Guest Chick Monday – Finales d’or de Coeur Aislinn Macnamara

First a shout out to our men and woman in uniform, past and present, this Memorial Day. This Chick’s thoughts are with you today.

And okay, my online translator says my title means Golden Heart Finalist.  I don’t think I believe it.  Regardless, please help me welcome Aislinn Macnamara, a historical romance author who considers writing her mid-life crisis. She reckons it’s a lot less trouble than buying a sports car, getting plastic surgery or turning her husband in for a younger model. Her manuscript A TALE OF TWO SISTERS is a finalist in the Regency category of the 2011 Golden Heart contest. You can find her at her website:

Qui prend mari prend pays.

Loosely translated, this French expression means take a husband and his country comes with him. In my case, this was definitely true when I married into a French Canadian family. I had to rethink a lot of my mother’s style of cooking to adapt to my husband’s tastes.

Before we go too far, let me just say it works in both directions. When I met my husband, he was afraid to try anything ethnic. He thought Greek food was a real culinary adventure, and he was afraid of going for Chinese in case he ended up eating cat meat. When I finally convinced him to try it, he played it safe with pepper steak. He’s come a long way in nearly 25 years.

The recipe in French

But in the beginning of our marriage I heard a lot of “that’s not the way my mother does it,” to which I may have replied, “I’m not your mother.”

In a sense, he was right, of course. His mother does things differently from my mother, some of it unique, a lot of it typically French Canadian. In his family, they looked at me funny because I ate my pie plain. They couldn’t conceive of having pie without adding a scoop of ice cream on it, or pouring heavy cream over the slice. They never heard of having just a dish of ice cream for dessert—you had to pour fudge sauce over it and turn it into  a sundae, or at least have cookies with it.

So what characterizes the typical French Canadian taste? This is the land where poutine was invented, after all. For the uninitiated, poutine is basically a heart attack waiting to happen. It’s a dish of French fries slathered in gravy and dotted with cheese curds. It exists in various permutations. La poutine italienne substitutes spaghetti sauce for the gravy, for example. I’m not a fan, myself, and my personal theory is that poutine is best experienced drunk at 3 AM (that’s when the bars close in Montreal—we take our drinking seriously here, too).

Lest you think we’re all low-brow here, we’re also keen on our fine cheeses. One of the best in the world is Cendrillon (that’s Cinderella’s name in French), and it’s made with, well, cinders. It’s also quite excellent. When the Canadian government tried to institute a ban on cheese made with unpasteurized milk, protests were heard far and wide in this province. Quebeckers had been eating the stuff for years, and the government could darned well keep its collective nose out of their cheese.

But possibly the best known French Canadian trait is a healthy sweet tooth. Every year, people celebrate the maple syrup season by going sugaring off. This involved carting the family out to the country for hay rides, treks through the snow (hip flask for the adults optional), eating sugar-on-snow candy, and consuming a meal of ham, eggs, fried potatoes, and baked beans all drowning in maple syrup.

And for dessert? A common one from the sugar shack is pouding chômeur. I’m not sure how to translate that one. Idle pudding, perhaps. The word chômeur typically refers to an unemployed person. The following is my mother-in-law’s recipe. Doubtless, the sugar shack version has maple syrup in the sauce.


Pouding Chômeur

1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
½ cup milk

In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water and 1 tablespoon butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer 3 minutes. Set aside.

Ready to eat!

Cream 3 tablespoons butter with the sugar. Mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Spread the dough in a 9×9-inch square cake pan. Pour the sauce mixture over top and let rest a few minutes. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Serve warm.

So what about you, readers? Does your spouse compare your cooking to Mom’s and what do you have to say about it? Or was Mom the complete opposite of Julia Childs? Any special recipes that were handed down to you from the family tree?


29 thoughts on “Guest Chick Monday – Finales d’or de Coeur Aislinn Macnamara

    • *laugh* Yeah, that’s quite a typo. I fixed it.

      Usually I don’t make foods whose name I can’t pronounce, but I think I’m going to make an exception for this one. Sugary goodness, YUM.

      • Thank you for fixing it. I was all how the heck did I do that, but sometimes it’s best not to ask these things.

  1. My husband is alway grateful I don’t cook like his mother! He didn’t like so many things when we first married because she cooked everything into the ground or just didn’t have a clue—like egg plant. It took years to get him to try egg plant parm because his mom neglected the salt and press step. Although they tell me newer varieties of egg plant don’t need that step, I still do it. Old habits die hard. *G*

    • Unfortunately, my hubby’s mom is an excellent chef. *sigh* I think he’s finally lowered his expectations. 🙂

    • I rarely make anything with eggplant, because that whole salting deal is so fiddly. Plus my picky kids look at it and go EWWWW. You’re making me hungry for some good eggplant parmesan, though.

  2. Congrats, Aislinn, on the Regency Golden Heart final!!

    Your post has me craving ham with maple syrup on it….

