Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Mysteries #1: Still Life at the Cornell House

It's always wonderful when you stumble upon a place you never knew about when you've been living in a particular city your whole life. Recently, we discovered the Cornell House. As much as I like mid-century vintage design, I love pioneer times: the smell of burning wood, cinnamon, candles. I also love the way everything was made by hand. I could live in this house.
The Cornell House dates back to 1858. It was built on Markham Road in Scarborough (part of the greater Toronto area in the east end). It was moved to Thomson Park in the early sixties where it now sits as a pioneer museum. If you live in Toronto, Thomson Park is on Brimley.
Dig the plank walkway. Even though the house is very much pioneer-style, the planks give it a wild west feeling.
The McCowan log house.
Outhouse in the snow.

Above and below: frozen in time treasures in the work shed.

Below: Furniture and object d'art from the Cornell House.

The Cornell House is also the Scarborough Historic Museum. Volunteers dressed in period costume were handing out cheese straws as well as the recipe for how to make them. Scroll down to find out more.
You'll need 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda (I'd use less baking soda and salt next time), 1 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon of dry mustard (I left this out), 3 tablespoons of butter, 2 cups of grated sharp cheddar, 1 egg, and 5 tablespoons of cold water. Preheat oven to 425, mix dry ingredients together until it has a "breadcrumb" consistency. Add wet ingredients. We put the cheese in last. I'd even say that you could use 1 1/2 cups of cheddar and they'd still be cheesy.
The cheese straws they gave us at the Cornell House were shaped like crescent moons. My mother confirmed that they are supposed to be straw-shaped, so I got my palms a-rolling.
Here's the cheesy dough.
Because of all the grated cheese, it was hard to get perfectly rounded shapes. Duncan even made a cheese "snail" and an arrow. I like the rustic down home look.
And here they are. If you like scones, you'll enjoy these.


  1. What a beautiful little house- loving the quilts! Cheese straws are my speciality, but my version is nothing like that recipe. Mmmm yum yum cheeeeeeeesse xx

  2. Such a gorgeous little house! I love discovering new places. I've never tried cheese straws before - I might just have to try. They look yummy :)

  3. What a great house. I too love visiting old houses, I like to feel transported back in time and try to imagine what life was back then. I have mixed feelings about it: while I appreciate the fact that they were simpler times, the people worked a lot harder and had a lot less comfort!


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I'm a slightly off-beat Toronto-area teacher who enjoys writing and photography. I come from a family of collectors and now I'm dragging my own family around to yard sales. It's just a bit of fun. Enjoy the scenes.