The Bread Project

1 02 2011

I am so excited about my new friends and volunteer project I am involved with. A fellow Leadership Calgary alumnus and friend Mariette works at Calgary Family Services and started a new pilot project called Food for Thought: The Bread Project. The purpose of the project is to bring older adults from various cultures together to bake bread, examine food, culture and provide a community to each other. Many older adults can easily be isolated and I am learning the value that organizations like CFS bring to them. Mariette has a wonderful vision for this project, tackling other food skills like preserves and spreading the program to communities in the city and bridging the gap between generations. If The Bread Project is of interest to you or you have an older adult in your realm that would love to share their knowledge and a bread recipe, let me know, I’ll pass you along to Mariette.

We have spent some time talking about the mass production of bread, how it’s processed, what’s been lost and what more is at risk of being lost with their generation. An important aspect of this program is to examine the importance of food, culture and food security. In rants on this blog I have shared information on very serious risks to our food supply, production and population. There is a crisis in North America we see in the headlines – obesity. There is a much deeper story to this, mass production, genetically modified foods, over processing and kids that don’t know what a cooking pot is (see my Bottom Line post, you can listen to the podcasts that speak to this) are all increasing our disconnection from our food and survivability. One symptom of this is obesity, malnourishment of our aboriginal people, earlier pubescence and environmental sensitivities are some others. This past week the USDA approved the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa, putting organic meat producers and farms at risk, it is slippery slope. We don’t know all of the health implications of GMO foods, there are no labelling laws in Canada or the US and moves like this have made seed health and species extinction a real risk. A story to pay attention to and speak out about.

Here are some articles on the recent USDA changes:

Food Democracy Now

Common Dreams

Cornucopia

Today at the Bread Project we talked about Dr. Vandana Shiva a well known sustainable food and seed researcher and activist. She is the chair of a program that supports various seed keepers and organic farmers in India. This was fitting since the bread we made today was roti. The history of wheat in India is lengthy and their consumption of wheat is the greatest in the world, something we all learned today! The roti is a flat, unleavened bread made in many parts of India, both north and south. I learned to make roti in Mysore, India in cooking classes I took. Vidya, in our bread group, was a natural teacher and I loved learning this bread technique again – because I hadn’t made them myself since learning the first time! She made it even more accessible, probably because we were using North American utensils and stove. She spread ghee and home made wild blueberry jam on them, folded them up and doled them out, they were SO good. I took dough home to make two fresh rotis for Tony and I for lunch. mmmmm

Eat well, Be well,

Nat

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Spring Rhubarb

1 06 2010

Even though it snowed all weekend, I was able to harvest a bunch of rhubarb from the garden. Picking rhubarb this time of year is a move in the right direction, SUMMER. I have green rhubarb, which is the same as the red, but not as pretty. Oh well.

So, what to do with all that rhubarb? So much, where do I start. I have been experimenting with it the last few years, favourites are compote and crumbles. The ultimate favourite is grandmas’s strawberry rhubarb pie. This bowl of rhubarb is a lot, it yielded 9 cups of chopped rhubarb (about 1 cm or more size pieces). I used three cups in a cobbler, three cups in a compote and I froze three cups. That’s the nice thing about rhubarb, you can freeze it.

Prepping rhubarb: I don’t even rinse it off, unless it is really dirty, but the snow and rain took care of that. I use scissors to cut the stalks off the plant and the leaf off the top (don’t eat the leaves, toxic). I use a pairing knife and peel the very outer layer of skin off the stalk, it is really easy. Chop up into the required size, use right away or freeze.

It is tough to find recipes for rhubarb that don’t include a bucket of sugar. Rhubarb is tart, cooking it brings out the sugar, but most recipes add sugar to sweeten the pot. My goal (challenge) is to find ways not to use cane sugar and only natural sweeteners. So Sunday was rhubarb sans sugar experimentation day. I made a Rhubarb Ginger Jam, which I plan on using in my Thumbprint Cookies, and a Rhubarb Strawberry Cobbler with Walnuts, yum. Here are the recipes:

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

3 cups of chopped Rhubarb, 1 cm pieces

1 tbsp of grated Ginger

Juice of 1 Lemon

1/2 cup of filtered water

2-3 tbsp Agave Nectar (based on your taste)

1 tbsp Kuzu (a Japanese starchy plant used as a thickener) or Cornstarch (optional)

Add the rhubarb and ginger to a sauce pot, saute for a couple of minutes, add the water, lemon juice and agave. Bring to boil, turn the heat down to a low boil/simmer for 20 minutes or until it softens and thickens. Stirring often. You may need more liquid, just add a bit of water, depends on the water content of your rhubarb. Use kuzu or cornstarch to thicken (mix with a small amount of water, don’t dump the thickener into the pot, or globs will form). Making jam is personal, you need to adjust to your thickness/sweetness. I ended up using 3 tbsp of Agave.

