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Tim & Leah – final day

T minus 1.5 hours. Yes, I am counting down the hours – not because I’m hungry though! Because I’m off work this week still and am incredibly bored. I’m excited to go hole myself up in my favourite coffee shop with my laptop for the afternoon and drink delicious, strong coffee. Before I show you a few photos of what Tim and I have been eating I wanted to discuss our experience with the project. Do we think this is a realistic amount of food for one week? Yes, a resounding yes. Tim and I both agreed that we could definitely do another week with it, and if we absolutely had to, another week and a half. There would be a lot of cereal meals and leftovers and no vegetables (and there would be no way we would be turning away free food at that point) but it would be doable.

For lunch yesterday it was a baked plantain and peanut butter sandwich, on delicious Safeway whole wheat bread (that we immediately stuck in the freezer so it would keep longer). We received a few Crystal Light packets so I had one with my sandwich.

For dinner we used the leftover ravioli sauce from yesterday’s meal and made a chili out of it. We got tons of soybeans in tomato sauce so we added a can, some cole slaw mix and chili flakes, with lots of salt and pepper and it was pretty good. Tim made potato wedges and I made garlic toast to go along and it was filling, and there are lots of leftovers from it as well.

So, this is Leah signing out for the last time – but this won’t be the end of Tim & Leah food blogging. I didn’t expect to have so much fun this week! I also didn’t expect Tim to get so invested in it, but he did. He would come home from work and the first thing he would ask is “Did you put up a blog today? Did we get any comments? Did people like my food?” It has been such a positive experience for him to not only be able to work towards an awareness campaign for a good cause, but for him to be able to share his creativity and passion with the world. So thank you to the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank and Husky Energy for the opportunity, and thank you to everybody who is reading this and who has supported the participants this week.

June 7, 2010 at 10:52 am 2 comments

Plantain overdose!

So as we try and use up our plantains creatively, I can’t help but wonder if it’s possible to overdose on plantains. Yesterday it was plantains for dinner, plantains for dessert (keep reading for details!) and today I am going to try a baked plantain and peanut butter sandwich. Luckily, I got used to eating plantains everyday a few years ago when I spent a summer in Costa Rica – where it was fried plantains for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, etc.

For dessert last night Tim made ‘Plantain’s Foster’, and while it could have used a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream or some raspberries for a garnish, it was still amazing nonetheless.

We sliced and diced the plantains, and simply removed the browned spots,

After the slicing and dicing, we fried ’em up in a few tablespoons of olive oil.

While they were frying we had some sauces on the go –

chocolate with margarine and a bit of sweetened condensed milk,

We also made caramel, but it’s not pictured. We used water, sugar and a splash of milk.

Et voila!

A delicious pile of crispy plantains, chocolate and caramel.

June 6, 2010 at 11:59 am 2 comments

Delicious Saturday Evening Meal

Well, here we are – only one day left and there is still lots of food left. It is a rare Saturday evening in the household of Tim & Leah in that we are both home to enjoy it. Tim put his culinary skills to use today with this meal (even the title is a mouthful): homemade ravioli stuffed with pureed plantain and mushroom with a roasted tomato and zucchini sauce. Ooooh boy, was it ever good!

I’ll go through how to make it relatively step by step – we’re still new at this whole food blogging thing, so we did forget a few steps.

We boiled and pureed plantains,

sauteed mushrooms in margarine and salt,

mixed the two together to make a savoury-yet-sweet filling (with lots leftover for tomorrow),

made pasta (the making of the pasta dough is not pictured),

put tops on the ravioli and sealed them shut,

used a fork to edge them,

and made enough for the two of us.

While Tim was making these, a can of whole tomatoes, half a can of tomato sauce, half a yellow pepper and two sliced zucchinis were slowly roasting (for about an hour) in the oven with salt, pepper and oregano (our third spice).

And the finished product:

It was a nice, light meal to eat on the patio while we enjoyed the festivities of the Underwear Affair race as it ran past our house.

June 5, 2010 at 7:45 pm 3 comments

Tim & Leah, Day Three

Due to some unexpected life challenges this week, our schedule has changed – leaving us more time at home to plan and make meals. Okay, I’ll be honest here – leaving TIM more time to plan and make meals (yes, I know I am incredibly lucky to have a partner who loves to cook and feed me). But so far it has worked out in our favour. I’m starting to get  bit frustrated with the power of choice having been taken away from me, and I would really love to have a nice, juicy steak in front of me right now. I tried to make plantain chips last night, but our plantains aren’t ripe enough yet so they weren’t very satisfying.

For lunch yesterday we had cabbage salad with a poached egg. Tim made croutons out of bread and olive oil (cube the bread, toss in olive oil and bake at 375 until golden brown), and while the salad was good, it didn’t satisfy my healthy appetite. On the salad was yellow peppers, mushrooms, filberts (hazelnuts), a homemade dressing and croutons. 

For dinner it was plain ol’ mac ‘n cheese, which would have been awesome if we had ketchup!

I think Tim sees this as more or a culinary challenge then anything, so for now it’s all well and good cooking with different foods, but I think that might be a different story by the end of the week.

For lunch today we had baked tuna and potato cakes with a homemade mushroom sauce on top, and a bit of cabbage for a veggie fix on the side.

Tim made lots of these, which is good because they will be excellent leftovers – I prefer mine fried in some oil for extra flavour and crisp. I think I’ll have some for dinner tonight!

June 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm 3 comments

Tim and Leah, Day 2 – Lunch & Dinner

Tim has been putting his food creativity to the test and has been coming up with some pretty yummy meals. We kept it basic for breakfast – Cheerios with milk, and juice to drink.

