The Local Veg (a new column): Exploring Unintentionally Veg Vintage Recipes

There is a tendency to think of vegetarianism and veganism as modern phenomenon. This sometimes leaves people to wonder what they could possibly cook for their loved ones of the veg*n persuasion. While it may be gaining popularity and media attention these days, vegetarianism is certainly not a new concept. While some cultural cuisines may contain more veg friendly dishes than others, even within the most meat and potatoes fare one may be able to find vegetarian (and even vegan) dishes that have been eaten all along. I decided to test this theory recently when my aunt lent me some of my late Franco-Manitoban/Polish grandmother’s hand transcribed cookbooks from the 1980’s. When she was alive, my grandmother was very accommodating of my vegan ways – even once making me a small batch of pierogi! But I wanted to see if there were inadvertently some vegetarian and vegan dishes in her books. I was surprise to find that there were quite a lot of vegetarian recipes and many more that could be readily made veg friendly with a few substitutions (although I’m not sure how I would go about substituting pig’s feet or salt pork – those recipes will for now remain a challenge to tackle in the future). However, what surprised me the most was that there were some vegan friendly recipes in those cook books as well. I’ve included some interesting vintage vegan recipes that sound pretty different that anything the kids are cooking up these days. (Unfortunately, I can’t properly attribute these recipes as it isn’t recorded in the book).

The recipes that stood out to me as most worth sharing are, Molasses Pie, Pumpkin Butter, and Rolled-Oat Shortbread.

Pumpkin Butter

3.5 cups pumpkin cooked and mashed
4.4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
1 box Certo crystals (pectin)

Put pumpkin in large pan, prepare sugar, add spice and certo to pumpkin, mix all. Put on hot stove, and mix until it boils hard. Add sugar in all at once, bring to rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat, pour in jars after a few minutes.

Molasses Pie


  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • a little nutmeg
  • Lemon or lemon peel
  • 4 tbsp corn starch

    Boil molasses, sugar, peel, nutmeg, water, add corn starch. Cook then pour in a cooked pie shell.

    Rolled-Oat Shortbread (makes 80)


  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats

    Sift together the first three ingredients: cream margarine, gradually blend in next three ingredients: add flour mixture port at a time, combine well
    Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, knead until smooth;
    Pat or roll dough to 10 x 12 ½ rectangles
    Cut in 1 ¼ square and arrange a part on a cookie sheet
    Bake at 300 F oven for 20-25 minutes
    Cool on wire racks

    Do you have any topics that you'd like me to write about? Or a recipe that you think is "unveganizable"? Let me know! Send an email to and let me know!