    Fortunately, I married a guy whose mom never cooked much, so everything I do seems impressive (LOL)! As long as there’s lots of food and some good crusty bread on the table, all is bliss.

    Good luck at Nationals, and enjoy the heck out of the rest of your Golden Heart season!

    • Ham with maple syrup is yummy, but you have to have the real thing. And oh yes, hot, fresh crusty bread with real butter… No one can tell I’m trying to lose a few pounds for my GH dress, can they?

  3. Our marriage kitchen started out similarly to yours, Aislinn, except Mr. Ava’s mom cooked most stuff from scratch, or out of their garden, or fresh from the water, or frash from the woods (avid hunters, my in-laws). My mother was a single mom who often worked late, so I learned how to cook (most things) from directions on the back of a box. I’m happy to say that I’ve adapted closer to the fresh side of things, but I don’t think he ever expected me to come up to the cooking caliber of his mother (some things are just pipe dreams!)
    Can’t wait to meet you in NY! La La La!

    • Yeah, how do you compete with that? Especially the fresh meat.

      I’d love to have a vegetable garden, but it’s too darn hot!

    • My mom was the same way. She always had a garden when I was growing up, and she did a lot of canning. Made her own ketchup out of the abundance of tomatoes. Made her own relish, although I think a lot of that green was actually green tomatoes, not cucumbers. Alas, I do not have the patience she did at pulling weeds.

  4. O My Gosh, Aislinn, I gained ten pounds just reading the blog and recipe. LOL
    Congrats again on the GH Final. That’s quite a feat.
    Have a great time in NY. La La La!

  5. Hi Aislinn,

    My mother was Italian, which means I grew up eating pasta and sauce made from scratch. Needless to say, Mom was none to pleased by my fondness for sauce from the jar and pre-made frozen meatballs on busy weeknights. I do like to dabble in cooking from time to time, but I differ greatly from both my mom and my husband’s mom. I’m a recipe follower…I measure twice, pour once…you get the idea…where my mom and mom-in-law were both eyeball it kind-of cooks. I think it stems from my complete and utter lack of confidence in the kitchen. I also prefer baking to any other form of cooking. I attribute this to my terrible lack of patience and tendency to be distracted by other things…like writing ; )

    Love the dessert recipe, though I agree…think I’ve gained a few pounds just looking at it. 🙂 May try it when I’m more adventurous!


      • Ooh, yummy pasta sauce from scratch! You should post your Mom’s recipe.

    • My mother and MIL were always both staunch recipe followers. Nothing wrong with it. Any my mom taught me to be the same way, especially with baking, but I’ve rarely had a cake fail on me. When I’m feeling rebellious, I’ll measure spices in my hand rather than using a teaspoon.

  6. Hi Aislinn,

    Great post! When I met my husband I learned two things right away, 1. he was an excellent cook and 2. he learned it all from his mother.

    That would have been intimating for me to try to live up to, if not for the fact he loves to cook. Still, I take note of recipes like yours for those nights when I want to wow him with some recipe he hasn’t tried yet.


    Can’t wait to see you in NYC! LaLaLa!

    • My MIL is an excellent cook. God, Christmas dinner at her house was to die for, possibly literally. We spent hours at the table, and it was never complete unless she had at least five dessert choices. And she’d always insist you had more than one!

      Unfortunately if anyone in our family has to live up to that, it’s me, because my husband can just about boil water and that’s it. He’ll make the kids Kraft dinner on occasion, and they think it’s the best!

  7. Hi Aislinn! I think I gained weight reading the blog too! LOL. I taught myself to cook pretty much–through trial and lots of ahem, overdone meals that I blamed on a bad oven. These days I’m enjoying cooking with fresh ingredients and olive oil, onion and garlic and well, trying new things. My M-I-L owned a bakery so she had the market on baked items pretty much. Thanks for the recipe–sounds heavenly! Enjoy the GH finalist bliss! Enjoyed your post. Hugs –lala sis!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story and recipe with us! And congratulations on your Golden Heart final!!! Good luck in New York and have tons of fun!

    Your Pouding Chômeur looks like it might need a plop of ice cream on it. 😉 Seriously, I’m going to give this dessert a try, but I wonder if I can substitute Splenda for the real sugar? Do you think it would ruin it?

    • I don’t know about the Splenda. My husband is a firm beliver in “if it’s low fat, it’s low taste.” I know, Splenda has nothing to do with the fat, but it’s the same principle. You might get away with it in the base part, because there’s not so much sugar (relatively speaking) there, but I’m not sure you can get away with substitues for the brown sugar in the sauce, and that’s the real tooth-achingly sweet part.

      You know, a dab of vanilla ice cream might just mitigate some of the sweetness.

    • Kind of like ‘pudding’ in English, only the first syllable sounds more like a long U and the accent almost always goes on the final syllable in French. Then ‘show-MER’ (where the mer sounds like the start of mermaid). Sort of. Poo-DING show-MER.

  9. Pingback: “That’s not how my mom makes it!” | Chicklets in the Kitchen

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