Our Annual SPCA Christmas Eve Day

Storm and John

Storm and John (John Mallory Fitness) remind us that a happy dog is an adopted dog and without the Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue animals like him would be without a friend.

It’s Christmas Eve day (24th), and we’re doing our annual thing (maybe our seventh year): Have a few friends and regular customers volunteer to be our servers as we give our staff some time off. They’re on the floor now till 3:00.

AND as they give serving a try, we’ll donate ALL the tips to one of our favourite charities — The Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue — fabulous people doing wonderful work. Our owner Liz and her husband John are big SPCA supporters, as is owner Gord, who has made significant donations to the cause.

Liz and John have made adoptions over the last few years: Whiskers (a cat), their beautiful dogs, Storm and Bear. They are hugely grateful for the work the SPCA does, their dedicated staff, the enthusiastic volunteers and everyone in Saint John that has adopted and given an animal a home. Kudos to everyone!

We hope we can send something their way today through the tips and donations. If you’re in the Uptown, drop in for a bite or just to say hello. Any donation you care to make will be gratefully accepted and keep in mind, any tip you give goes to the Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue.

We hope to see you!






Our Annual SPCA Christmas Eve Day Event

From our 2014 annual SPCA event

From a previous year’s event, our SPCA day at the Deli.

On Thursday, Christmas Eve day (24th), Urban Deli is going to do what we do every year (we think it’s our sixth year): Have a few friends and regular customers volunteer to be our servers as we give our staff some time off. They’ll be on the floor starting at 11:30am until we close at 3:00.

AND as they give serving a try, we’ll also donate ALL the tips to one of our favourite charities — The Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue. They’re great people doing wonderful work. Our owner Liz and her husband John are big SPCA supporters, as is owner Gord, who has made significant donations to the cause.

Liz and John have adopted a cat (Whiskers) and two beautiful dogs, Storm and Bear. They are tremendously grateful for the work the SPCA does, their dedicated staff, the enthusiastic volunteers and everyone in Saint John that has adopted and given an animal a home. Kudos to all of you!

Thursday we hope we can send something their way through the tips, from our opening at 11:30am to close at 3:00pm.

If you’re in the Uptown Thursday, drop in for a bite or just to say hello. Any donation you care to make will be gratefully accepted and keep in mind, any tip you give goes to the Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue.

We hope to see you!

One last thing…For our holiday hours, please see our hours page. Oh, and here are Liz and John’s adoptees:





Whiskers, adopted from the Saint John SPCA a couple of years ago.



The Weekend Nip – A Maritime Story

(This is a reminiscence by Margaret Harriman about her father and his love of a ‘nip’ on the weekend, a very New Brunswick story.)

My father was a quiet man; a carpenter by trade, and a window and furniture maker by hobby. He could draw a floor plan on a piece of paper and build it, ground up. Yet he couldn’t read, he was unilingual, and the tools of today hadn’t been invented yet; but by word of mouth, he was in demand.

Ad for Teacher's Highland Cream (aka 'The Nip')

Ad for Teacher’s Highland Cream (aka ‘The Nip’)

In the 1950’s, there was no unemployment insurance, so more than half of his seasonal earnings had to be put aside for the winter. While Mother was the spender, Father was a saver, keeping only enough for a ‘nip’ on the week-end.

It had been a standing order in our house that when father had a ‘nip’ on Saturday, then clam chowder would be made. Depending on the degree of ‘nipping’ our main fare would normally be beans, pork chops, and pancakes. Father always made the pancakes. But, when he couldn’t flip because of the nip, we would have clam chowder.

One Saturday night, about two hours after he had already eaten, he asked when supper was going to be ready, “I’m damn near starved!” Mother fumed. Out came the clam chowder for the second time since the five-o’clock-on-the-dot serving.

You see, Father gave clam chowder clues that he knew nothing about: if he headed straight to the basement when he came home, he had bought his nip; if he held his arm close to his body, he had bought a bigger nip.

Either way, the nip was stashed in his secret place, a large grey crock, covered with two pieces of clapboard, under the bench in his workshop. But if Mother was within earshot of the clamor he made, he would stash it in his sawdust bin, where the Sussex Ginger Ale – another glass bottle – was in good supply.

If he got away clean, it really didn’t matter; the minute he took his first nip, his nose got red. When I was little, I believed he was really Santa. He was the only one who had a workshop where we lived, he made my toys, and he had a red nose sometimes. As for his having no beard, I believed he grew it Christmas Eve.

By the time Father came up from his quick trip to the basement, Mother would be peeling the potatoes for chowder. And that’s what she had done, once again, on this particular Saturday.

While the chowder reheated, she set his place at the table. The bowls we used in those days were shallow and had a wide edge. I always found them handy to hide bread crusts under. Father liked them, he said, because things cooled off faster in a bowl like that. Anyway, with a bit of a tilt, and a lot of tipsy, Father made his way to the table.

He sat down, looked at me and started to giggle, “You got no supper neither?”

