Imagine yourself in the kitchen of the farmhouse at London Farm in the early part of the last century, thinking about a nice treat for your cook to bake for the family. You go through your favourite cookbook and voila, you find a healthy, yet simple recipe for hermit cookies.
This is what Hetty London, wife of pioneer farmer Charles London, might have done using her “Woman’s Favorite Cook Book”, published in 1902, and found with old records of the London family now in the holdings of the City of Richmond Archives.
Charles London and his brother William purchased land in the South Arm district of Richmond in the 1880s, the area taking on the name of “London”. After their marriage, Charles and his wife Henrietta (Hetty) built their farmhouse, where they raised a family of eight children (three of whom died as infants.) In 1978, the farmhouse was designated as a heritage site and the next year was purchased by the municipality to be restored as a heritage property.
The recipe for “hermits” found in Mrs. London’s old cookbook was particularly appealing to Precilla Huang, professional pastry chef and Board member of the Friends of the Richmond Archives, because it represented simpler times and the use of wholesome ingredients.
The result of Precilla’s baking was a tasty drop cookie, not too sweet but rich with buttermilk and lightly spiced with a hint of nutmeg.
Imagine the fragrance of the batch of cookies coming out of the oven, and the enjoyment they would have brought to the London family and guests.