the Channel to Toslow we’ll go.
~ Traditional Newfoundland folksong

When some people travel they remain aloof and distant tourists, but when Rhonda went to Newfoundland on a research trip with her husband John, remaining aloof was the last thing on her mind. Becoming an honourary Newfoundlander was on the top of her to-do list – 2nd only to watching her husband attach a tracking beacon to an iceberg with a robotic helicopter! Ya, pretty cool, eh?

Rhonda's husband John watching the iceberg at sunset

Newfoundland is a very special island that became our 10th province, somewhat reluctantly, in 1949. A rocky, windy province rich in culture and traditions, Newfoundland was once a great exporter of cod fish. The supply was enormously abundant. The island economy relied almost solely on it, but in the early 1990’s the cod disappeared, probably never to return. Newfoundlanders have always lived with harsh Atlantic winds, but learning to live with the devastating winds of greedy over-fishing and vision-less politicians has been extremely challenging.

Becoming an honourary Newfoundlander doesn’t take long and it isn’t a difficult process either, it’s just a bit gross. You become a Royal Order of Newfoundland Screechers by participating in a Screech-In ceremony. If you are on the island, you will find many pubs that hold Screeching ceremonies.

Cooking With Sin Carla Johnson

Pucker up Rhonda! Love your yellow southwesterner!

Cooking With Sin Carla Johnson

Rhonda and John shooting Screech


The Screech-In ceremony steps are simple and quick.

#1. A Newfoundlander must be present.

#2. Pour a shot of screech and have it ready.

#3. Sing some Newfoundland folk songs or recite the Screecher’s Creed:

“From the waters of the Avalon, to the shores of Labrador,
We’ve always stuck together, with a Rant and with a Roar.
To those who’ve never been, soon they’ll understand,
From coast to coast, we raise a toast, We love thee Newfoundland!”

#4. You must kiss a cod fish. Really. On the lips! This was an old traditional bon voyage to sailors heading to the Caribbean to return with the rum.

#5. You must answer the question, “Is ye a screecher?” with “Deed I is my old cock and long may your big jib draw.” (Translation: Yes indeed my old buddy [old Cockney term] and may there always be wind in your sails.” )

#6. Bottom’s up! Toss back the shooter of screech/rum.

#7. You may even receive a certificate commemorating the illustrious event! Hopefully it is all captured on camera.

A few hundred years ago, barrels that carried both rum and molasses were rarely cleaned, so the sediment would be boiled and distilled with grain to produce a strong alcohol. While each batch had its own unique flavour and was more of a moonshine, it was called “Screech.” Today Newfoundland Screech is a branch of rum.

Sometimes life can get so rough
Along our rocky shore
We say we’ll just pack up and leave
And won’t come back no more
But something just keeps pulling us
As though it had us by the hand
And every road we travel on
Leads back to Newfoundland.

~ Gord Payne

Rhonda is a great friend of mine and a wonderful supporter of Cooking With Sin. You will love the two recipes she has shared here on the site: Bread Pudding & Hard Caramel Sauce and A Little Leftover Red Wine Jelly.

Carla Johnson

Rhonda in Newfoundland

Here’s a great clip about Newfoundland from “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” one of our favourite, brilliant Canadian comedies.

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From Rum Running to Women’s Lib

Posted on: June 2nd, 2012 by Carla Johnson No Comments

“I went into rum running for the cash and I stayed in it for four years for the fun it gave me. There was money in the game — lots of it if you could keep it. Beyond that there was all the kick of gambling and the thrill of sport, and besides these, there was open sea and the boom of the wind against full sails, dawn coming out of the ocean, and nights under rocking stars. These caught and held me most of all.” ~ Bill McCoy, famous non-drinking rum runner who never watered-down his products, hence the name, “The Real McCoy.”

40 years ago, the sign outside the Hofbrau Room at the Walper Hotel in Kitchener said “Reserved for Men Only” during their lunch hours of 12-2 pm. The Hofbrau was a very nice, elegant place to eat and eleven young women in their 20’s, all office workers in downtown Kitchener, were frustrated by the exclusion and decided to challenge it.

On a spring day at lunch time, those 11 young women went in to the Hofbrau, sat down at table and waited… and waited. They sat for an hour being ignored by the staff and had to return to work with empty stomachs. Several male patrons supported them and offered them their food, but the women wanted to be served properly. A week later they went back again with a reporter. This time the sign was down and they were served a very nice meal.

Six of those women recently got together for a reunion to celebrate the success of that eventful day and our local paper The Record covered their story, Tackling an all-male sanctuary is worth celebrating. The women have long outlived the Hofbrau, so they had their reunion in the basement pub, the Rum Rummer.

Much discussion has ensued since the article about these wonderful women was printed. People are asking questions such as, “Are women-only sports club now discriminatory to men?” These issues are not easy to navigate and we need to constantly keep the conversation going, but for me it comes down to the one point the women made. That sign made them feel like 2nd class citizens. Women have come a long way in the past 40 years. At the time they were definitely treated like 2nd class citizens in many ways and full equality is still a long way off, but open conversation will certainly make things happen a lot faster.