When Mother set the bowl of chowder in front of him, the thud was so loud, I’m sure I heard the metal rattle on the chrome table. Father paid no mind and proceeded to pepper his chowder until it was blacker than it was white.

Mother beckoned me to follow her to the basement. She was planning a nip raid! One thing about Father, he would never have stood for a tell-tale squeaky board anywhere, so our descent to the basement was an easy one. Nonetheless, Mother made the whole trip on tip toes all the way into the workshop. She was sneaking up on the nip, and by threat of ‘the look’, I mimicked her every move.

'The Nip' - Teacher's Highland Cream

‘The Nip’ – Teacher’s Highland Cream

She went right for the crock. And there it was – the remainder of a quart of Scotch.

I watched her as she eased it out, and followed her, on tip toe, to the laundry room. She took the top off the bottle and with the tap in the set tub, turned on just a little faster than an eye dropper, she proceeded to put water in Father’s quart of nip. “He’ll never know the difference,” she whispered, as we made the tip toe trip back to the crock.

“Sh-h-h” she warned, as she laid back the bottle into the crock, replaced the two pieces of clapboard, and wiped her hands on her apron.

We were tip toeing back up the stairs when we began hearing a noise, a mumble of sorts, that repeated itself. We continued with stealth along the hallway to the kitchen. We peeked around the door casing and there was my father, sound asleep in his bowl of clam chowder. He was snoring, and every time he exhaled, his lips flapped, causing white, black dotted chowder waves that made his red bulbous nose look like a floating buoy.

Mother was right; he never knew the difference.

Written by Margaret Harriman

More to Come

We thought it would be interesting to have a look at the chowder recipe ‘Mother’ used, maybe have a look at the Urban Deli chowder, and take a look at how many people today (and yesterday) have their “secret ingredients.” We may even see if we can’t track down a bit of the history of chowder. (Although there will certainly be differing views of this.) 

So keep an eye out in the days to come for a follow-up. And also keep an eye open for more Maritime stories from Margaret Harriman. 🙂



Six Years Later, Still Going Strong

We’ve put another year under our belt – we’re six years old today! We opened Urban Deli on July 13, 2009. And we’ve had a blast ever since making and serving the delights on our menu, catering, and being a part of the great Uptown Saint John community.

Meeting the people of our city is one of the best parts of being here. So may characters! So many stories! So many delightful people! It really is a thrill.

There is always a grocery list’s worth of people to say thank you to but to make a small dent we want to send a huge thanks to our fabulous staff, the tremendous vendors and suppliers we get to work with and, of course, our fabulous customers.

“Thank you Saint John,” doesn’t come close to saying how grateful we are to the Port City but, thank you Saint John!

Urban Deli in Uptown Saint John

Urban Deli in Uptown Saint John


Creamy Raisin Rice Pudding Recipe

On Monday I wrote a post about some of my favourite nostalgic childhood foods. I promised to try the rice pudding recipe from my mother and report back, keeping in mind that the last time I had this recipe was 35 plus years ago! So, I made it.

The house smelled great and I couldn’t be happier with the results!

Tasting it was EXACTLY as I remember it as a child. The creamy custard-like topping from the eggs, sugar and vanilla is the key – my blast to the past!

(See more, including the recipe, below the pic.)

Creamy Raisin Rice Pudding

Creamy Raisin Rice Pudding

Some like to pour milk on top when it comes out of the oven, but not me. Eat it warm. The hard part was saving some for others.

Speaking of others, I was so excited that it turned out I wanted others to share in my excitement. Others, like my husband who returned home while I was out.

With enthusiasm and eagerness in my voice like a kid at Christmas, I called to tell him that I had just made the rice pudding from my childhood years and it was on the stove. There was laughter in his voice as he said, “I know!”

I immediately asked what was so funny, thinking that he ate most of it because it was so friggin’ good. He said, “I don’t like rice pudding.” My heart sank.

Well, I brushed off my bruised ego of enthusiasm and then took some rice pudding to my business partner Gord’s house for dessert after dinner. He said, “I don’t like rice pudding.”

OMG. Is there anyone who likes it?

So, I brought it into work. With 10 people on staff, finally it was eaten.

What did I learn?

The majority of people I know don’t like rice pudding, bread pudding, or tapioca.

Not everybody gets excited about all foods like I do. (Remember that I ate worm poop in Italy two years ago.)

I eat everything and when I meet fussy or discerning eaters, I don’t get it. I hope you give it a try (if you like rice pudding). Or give it to someone who does.

One substitute for me: All I had was brown rice, which I made but then decided not to use it. Searching my cupboards I found Carnaroli rice in my cupboard. It’s the same as arborio rice or better known as ‘the caviar of rice’…who knew?

