Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Waste Not Want Not Cookbook

“Imagine going to the grocery store and leaving with three bags of food, then dropping one in the parking lot and driving away. We all do the equivalent of that every week of our lives.” 

Almost 40% of the food produced never gets to anyone’s plate. When Cinda Chavich, Canadian food and travel writer, became aware of the problem she was inspired to write a cookbook that would help people to eat well while wasting less food.

I try hard not to waste food but I still do, so I was eager to read The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook and see what I could do better.

Using the Cookbook
The book’s format is great. Cinda Chavich says that the easiest way to reduce food waste is by using up whatever is in your fridge. The book is divided into three sections with the types of food that people usually buy – fruit and vegetables, staples, proteins.

If you don’t know what to do with stale bread or an abundance of lettuce or kale, just flip to the page for that ingredient and you’ll find a wealth of information and recipes. As a vegetarian, I focussed my attention on the first two sections as the Weekly Feasts involve cooking once and then turning the leftover meat or fish into a variety of new dishes to avoid boredom.

The introductory page for each food item provides tips for buying, storing and serving, along with some simple but often unexpected ways to turn a surplus into a flavourful dish. This is followed by a number of different recipes.

Here are just a few of the helpful ideas I picked up on leafing through the book.

If you’re buying bananas, don’t buy the ones that are grey. They’ve been chilled and won’t ripen.

Pears ripen better off the tree, so buy them under-ripe and wait until the stem end is slightly soft before eating.

When you buy a bunch of asparagus, break off the tough ends and store the spears standing upright in an inch of water in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

A list of basic storage guidelines addresses the question of whether food is still safe to eat if it’s past the sell-by or best-before date. Don’t throw out the yogurt; it’s still good for 7-10 days after the best-before date, opened or unopened. And butter is good for 4 weeks after the best-before date.

The serving suggestions are great as they are simple and usually quick. Turn leftover mushrooms into a sauce or gravy. Cut sweet butternut squash into sticks and serve raw. Add cucumbers to fruit salad or make a spicy Thai-style salad. Cook eggs inside a bell pepper ring.

The recipes are a mix of simple ones (corn chowder, apple crisp) that are ideal for a beginner cook (e.g. your teenage son or daughter) as well as more inventive options (I’m intrigued by the recipe for Mouhammara, a Syrian red pepper and walnut spread).

Many of the recipes can be adapted to fit the ingredients you have on hand (risotto or frittata). I plan to make Lemony Lentils, a protein-packed summer salad. Instead of buying ready-made curried roti wraps, you can make your own. There’s also a recipe for a Vegetarian Nut Roast.

White Box Challenge
I plan to take the White Box Challenge and I hope you will too. When you don’t know what to make for supper, open your refrigerator, pull out three or four ingredients that need using up, add in some staples from your cupboard, and make a dish. It may be something straightforward like soup or pasta, or it may be something completely new. It’s our chance to have fun making up our own recipes while also avoiding waste.

I Wish
I have very little criticism of The Waste Not Want Not Cookbook. I would, however, have liked a greater emphasis on buying local, seasonal food. I know from personal experience that if you buy straight from the producer, the food is fresher and will keep longer.

I would also have liked to see more mention of alternate protein sources. Beans and lentils are cheap, grown locally and can be used in so many different ways. And dry pulses can be stored almost indefinitely.

Additional Information
Cinda Chavich recommends a number of online sources for additional information about food waste.

The Love Food Hate Waste Metro Vancouver website has tips (wrap banana stems with plastic to slow ripening), recipes (parmesan potatoes) and a storage guide. Some of the best tips are posted by individuals.

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s website has a wealth of information on ensuring safe, sustainable food.

The National Zero Waste Council was founded by Metro Vancouver in collaboration with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in 2013. Their goal is to address the factors that drive waste generation, including lifestyle expectations, product design and packaging.

