Cookbook keeps flood victim's memory alive
Flood 2013: Husband continues his wife's dreams
By: By Jenica Foster
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 06:00 am
For a foothills man left a widow when his wife died in the June flooding there are only memories left, the memory of his wife creating new recipes, or the smell of his favourite treat fresh from the oven.
Scott Rancourt will always remember his wife’s passion in the kitchen.
“For somebody that had never gone to culinary school or anything like that, she would have put a lot to shame because she put passion and love into everything that she cooked,” Scott said.
Rancourt’s wife Amber died at only 35 years old in the June 20 flood.
The couple was spending the weekend at a friend’s ranch south of Longview when flash flooding trapped the couple. He said Amber wanted to save their horse, Diesel, and knowing his wife’s passion for animals he complied.
“I said, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be okay,’ and that was the last thing I ever said to her,” he said.
Scott carried out Amber’s wish and saved the horse, but his wife didn’t make it. He said her body was found in the trees near their camping spot.
“My fiery redheaded angel was my wife, lover and the best friend I have ever had and I will always be her grub-bug husband,” Scott said in Amber’s eulogy. “I realize that some of Amber’s dreams will never come true for her to witness, but I do plan on continuing the horse rescue ranch and selling her cookbook to benefit the horses.”
Scott is carrying on his wife’s work and passion for food and horses selling a cookbook she wrote to support organizations working to protect animals and local charities.
The kitchen was her element. Scott said she was very experimental, but surprisingly never messy. Scott said he was the resident taste-tester.
Amber’s love of cooking stemmed from her father and two grandmothers. She learned many techniques by watching them closely make recipes like her grandmother’s heavenly pineapple salad and her father’s turkey stuffing. After honing her cooking skills, she said she just couldn’t keep her creations to herself, especially her strawberry pizza.
“Every time I have taken this dessert to a function I am asked for the recipe,” she wrote in her cookbook. “I’ve always kept it a secret and finally shared it with a good friend a couple years ago. It was then I decided, why keep something so good a secret!”
Amber’s love of cooking was supplemental to her love of animals. Scott said she grew up around horses in northern Ontario, but her desire to help them started when she took a trip back to Ontario last July. Her horse, Diesel, had been severely malnourished, weighing in at only 950 pounds when he should have been around 2000 pounds.
Scott said Amber was shocked at the cruelty and contacted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), who rescued 42 other horses that were in the same condition. Amber organized a fundraiser for the Ontario SPCA in September, but he said she felt it wasn’t enough.
In October of last year, Amber started working on her cookbook and was able to put them in stores by the middle of June. Amber and Scott had planned to register their place in Longview as the Lost Soul Ranch to honour the animals they had rescued, including their horse, dog and eight cats. Then the flood hit.
Scott said he still intends to carry out his wife’s dream. He ordered another 400. One dollar from every cookbook will be donated to horse rescue foundations. Scott said to start he will make a donation in Amber’s name to the Ontario SPCA, but afterwards the money will go towards local charities.
Amber would do anything for others, Scott said. Nothing would stop her from helping someone she cared about if she put her mind to it and that’s one of the aspects they had in common, he said.
Amber showed her selflessness when she invited her husband’s friend, Barney Dingwall, over to the house for supper a few times. On one occasion, Dingwall said she made him banana bread with no bananas.
“Best Christmas gift I’ve made this year,” Amber posted on her Facebook account last Christmas. “A friend of my husband’s has kidney failure so he can’t have bananas. Banana bread is his favourite.”
Dingwall said it meant a lot to him that she put the extra effort in. It looked, tasted and smelt just like real banana bread, he said.
Scott said Amber’s secret was mixing old-school recipes with passion to make them something entirely new and creative. One of his favourite recipes was her white-chocolate macadamia nut cookies.
“I told her, ‘You know, if you make these again I’m going to end up marrying you,’ ” he said.
Scott is nothing but a man of his word. He married Amber on July 30, 2011. She turned his favourite cookie recipe into a cake for their wedding. This recipe can also be found in her cookbook.
Moving forward, he said he would always remember Amber’s cooking and the love they had for each other.
“It was so, so true and just unconditional,” he said. “Anybody that knew us knew that we were never very far apart.”
Amber's cookbooks are available at the Bar U Ranch gift shop, the Chuckwagon Café in Turner Valley, all three locations of Bernie Browns Boothill Gallery and Cowboy Country Western Wear in Nanton.