The Rum Runner has its own interesting history. While the Walper Hotel was hosting nobility from around the world during Prohibition, Al Capone, the Seagrams and their ilk (I love the word “ilk”!) were exchanging liquors and discreetly handling their business in the tunnels and hidden places under the hotel – hence the name. The owners today have preserved the safes and many items from that interesting time in Kitchener history and I hear their menu is wonderful too!


These photos are from a post on eBay where someone is auctioning off a Hofbrau menu. The seller might appreciate a bid!

P.S. This post just happens to correspond nicely with the one on my person blog today “Girl Power Has Always Been Here To Stay.

Bring on 2012 with Bubbles!

Posted on: December 30th, 2011 by Carla Johnson No Comments

“Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends.” ~ Tom Waits

A New Year celebration naturally calls for sparkling wine, so let me help you find some great deals.

Natalie MacLean of NatalieMacLean.com specializes in finding the best wines for the best prices here in Ontario. This year for New Years, three of her recommendations are:

A James Bond Favourite!

Taittinger Champagne Brut Réserve, A.C., Champagne $53.95

An “Affair to Remember” Pink Champagne

Freixenet Cava Cordon Rosado $12.65

My Favourite!

Santa Margherita Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene Brut $17.95

You can see Natalie MacLean’s Top 10 Bubblies for 2012 here.

Did you know? While Dom Perrignon did not invent champagne, he did create the cork and wire design that holds the cork in place.

“Viking Blood” Beer Porridge

Posted on: December 18th, 2011 by Carla Johnson No Comments
“This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption… Beer!”
– Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Friar Tuck

Recently I was at a trade show and a woman walked up to me startled by my height. I’m 6’2” and I love it. She had a really good sense of humour and made me laugh when she said, “You don’t look so tall on your blog!”

My blood line is a mix of Dutch and Norwegian. As you may know from my first post, the maternal line of my family is Mennonite (100% Dutch descent). The paternal side – the Johnson side of my family – is Norwegian, so I decided there has to be some Viking blood in me.

Vikings were not the barbarians that legend has implied. By the 9th century, Vikings had started settling into England and it has been said that English women preferred Norse husbands because they were very well read, plus they bathed and used combs.

Porridge comes with many different names from different parts of the world, but the recipe remains really simple. Porridge is a dish made from boiling a grain in water or milk.

In 1854, Hanna Winsnes (1789-1872) published the first Norwegian cookbook. “Lærebog i de forskjellige Grene af Husholdningen”which basically translates to “Teaching book in the different sections of the household”.

One of Hanna’s recipes is “Beer Porridge.” The instructions she wrote were awkward to intrepret, so I did some searching and reworked it in 21st century English. My version is different, but more workable, I believe.

On page 155 of Hanna Winsnes’ cook book:

The beer is mixed with water according to taste; normal home-brew beer can be used undiluted. For each pot of mix take two egg yokes and one half pægel (1.2dl) of full fat cream, or three egg yokes without cream. Beat well. When the beer is boiling and has been mixed cooked with sugar (to taste), take the pot off the heat, and pour in the eggs while beating vigorously, to form a froth.

The dish does not keep but must be eaten immediately.

Dice fine rye bread and brown it in butter; when it has been well mixed with the butter sprinkle a little powdered sugar (icing sugar) over, keep stirring, like when you are roasting coffee. This is eaten with the beer porridge, and can be made before the beer is started.


Norwegian Beer Porridge

2 cups rye bread, dried and finely crumbled
4 cups beer
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup brown sugar
Cold skimmed milk

1. Mix the rye bread, beer, egg and sugar in a pot.

2. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer, stirring constantly, until it thickens.

3. Serve warm with cold skimmed milk.

Can be served as a dessert with whipped cream.
For a sweeter porridge, substitute dried spice cake crumbs for the rye bread and spice with cinnamon and nutmeg


Let me take this opportunity to introduce you to Mads Refslund, a brilliant Danish chef. Here is a description of his beer porridge.

Old rye bread softened with beer and then submerged under white chocolate foam and salted milk ice cream. This must be the breakfast that fuels grizzled fishermen as they hunker down against wild North Sea winds. It was out of this world and completely unique to my palate.


Have some fun! Here’s a site where you can write your own motto in Old Norse:


Join us on Facebook! Here is the link to the “Like” page.

Canada’s Wine Sales Soaring

Posted on: March 4th, 2011 by Carla Johnson No Comments

This just in…. read this today at: http://www.walletpop.ca/blog/2011/02/26/canadians-driven-to-drink-as-wine-sales-surge/ 

Canadians Driven To Drink As Wine Sales Surge

by Alia McMullen Alia McMullen RSS Feed
Feb 26th 2011 

Wine sales in Canada are rising six times faster than in the rest of the world, putting Canada on track to become the world’s third largest wine importer behind China and the U.S. in the coming years, a global market research report has found.

But increasing imports are not the country’s only source of vino, with local production and sales surging. Sales of spirits are also growing steadily.

The report, conducted by research firm IWSR for the wine and spirits industry group VINEXPO, does not track beer sales, although it appears an interesting dynamic is occurring: While the value of beer sales has continued to inch up in Canada, figures show that per capita consumption has been on the decline since the mid 1970s. In effect, Canadians are developing a more “cultured” palate.

Nice, eh? 😉