For lunch we had “Crispy Toad in the Hole sandwiches with Sauteed Mushrooms and Peppers“.

To make these, we used a quart of mushrooms, which we sauteed in margarine, we melted more margarine in a frying pan and after we took out the centres of the break using a cup, we put the bread into the frying pan and cracked an egg in the middle. The bread toasts up nicely and the eggs cook perfectly. The small circular pieces you see are the centres of the bread, fried up nice and crispy. This is a great meal for kids, because it is so much fun to eat!

For dinner, Tim concocted up a delicious vegetarian curry. This was so tasty! Full of flavour, and the only “extra” ingredients we used were two of our spices – red pepper flakes and curry powder. Also, there is lots of leftovers for lunches. We also toasted bread to go along with it – our version of “naan bread”.

“Spicy, slow-roasted red vegetable curry”

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups V8

1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes

1 yellow pepper

3/4 quart button mushrooms

1/2 package (7 oz) chopped cole slaw

2 cups instant rice

2 tbsp margarine

Spices: yellow curry powder, hot chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste.

The biggest thing to remember when making sauces is to taste as you go and add conservatively to obtain a balance of several ingredients to create one new great flavour.

Start by taking a large pot, placed over medium heat on the stove. Add the spices (curry, hot chili flakes) to the pot, stir them around to toast them – this will bring a more full flavour and brightness to the spices. Add 1/2 tbsp of margarine and stir to make a curry paste. Slowly add half of the V8 juice to combine into a smooth consistency.

Once the ingredients have reached a sauce-like consistency, add the peppers and mushrooms. Add the coleslaw mix and the can of whole tomatoes. Add remaining V8 juice. Bring to a boil while stirring and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours at 385 degrees. Stir the ingredients every 1/2 hour. The ingredients should reduce to a smooth, red curry with a thick consistency. If the curry appears too thin, reduce for another 15 minutes in the oven.

Rice:

Bring 2 cups of water and 1/2 tbsp margarine/butter to a boil on high heat in a sauce pan. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of rice, stir and cover for 5 minutes.

Plate and enjoy! This was very easy to make and was incredibly flavourful.

June 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm 1 comment

And so it begins for Tim and Leah …

We’re back from the Food Bank and out groceries are put away. Our diets this week will be drastically different from what they normally are (we are meat-loving farmers and the only meat we got was hot dogs), but overall we are pleased with the amazing amount of food in our emergency food hamper. Our experience at the Food Bank was overall calm and pleasant.

We got to the food bank and were directed by a friendly volunteer to go speak with Joan, the manager – we had to register because we hadn’t called ahead. Joan walked us through the registration process and we had to give her 2 pieces of ID, our income and why we were accessing the Food Bank that day. (Tim and I had recently lost a family member and due to the high cost of the funeral money was tight that month.) One thing we were surprised about was that it didn’t ask for any proof of what we told them – I guess the Food Bank runs on the honour system.  Then we waited in a short line to receive our food. I was impressed with the sheer amount of food that we received – way more than we would have purchased for ourselves for one week. There were also some items that were labeled “help yourself” – things like baby formula and bread/buns.

As we put our groceries away we took photos of what we got, so you have a good visual idea of what we will be eating this week.

Unloading the cart:

Canned food:

Fruits and Vegetables:

Pastas, Grains & Cereals:

Protein:

Beverages:

Toiletries:

Snacks:

And that, my friends, is what we will be eating for the week! Tim’s already concocted up some delicious looking meals which I will post later today. It looks like everybody has already made lots of delicious meals with their hampers – what great ideas!

June 1, 2010 at 2:02 pm Leave a comment

Tim & Leah

Leah

When Brooke approached me about this project, I was immediately intrigued and nervous. As a social worker in the mental health field, I often refer my clients to the food bank – I fax in the referral, arrange the delivery and then I wash my hands of it. I don’t ask my clients how their experience was, I just make sure that they did in fact receive the food. I don’t ask them “How was the hamper? How was your experience with consuming the food that was given to you? Did you like the food? Are you still hungry?”, though I probably should. I knew I wanted to do the challenge, but I was a little nervous about what Tim would say about it, as he (no offense, darling) can be kind of a food snob. I was relieved when Tim, who is a guest  services manager at a downtown hotel, immediately agreed to partake in the challenge.

To give you an idea of what our current eating habits are, we usually spend between $100 – $120 every 8 days or so and are very consistent with our grocery shopping. Tim watches “Chef at Home” (we love chef Michael Smith) everyday and gets lots of ideas for our meals – though he refuses to use a recipe. We do not eat organic but do eat a lot of homemade foods – anything from bread, to salad dressings, to hamburgers, pasta, etc. I think it will be hard for Tim not to have the freedom to create his meals and to have to depend solely on what is in the hamper. As I often work on the road I am so, so guilty of grabbing a wrap or getting quick pho for lunch, which will be a hard, yet good, habit to kick to the curb.

To answer the question ‘what is your goal for this experience?’, I guess I want to walk a mile week in the shoes of the people that I work with, and I am hoping it will open both myself and Tim’s eyes to what it would be like to rely on somebody else for our nutrition – to take that power out of our own hands and place it in a non-profit agency that depends on donations. I have both colleagues and friends who have admitted to accessing the Calgary Food Bank in the past,  some of whom speak very highly of their experience and some who have scoffed at the bags of canned food they received. I am nervous to see what will come in our hamper and I am excited to see what Tim and I will be able to do with it – Tim happens to be an amazing and imaginative chef, which I think will work to our advantage in this challenge. I hope that together we can help to inspire people to donate to the Calgary Food Bank and open your eyes to what it would be like to access a food bank (you never know, it could happen to you).

May 26, 2010 at 5:25 pm Leave a comment


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