The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook is published by Touchwood Editions who were kind enough to send me a review copy of the book.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, May 25, 2015

Thomas Haas, North Vancouver

Saturday Treats
Saturday is my family’s day for visiting the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market and Earth Bound Bakery and I look forward all week to the treats that will be in store for me. Here are this week’s hits:

Baklava – Ef Zeen Greek Cuisine
Salted Caramel Apple Rose – Wild Serendipity Foods
Savoury Croissant (kale, ricotta & walnuts), Apple-Brie Nightgown – Earth Bound Bakery

And, for those of you who are wondering, how or why you would eat a “nightgown,” here’s the answer. Douillons aux Pommes, aka Apples in Nightdresses/Nightgowns, is a culinary specialty from Normandy where they grow a lot of apples. Here’s a recipe.

Food Truck Rally, June 11
There will be a food truck rally to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital Foundation from 10 am to 2 pm, June 11, on the northeast side of 3rd Avenue and 22nd Street.

Lunch at City Perks
Lunch outdoors on a sunny spring day – what could be nicer! City Perks offers so many different lunch options. I really enjoyed my Roasted Vegetable & Goat Cheese Calzone, while Shelley had an Asparagus Quiche. The salad was great with Tortilla Strips and Black Beans for added flavour.

Vancouver Bakeries
I will be in Vancouver in August (yippee!) and am looking forward to visiting a few of Vancouver's best bakeries. I can already guarantee you’ll find delicious goodies at Terra Breads and Thomas Haas in Vancouver as well as Bell’s Bake Shop in Steveston.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, May 18, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, May 18, 2015

Food Environments in Canada, May 21
SPHERU is hosting a 3-day event in May to examine food environments in Canada. Steven Cummins, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will present a public talk on food-based interventions at the Roxy Theatre at 6:30 pm, May 21.

Eat These Words Community Supper, May 24
Act quickly to purchase tickets for Slow Food Saskatoon’s fundraising dinner on May 24. Chef Jennifer Willems and Chef dee Hobsbawn-Smith will be presenting a five-course Italian menu from locally sourced Saskatchewan food.

Lexicon of Sustainability, June 5 
Join the Saskatoon Food Council at their monthly Urban Ag Movie Night at 7 pm, June 5, at Station 20 West for the Lexicon of Sustainability. The Lexicon of Sustainability combines “information art” photo collages and a series of short films to introduce a discussion on food sustainability and our evolving food culture.

Fresh Spring Greens 
What a treat to have fresh spinach and asparagus from the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market!

Chef’s Table
I’m enjoying Chef's Table, a six-part series of interviews with chefs, on Netflix. I believe that food’s primary purpose is to nourish and sustain us; however, I’m full of admiration for these chefs who are creating works of art. Each episode takes you inside their restaurant kitchen and introduces you to their family, their dreams and ambitions.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, May 11, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, May 11, 2015

Best Hospital Food Ever 
I had the best hospital meal ever the evening after my surgery – a grape popsicle! It wasn’t a gourmet dish; it demonstrated no culinary expertise; but it was exactly the right thing for me to eat as I upgraded from ice chips to real food. Something to keep in mind when we attempt to define quality food.

Shop Local 
Invest $25 in a GOLOCO membership card and you’ll save money and show support at lots of local food businesses (Earth Bound Bakery, Nosh, Griffin Takeaway, City Perks, EE Burrito, Honeybun CafĂ©). Sounds like a good idea to me.

Pardessi Bazaar
A friend commented on Twitter that Pardessi Bazaar (1-415 51st Street East) was her favourite place to shop for Indian specialties. Just looking at their website makes me hungry.

Basics of Composting
Want to start a backyard compost bin but need more information? Saskatoon’s Master Composters are offering introductory presentations from 7-8:30 pm, May 13 (Alice Turner Library), and 2-3:30 pm, May 23 (Mayfair Library).

Community Gardens 
Saskatoon now has 39 community gardens (up 5 from last year). Wow!

Go Vegan
 A 100-year-old heart surgeon retired at 95. He’s been vegan for almost 50 years.

Arcadia Bar, a vegan restaurant in Edmonton, sounds like a great place to eat – everything from vegan donair to tacos and burgers.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).