Rhubarb Strawberry Cobbler with Walnuts

Filling:

3 cups of chopped Rhubarb, 1 cm pieces

3 cups of quartered Strawberries

Juice of 1 Orange + 2 tsp chopped Orange Zest

2 tbsp of Kuzu or Cornstarch, dissolved in the orange juice

Mix everything together, pour into a buttered pan, I used a smaller casserole dish, like 9″x5″.

Topping:

1 c Rolled Oats (not instant)

1/4 c Oat Bran

1 1/2 tbsp Flax Meal

1/2 c Almond Meal or Flour

1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

2/3 c chopped Walnuts

1/4 c liquid honey

Mix all the dry topping ingredients together first, then add the honey, blend. Spread on the top of the fruit. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until the fruit is bubbling and the top is browned, I think I baked mine for 50 min. Let sit and cool a bit, serve with ice cream, frozen yogurt (what we had with it, Chapman’s makes a good, low sugar one) or plain yogurt or almond milk (which I did yesterday, even better). If you don’t have oat bran or almond meal/flour, use spelt flour instead, just use less, using almond meal/flour creates a grainier texture as it has no gluten. Using wheat or spelt will make it more glutenous.

Eat well, Be well, Nat

(oh, look, the sun!)





Just Eat It: Thumbprint Cookies

22 04 2010

This month’s Yoga Shala recipe is a healthier version of a thumbprint cookie. I forget where I adapted this from, too many sites and recipes to keep it all straight, and hopefully I don’t break a copyright law somewhere. These cookies are delicious and not in an ‘I feel bad eating them’ kind of way. If you make your own almond ‘milk’ it is also a great way to use up the pulp we accumulate. If you do, dry it out or lightly toast it. For the filling buy jams that are pure fruit and sweetened with fruit juice or better yet make your own! Planet Organic and Community have a few brands and they are all delicious. My favorite so far is a blood orange jam I bought at Planet. I make them often but need to remember to take pictures…next time.

1 cup Rolled Oats (not instant oatmeal)

1 cup Almonds (or dried almond meal)

1 cup Spelt flour

½ cup Sunflower or Safflower Oil (I use a little less than asked here and a bit of water, you experiment)

¼ cup Maple Syrup (not Aunt Jemima!!!)

¼ cup Agave Syrup* (see note below)

Your favorite fruit jam

Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a food processor, blend the oats and almonds (or almond meal) together until flour like. Put into a mixing bowl and mix in the spelt flour. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Roll the dough into about 1.5” balls, makes about 13-14 cookies. Place on cookie sheet, press the cookies a bit flat, make indentation in the middle of each and fill with the jam. Bake for 15-17 min, until slightly golden. Eat it.

*You can now get a package of two Organic Agave Syrup’s at Costco. We’ve been picking this up in the US on our runs to Vegas and Spokane. I was excited to see some of the organic stuff we buy in the US making it onto the shelves of Costco here. There is a nice bag of organic quinoa there now too.

Eat well, be well,

Nat





White Bunnies and Easter Goodies

6 04 2010

As if, I wouldn’t eat bunnies for dinner. In fact, when I was a kid (like 5 or something) I remember my old great uncle Mike was a rabbit farmer. When he came to town he brought the bunnies with him. I played with them in my baba’s (grandmother’s) backyard. They even had a little wood house for them. We ran and played until we tired, both the bunnies and I. At dinner, I think Easter, the food was served. Inquisitive as I was, I said, as my mom was dishing a meat thing on my plate, “what is that?”, mom said “rabbit, what do you think it is” (because an urban Hungarian-Polish-Ukrainian kid is suppose to think like a farm kid). Well I think I screamed, at least that is my memory, and never touched rabbit again. 10 years later cows and pigs ‘fell off the plate’.

Anyhow, I was working in the house on Good Friday, and out the front window, running down Elbow Dr. was a herd of rabbits. White rabbits just given’r like they were running for their lives. It was hilarious. Go bunnies Go!

Easter morning we went to grandma K’s for a waffle breakfast. She made like 100 waffles, they kept coming out of the oven “eat, eat”. She makes her own jam, like many people do. She experiments with ‘low sugar’ or substitutes, you know to “watch the calories”. She made the yummiest jam ever, prune jam. I love prunes, we always have a bag in the cupboard, so good for you and keeps you regular. She took soft, dried prunes, chopped them up, added Welches unsweetened prune juice and cooked it up into a jam. Into a jar and into the fridge to spread on waffles, toast and whatever else you like. Try it, it is good!

Hope everyone has a nice long weekend.

Eat well,

Nat