Creamy Raisin Rice Pudding

by: Margaret Harriman


  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 3 cups milk (370 ml can of Carnation Evaporated Milk + 1.5 cups water)
  • 1 Tbsp. margarine
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg (I personally prefer cinnamon)


  1. Place raisins and cooked rice in buttered deep dish.
  2. Heat milk and margarine to scalding.
  3. Lightly beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and stir into heated milk.
  4. Then pour over raisins and rice. (do not stir)
  5. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cover with lid.
  6. Set dish in shallow pan surrounded with hot water.
  7. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

(This could easily feed 10 for dessert after a meal.)

(This post written by Liz.)


Childhood Memories of Food (Maritime Edition)

Customers often ask if they can have the recipe for one of our Deli menu items. I’ve received emails from as far away as England and Australia for a recipe. People usually want comfort food dishes like our meatloaf sandwich. Our meatloaf sandwich simply stated is comfort food. It’s food you crave.

As I thought about comfort food I began to also think about some of my childhood comfort foods.

I remember leaving home as a young adult and returning for visits. My mother would ask me if there was anything I wanted.

Aurora Diced Tomatoes

I always said macaroni, which meant macaroni, ground beef and canned diced tomatoes. I’m not even sure if there is a ‘technical’ recipe name for this dish.

Do you recall how something just tastes better based on the atmosphere it is consumed in? My macaroni always tasted better at home.

My husband likes me to add a can of tomato soup but what I’ve come to learn is if you use a good canned tomato like Aurora diced tomatoes you don’t need the tomato soup. (Aurora tomatoes can be bought at Sister’s in our City Market…go see Di).

Another one of those childhood favourites was rice pudding. I remember eating rice pudding as if I was a contestant in a food eating contest because there were five kids at home and nothing lasted long.

A friend of ours, Kristin, remembers, “After church on Sundays we used to go the Riviera Restaurant in Saint John for a coke and rice pudding.” Sadly, the Riviera was lost in a gas explosion in April, 1986.

April 1986 - Saint John Gasoline Explosions

April 1986 – Saint John Gasoline Explosions

I’ve tried rice pudding brands from places like Costco but I don’t get those fleeting childhood memories. Not even close. So a couple of weeks ago I asked my mother for the recipe she used to make for us.

Carnation MilkIt came as no surprise that there was Carnation Evaporated Milk in the recipe because that alone is a childhood memory. Who in my old hood doesn’t remember giant bags of puffed wheats and Carnation Evaporated Milk in the cupboard?

(The powered milk sat beside the puffed wheats and on the label it read ‘from contented cows.’)

I am making the rice pudding recipe she gave me today and I will post on the results. It’s been over 35 years since eating this particular dish from my mother. I can’t wait!

More childhood foods that bring back memories

  • Salted fish, boiled and drained a couple of times, Carnation Evaporated Milk added to the final round of fish water, then spooned over mashed potatoes with yellow and/or green beans
  • Cream peas and/or tuna on toast – hahaha
  • Red Rose Figurines

    Red Rose Figurines

    Red Rose tea with the animal figurines in the box

  • White peppermints – My grandmother use to hide them in her top drawer. I was her favourite so she would take me in her bedroom and sneak me one on every visit and tell me not to tell my siblings 🙂 (She was Elizabeth, my namesake.)
  • Overcooked roasts (plus mushy peas from a can)
  • Fondues – They were a treat in the 70’s.
  • Puffed wheats
  • Milk in glass bottles delivered from the milkman (rare for us)
  • Eggs in the hole
  • Ben’s white bread
  • Potato pancakes (with apple sauce!)
  • Beans and wieners
  • Kraft Pizza Kit (in a box) – I bought one for nostalgic reasons and will make it soon. (Our friend Kristin recalls cut up wieners being put on the pizzas.)
  • Divinity Fudge
  • Pop Rocks
  • Stew – Omg….I use to drink a glass of water for every bite of the vegetables in the stew, especially turnips. Hated it. Now, vegetables are my favourite items on my plate.
  • Chicken fricot with dumplings (love, love, love dumplings)
  • Biscuits – I recall them being made in mere minutes using the Tupperware rolling pin that you filled with water and a big plastic sheet also, from Tupperware, for rolling them out on. It actually had the biscuit recipe on the sheet.
  • Birthday cakes with a quarter in them – Whoever got that piece was the old maid /man. Hilarious when you think about it in today’s world.

What are your childhood food memories?

Better still, if you have a dish that you want to challenge us to make, send us your recipe (or add it to the comments below) with the childhood memory it stirs. If you live in Saint John, we are more than happy to invite you over to test our take on your recipe.

We’ll give your recipe a try and share it with you on our Blog. And yes, of course we’ll give you the credit 🙂

(This post written by Liz.)


Smiles, Volunteers and the Saint John SPCA

On Christmas Eve day we had our annual fundraiser for the Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue and it was a fabulous day! We had our volunteers in the Deli wearing big smiles and hustling and bustling and helping us to raise $810 through tips and donations! And in just a little over three hours!

We want to send a big thank you to all our volunteers and to our wonderful customers who helped us raise funds for one of our favourite causes. The pictures are below of a truly fun day filled with the spirit of the season. Thank you everyone!