Nancy Halpin, Artist And Chef

By Susan Hallett Created: November 19, 2012 Last Updated: November 22, 2012
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Nancy Halpin and her mother Jeannette Halpin. (Barry Engelhardt)

Nancy Halpin and her mother Jeannette Halpin. (Barry Engelhardt)

Nancy Halpin’s engaging photoworks are on view at the Nepean Visual Arts Centre at Ottawa’s Centrepointe Theatre Gallery until Nov. 28, 2012. I met Nancy over lunch and learned that her impressionistic photos are taken from a moving vehicle. This technique gives her images an ethereal and otherworldly look. I also learned that she loves to cook.

Nancy makes use of what British psychiatrist Anthony Storr (1920 to 2001) called “the playground of the imagination”, using her imagination and creativity to “play” with what she photographs. Her engaging photoworks depict her awareness of the beauties of the world around us.

Nancy and her mother often cook together. The recipes here are from Nancy’s grandmother and give us a very traditional peek into French Canadian Christmas fare.

Tourtiere and catsup in front  of Nancy Halpin’s framed photograph, called “Dreams of Red”. (Nancy Halpin )

Tourtiere and catsup in front  of Nancy Halpin’s framed photograph, called “Dreams of Red”. (Nancy Halpin )



Makes two 23 cm (9-inch) pies

1 L (4 cups) flour
10 mL (2 tsp) salt
500 g (1 lb) vegetable shortening or lard
1 egg
25 mL (2 tbsp) vinegar

Mix flour and salt together in large bowl. Use pastry cutter to combine shortening with flour until mixture is size of crumbs.

Break egg into a measuring cup. Add vinegar to egg and mix. Add enough water to create 1 cup of liquid.

Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and combine to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Tourtière Filling:
1.36 kilos (3 lbs) medium ground pork
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 mL (1 tbsp) salt
5 mL (1 tsp) ground cloves
5 mL (1 tsp) ground allspice

Put all of the ingredients into a large pot with enough water to barely cover the meat. Simmer on stove, stirring frequently until cooked. (Let meat mixture cool a little before putting into pie crust.)

Roll out pastry on well floured board and put into a 23 cm (9-inch) pie plate. Trim excess pastry dough.

Fill pie with half the meat mixture using some of the liquid to ensure pie will be moist. Cover with pastry that has a few gashes for steam to escape. Press to seal. Flute edges and cut off excess pastry.

Bake in oven at 200º C (400º F) for approximately 35 to 40 minutes or until golden.

Nanny’s Red Tomato Catsup

4 L (4 quarts) tomatoes
1 L (4 cups) diced celery
750 mL (3 cups) chopped onions
500 mL (2 cups) vinegar
500 mL (2 cups) sugar
40 mL (3 tbsp) coarse salt
50 mL (2 heaping tbsp) mixed pickling spice, tied in cheesecloth.

Scald tomatoes; peel; cut into quarters and put in a large pot on stove. Simmer gently to release water. Drain.

Add rest of ingredients. Simmer for approximately 2 hours until catsup has thickened.

Pour into sterilized jars and refrigerate.

Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tidings and Doctor’s Review among many others. Email:

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