CBC's Feed A Family asked New Brunswickers for their favourite family recipes

·5 min read
Every year Anthony Bielecki and his family get together around Christmastime to make 100 Polish sausages in his backyard, just like his grandfather used to. (Anthony Bielecki - image credit)
Every year Anthony Bielecki and his family get together around Christmastime to make 100 Polish sausages in his backyard, just like his grandfather used to. (Anthony Bielecki - image credit)

Every year, Information Morning Fredericton shines a light on the Feed a Family campaign, raising donations for food banks in Fredericton, Oromocto, Woodstock and beyond.

The goal of the 2021 campaign is to support 2,570 families in the community who rely on the food bank.

On top of the donation campaign, the show put a question to the audience this year: How do you feed your family?

The morning show asked audiences to think about the special recipes in their family that tell a story. The response was a mixture of childhood memories, trial-and-error experimentation and mouth-watering dishes.

Over the course of the three-week campaign, host Jeanne Armstrong spoke to audience members about everything from homemade German egg nog to Syrian eggplant casserole. CBC NB has compiled all of the collected recipes into a pdf below.

Here are excerpts of some of the stories that stood out.

Chinese spring rolls, with a Fredericton twist

On an average Saturday morning, Leiyan Ma's stall at the Fredericton Farmer's Market has a long lineup of customers. She has been running Kang's Chinese Food stall for more than 20 years, and all that time the menu has remained the same: pork sticks, stir fried noodles, deep fried wontons and, of course, spring rolls.

"The [spring roll] recipe has changed very little during the last 20 years," says Jeff Kang, Ma's son and occasional helper at the market stall.

"However, it went through many changes in the early days with experimentation to preserve traditional Chinese flavours and the mouth feel — a signature crunch — while using ingredients commonly available in Canada."

When Ma's family first moved to Canada in the 1990s, they lived in Vancouver, and then Toronto, before moving to Fredericton.

Leiyan Ma
Leiyan Ma

Kang says that move came with its own culture shock, because there wasn't much of a Chinese community or food culture in Fredericton back then.

"People would drive from here to Montreal or Toronto to buy Chinese food and drive the 13 hours back with soy sauce in the car. It's a different time now, but not then," Kang says.

Kang says his mom tried as many as 20 different spring roll recipes with available ingredients (the turnip and potato versions were not a hit) until Ma landed on the winner.

"Finally, we changed it to the cabbage," she says.

Ma says she loves seeing customers at the farmer's market that she remembers serving as kids, who come back now with children of their own. She hopes Frederictonians will enjoy making the spring roll recipe as much as she enjoys serving it.

"If people like it, just take it. I don't mind. I hope they like [it]."

A beloved fruitcake recipe, picked up by a stranger

Don Flatt says no fruitcake will ever be as good as his mom's recipe. His mother, Donna Mae Flatt, called it "Very Good Christmas Cake," and made it every year.

"The funny thing is, my mother's birthday was Christmas Eve. She did all the baking, all the cooking, ran everything, on her birthday. The sad thing is when my mom stopped holding those parties, no one picked up the mantle," said Flatt, who also works with CBC New Brunswick.

Donna Mae Flatt died in 2011. And when she did, her children printed out her fruitcake recipe on a card at her funeral, for people to take home and try for themselves.

When Don Flatt's sister Cathy went on a cross-Canada road trip, she decided to leave the recipe card in different spots that had meaning to their mother throughout her life. One of the places was Sudbury, Ont., where the Flatt family had lived briefly.

Don Flatt
Don Flatt

"My sister stopped and took out one of the cards and put it on the base of the [Welcome to Sudbury] sign, and didn't think anything of it," Flatt says.

Several years later, the family got a message from a stranger on social media.

"This woman went on to say they had moved to Sudbury and stopped to take a picture at the Welcome sign, and looked down, found the card, and made the recipe and wanted to reach out to the family to send condolences, and to say it was the best Christmas cake they'd ever had. … it just blew my mind," Flatt says.

Flatt now wonders if his mother's cake is now part of the stranger's Christmas tradition now. And now, he's pleased a lot more New Brunswickers will get to enjoy the recipe, too.

A 100-year-old recipe from Poland, still going strong

Anthony Bielecki lives in Douglas Harbour and says it was 100 years ago that his grandfather, Stefan Bielecki came to settle in Minto, N.B. from Poland.

But Anthony Bielecki says his grandfather almost ended up in the wrong province. Stefan Bielecki's brother had already settled in Minto and persuaded Stefan to move there, too.

"My grandfather was on his way to Minto, Manitoba, actually. And somehow, I'm not sure the exact story, but my great uncle was able to intercept him in Montreal and bring him to Minto, New Brunswick," Bielecki says.

Eventually, Stefan Bielecki settled into his new life in Minto, and started making smoked sausages. It's a tradition he passed down to his son, Henry Bielecki. But when Anthony's father died, the recipe died with him. So Anthony had to recreate the sausages from scratch.

Anthony Bielecki
Anthony Bielecki

Now, every year, Bielecki and his family get together around Christmastime to prepare, case and smoke 100 Polish sausages in his backyard, just like his grandfather used to.

Bielecki says it's heartening to see five generations of Bieleckis enjoying the sausage tradition.

"It's important when you get further and further away from your roots that you understand, you know, there is a history there… I think it's good for the younger generation, really, to appreciate that, and to know that we come from something."

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