Recipe for Saskatoon Moos a Prairie favourite
By Darcie Hossack
I was at a fast food restaurant the other day and saw that an employee, who was wearing plastic gloves, handled money and then food. I wanted to tell her that there’s not much difference between dirty hands and dirty gloves, but I didn’t. It got me thinking, though. I bet chefs really notice when things aren’t clean. Maybe this is a silly question, but I’d like to know what kinds of things you notice and if you speak up?
Thanks, “a faithful reader”
Chefhusband, who is a poster chef for food safety, is the only professional cook between the two of us. But we share a blacklist of restaurants we’ll never, not ever, eat at again.
We can’t name them here, much as we might like to have a proper outting, but we can tell you some of the more cringe-worthy things we’ve seen ourselves and heard from other local chefs and foodies. At least one story isn’t family-rate. And while that means we won’t repeat it here, hearing it forever erased our ability to offer benefit-of-the-doubt where hygiene is concerned. It also led to one diner’s chronic need for antibiotics.
The last thing we want though, is for anyone to stop eating out. It’s our very favourite thing to do! And there are so many brilliant kitchens to chose from. But how to know?
Well, for one, if a take-away sushi vendor has trays of raw fish sitting on the counter (true story) instead of a refrigerated display, don’t touch it with a ten foot chopstick. Run away! And call the food inspector.
Besides room temperature sushi, there are plenty of other things that get us vexy.
For one, there was the time we saw a food handler chain smoking outside, in uniform, on a break. A minute later she returned to the sandwich assembly line without washing.
Or the prep line that was so filthy with fruit flies that it was hard to tell whether that was mayonnaise or ranch dressing under the crawling skin of bugs.
Any cook, epidemiologist or person with half a bit of sense, will tell you that the danger zone for bacteria is when food is neither hot nor cold. So we really get our angry eyes on when we see a restaurant thawing vacuum-sealed bags of frozen soup in buckets of hot water, then plopping the soup in a warmer.
Soup should be thawed under cold, preferably running water, or in the fridge, then brought up to a full boil before holding at serving temperature. Period.
Finally, there’s the restaurant that’s known for re-serving partially used dip cups of condiments that return to the kitchen on diners’ plates. Enough said.
And the moral of the story is this:
Not all restaurants are created equal. Sometimes it’s one person at fault and a manager can be notified or a comment card filled out. Other times it’s best to use your, or someone else’s, best judgement.
I’m happy when you talk about your Mennonite roots. When you wrote about being Hutterite because of that book I Am Hutterite, I went right away to get a copy. My mom always made a recipe called Cherry Moos and I wonder if you have a recipe like this one. If not, I’d love to give you mine. I use Saskatoons when I have them. But chokecherries and sour cherries work, too.
Sincerely, Mrs. Dyck
Dear Mrs. Dyck,
Thank you so much for this. My Grandma Friesen used to make moos with Saskatoons, chokecherries or plums. I tried your recipe right away, using blueberries for want of Saskatoons, and can tell you it’s now in my permanent collection. I prefer it served cold.
1 quart Saskatoons
2 quarts water
2/3 cup sugar
4-5 tbs flour
1 cup sweet cream
Cook fruit and water until soft.
Add half of the sugar.
Add the other half of the sugar to the flour and mix with cream until smooth.
Add mixture to the pot and stir constantly until thickened.
You can serve this warm or cold.