Quebec is one of the provinces of our neighbors to the north, Canada. This province is located in the east-central portion of the country. Quebec considers itself as a nation within a united Canada and not just a province. The subject and debate of independence plays a large role in its politics.

The official language of Quebec is French. It is the language that is spoken in schools, businesses and on the street. Don’t quote me on this, but I once heard or read there was a time if another language was spoken on the street, you would be in big trouble... Maybe fined or something.

Quebec translates to “where the river narrows.” Over the years this province has gone through several name changes. It was Samuel de Champlain, an explorer, who chose the name for this French colony of New France. At times it is referred to as “La belle province” or “The beautiful province.”

This province covers an area approximately three times the size of France or Texas. Much of the area is sparely populated. Quebec is divided into four climates with four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Temperature varies within itself depending on the wind chill factor.

The first European explorers encountered the nations of native Iroquois, Algonquin’s and Inuit. These tribes basely were fur traders who coexisted with one another, but at times warred with each other.

In the early 1500s an expedition came upon this territory on the way to finding a trade route to China. It became the first province of New France.

Quebec is considered the mecca of economy in the area, playing a leading role in information and communication technologies, aerospace, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry. It is second only to Ontario in these industries.

Quebec City is the capital of Quebec and is known for its Winter Carnival, summer music festivals and sporting events. There is also the much celebrated Saint Jean-Baptiste Day. Tourists from around the globe travel to events in this popular Canadian province. The city is one of the oldest cities in North America. It is located where the St. Lawrence River meets with the St. Charles River.

There is a strong culinary influence of foods from France and Ireland. These two groups represent the largest ethnic groups in Quebec.

Quebec cuisine is most famous for poutine, tourtieres (meat pies), pate, pea soup, baked beans, pork dishes and maple treats, such as “tire-Ste-Catherine” (St. Catherine’s Taffy).

Poutine is considered the national dish by some. The dish consists of French fries covered with cheese curd and topped off with a brown gravy. Sometimes the fries are twice fried, which allows the inside to stay soft and fluffy with a crispy outside.

St. Catherine is the patron saint of “unmarried women.” Her feast day is celebrated on Nov. 25 when marriage-age girls make candy for eligible boys. But, this candy making is fun year-round.

St. Catherine’s Taffy

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 1 cup brown sugar• 1/2 cup corn syrup

• 1/2 cup molasses• 1/2 cup water

• 1 tablespoon white vinegar• 1/4 cup salted butter +

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda• Wax paper

In a somewhat large saucepan, bring all of the ingredients except baking soda to a boil. Over medium heat cook with lid until candy thermometer reads 126 degrees. Add in baking soda and stir with a wooden spoon just enough to blend. Pour in 9” by 13” heat resistance glass dish that has been generously buttered. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Taffy should be warm – not hot. When candy is cool enough to handle, butter your hands and start to stretch taffy for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut mixture in half. Continue to stretch one half at a time into a ½” ribbon. Oil your scissors and cut into 1” long pieces. Set on a baking sheet that has been lined with wax or parchment paper under you are ready to wax them. Wrap each piece of candy in a 4” piece of wax paper, twisting ends. Makes approximately 72 pieces.

French Canadian Tourtiere (Meat Pie)

There are several types and ways to make this popular French meat pie. I am sharing an easy pork pie for you to try.

• 1 1/2 pounds ground pork• 1 large baking potato

• 1 large onion, minced• 1/2 teaspoon each salt & ground pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

• Dash of ground allspice• 1/2 cup stock or water

• 2 pie crust for a 9” double crust deep dish

• 1 egg• 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)

Bake potato in 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or you can microwave the potato. Peel and mash potato. Place the potato, ground pork and other ingredients (except pastry, paprika and egg) together. Simmer in a large frying pan for approximately one hour, until it thickens. In a 9” deep dish pie plate lined with one of the crusts, add in the meat & potato mixture and even the mixture out. Carefully cover with top crust – crimp edges. Brush with beaten egg wash and sprinkle with paprika. Cut seam vent in top and bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. If edges are getting too brown cover edges with strips of foil or pie guards.

CELELBRATE LIFE EVERY DAY!Let me hear from you: Search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking as well as for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.”

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