On Martin Luther King Jr. day Tom and I attended a meeting for the Victory Garden at St. Catherine Laboure church where we volunteer. The garden serves multiple purposes. One of the primary missions is to raise produce for food pantries. We are going to be growing vegetables and herbs. One topic that came up in the meeting that has been making me think strategically is that different clientele at different food pantries have preferences for certain foods. If the clientele does not know how to prepare the vegetable or herb and is not familiar with it, they might leave it behind. The people at the Victory Garden have been learning what foods are in demand at what food pantry locations and have been adjusting the distribution and growing patterns to suit the local clientele.
In addition to adjusting supply, it was suggested to also adjust demand by distributing recipes. There are lots of reasons why everyone isn’t familiar with every vegetable or knows how to cook it. Some people are from parts of the world where the cuisine is different. Others might have a lack of grocery stores in their area so have less access to a variety of fresh foods. I also have known several people with plenty of access to food who have never learned to cook because they rely mostly on pizza and fast food. I have seen terrible health issues in some of my friends at relatively early ages due to this kind of deficient diet. It doesn’t have to be this way!
I have been blessed to have been taught to cook by my Mom who was not only a home gardener and a multiple culinary contest winner, but also had a very adventurous palette. She passed on knowledge of cooking and diverse food preferences to me and my late brother. When we were younger my brother and I used to get a silver dollar or a silver half-dollar from a great uncle if we finished all the food on our plates when we had dinner at his house. I guess we kind of neglected to admit that we almost always ate all our food, including the vegetables! We liked almost everything and had pretty hearty appetites. That was decent money when our weekly allowances were about that amount or not much more than that!
I am not a professional chef or food writer but I do like to publish recipes from time to time. I know so many people who are intimidated by food preparation. If I publish a simple recipe that I just made I hope that will inspire someone out there to try it. Since I cook a lot with herbs that I grow I also hope I can suggest ways of using them. A lot of people who don’t cook frequently are very intimidated by dried prepared herbs and spices, much less fresh ones. If you’ve been exposed to a wide range of herbs, spices and flavors your whole life you just know what goes together without having to follow a recipe. I don’t know how you teach this without long-term exposure but at least with a recipe I can show examples of combinations that work.
I am in terrible shape from recent inactivity so I’ll be using recipes from Weight Watchers and healthy recipe books a lot for inspiration as I try to increase my fitness. I inherited a lot of these books from my late uncle, brother, and grandmother. I often start from there and make modifications. If the results are good, I like to tell people about it!
Before I get to a simple new salad recipe, I’ll post links to my Fun With Food page (old but recipes still good!) and recipes of mine that are on blogs.
Recipe: Beet and White Bean Salad with Sardines
For inspiration I used a recipe called “Dilled Beet and White Bean Salad” (Gagliardi 70) from a Weight Watchers cook book, but I made a lot of changes and substitutions. For one thing, we had no dill! It still turned out great. It really woke up my taste buds.
3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
2 tsp brown mustard
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 bag of mini sweet peppers, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp dried Parsley
1 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp dried celery pieces
1 jar sliced beets
1 can sardines
1 bag fresh mixed salad greens, such as spring mix, spinach/arugula mix, or something similar
Get out a large mixing bowl. Open the can of sardines and empty the juice into the bowl. Set drained sardines aside.
Add to the bowl the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, garlic salt, Parsley, Basil and celery pieces. Mix well with a whisk.
Add the drained beans, chopped peppers, onion and tomatoes. Toss well.
Place greens on plates and spoon about 1/4 of the vegetables over the greens per serving. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Arrange about 5 beet slices and 4 sardines on top of each salad. Enjoy!
Gagliardi, Nancy, Creative and Editorial Director. WeightWatchers Ultimate Flex&Core Cookbook. Weight Watchers International, 2006.