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Take Back the Tray

Take Back the Tray

Revolutionizing Food in Hospitals, Schools, and Other Institutions
edition:Paperback
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As we got down to the wire, we raced around getting food set on the belt line for service. We put a little note from Rod on the trays, mentioning that everything was scratch-made and locally sourced. The plates were bright and alive, with food that looked delicious and drew you in. There was real, honest flavour and the distinct taste of care and attention. I loved seeing Rod on the line with the tray assembly team and savoured how obviously proud and happy everyone was about the meal we were serving that day. Rod and I excitedly took a tray up to a patient in the orthopaedic ward who had a broken leg. We explained what we were doing, and that he was the first one to receive this awesome local lunch. This patient couldn’t believe his luck and exclaimed about how delicious the tray looked. The patient in the bed beside him asked urgently whether he would be receiving this tray too, and it was really nice to finally be able to say yes.

 

Our team reported notably clean plates when the trays came back down, and there was even a bit of food leftover for the staff to have a taste. I wanted the team to see what was possible in that kitchen and that I wanted to help them get there. Many staff came up to me later with all sorts of thoughtful ideas for how to adjust our operations to make meals like this happen. That service was definitely a hustle, and we were all pretty exhausted, but I was so grateful that we had the chance to do this, and that it worked. In the deep of a February winter in Ontario we served an all-local lunch made from scratch for hospital patients. And when I reconciled numbers at the end of service, I learned that we only spent an additional $0.33/person for ingredients for that day’s lunch. It’s a relatively small investment for an exponentially better dining experience for patients. But, yes, it’s an investment, and we do actually have to spend some more money on patient meals.

 

I recently ran into Rod and was telling him about having just written about our time together cooking lunch at The Scarborough Hospital. His face lit up, and he reminded me that the woman who works on the internal hospital switchboard told us that in 21 years, our lunch was the first patient meal that received no complaints. “The first meal in 21 years with no complaints!” he exclaimed. “That’s a pretty clear message, if you ask me.”

 

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Alpine Cooking

Alpine Cooking

Recipes and Stories from Europe's Grand Mountaintops [A Cookbook]
edition:Hardcover
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INTRODUCTION

I was told by a station agent that the ski from Plan Maison station in Cervinia, Italy, to the Riffelalp hamlet above Zermatt, Switzerland, would take “about two hours, if that.” But what I should have paid attention to was the sign posted outside the lift ticket booth. “Weather conditions can change rapidly,” it said. “Please be particularly careful in event of wind, rain, fog, hail, or snowfall.”

And so, for the following hours as I made my way across the Italian border at an elevation of nearly 3,900 meters (13,000 feet), the winds increased, the sky turned black, and I couldn’t see my ski poles in front of me. I felt I was in the Upside Down, with little ability to orient myself. As I inched along, I encountered few people, which eventually turned into no people. The last person I saw was the Klein Matterhorn lift operator, who told me he was shutting down the lifts due to wind and even if I wanted to go back, I couldn’t.

I told myself to keep calm as I started the descent. What would normally take twenty minutes for an average skier like me took a lot longer, but I can’t tell you the specifics because I was scared, but also angry. Angry at the weather, angry because of the lifts, but mostly angry at myself for doing this—all for the purpose of eating Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (see page 212).

Alpine Cooking will take you from the Olympic glory of Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo, through the towering Dolomites to the northern Italian province of Alto Adige/South Tyrol, past Ötzi the Iceman’s place of discovery in Tyrol, Austria, down the slopes of Zermatt, Switzerland, and over to Mont-Blanc, ending in the twenty-one hairpin turns of the Alpe d’Huez in France. This book took six years to research, write, and travel . . . more if you count the incubating stages when I was trying to wrap my head around how to capture the enormity of these Alpine mountains and the food served within, alongside, and atop them. After completing a handful of Alpine trips myself, I wanted to share the experiences with my family and friends, who were inspired by the stories—often about food—I brought back home to Montreal. I yearned to buy books, or even a book, that combined the narrative of my past Alpine experiences with actual how-to tips and on-the-ground knowledge. I wanted a book about everything Alpine: from the best rifugios (mountain huts) to kitsch mountain films (it’s a genre!), Swiss folk art, mountain literature, hotels and the families who run them, history, and ghost stories. And, oh yes, recipes too. And maps. Lots of maps. Except that book didn’t exist.

Sure, there are Frommer’s and Lonely Planet and “just the facts” guidebooks. There are also haute cuisine cookbooks written by Alpine chefs. But that wasn’t my speed nor my vision. So, I decided to write this book; partly because no one else had done it yet—fit all of this skiable feast under one roof—and partly because I couldn’t resist the adventure of what lay ahead.

I remember early in my travels taking the chairlift in Alta Badia, Italy. As I ascended toward the church of La Crusc, with the alpenglow of the Dolomites behind it, I looked down, around, and behind me at the rifugios and huts all scattered in the snow like roasted chestnuts, and wondered what set one apart from another? Who served what? Could I ski to all of them? Were they open in the summer, and then could I hike to them? There was so much good eating in just one view.

I have skied and hiked mountains in Canada a few times, but rarely in the United States. The Alps are my first love, and they are all I really know. Upon seeing a photograph of my ski-day lunch, say, a Tiroler Gröstl (golden potato hash with local speck, and maybe cabbage and egg) with esoteric Alsatian bottles of wine sprouting out of the hills of snow behind me, my North American friends would comment about the lack of a Chef Boyardee facsimile served on a red plastic tray with a bag of Lay’s and a soda. As they recalibrated their idea of what mountain lunch could be, I realized how much of a story there is to tell. And so, I started keeping a journal of the people (chefs, hoteliers, helicopter pilots, winemakers, cheesemakers) I met, the best things I ate, the cultural observations, and the mistakes I made. (So many mistakes.) In trying to see, but moreover, eat as much of the Alpine range (200,000 square kilometers/77,000 square miles) as I could, I sometimes overlooked a detail. It usually included overestimating what is physically possible to do in one day without really considering weather conditions; for example, skiing to a hotel over a country boundary with my sleepover bag (and my laptop—how do you think I wrote this?) on my back through a blizzard. (And yes, those Zürcher Geschnetzeltes were worth it.) Or underestimating the amount of time it would take to drive from place to place, not counting the multiple stops for anything that looked remotely delicious.

Even after so much Alpine traveling time, this book is still only an Alpine primer—a two-dimensional account designed to inspire you. I came back from the Alps with approximately 175 recipes stuffed in my mind and proverbial snowsuit. Of those, I whittled down this collection to more than 75 must-haves, either because they are valuable and unique additions to any arsenal, or because the story of them was intrinsic to my Alpine trip. On the foldout pages, you will also find four country maps identifying the mountain-hut locations that inspired the corresponding recipes of my Alpine tour. And I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface here; indeed, I can imagine traveling the rest of my life, writing books of this size, and I still wouldn’t come close to capturing the magic of the mountains. Perhaps I’m just getting started.

I hope you cook from this book, sure, but the delicious and authentic recipes are just an excuse, really—a trail of little crumbs, and okay, fine, maybe some Reblochon too—to lure you into the mountains and to follow my journey, to encourage you to breathe in the mountain air. Many of these recipes are classics of mountain cuisine—dishes you’ll find in almost every inn of an area. Others reflect the talent and individual creativity of chefs I’ve met along the way. Still others were created at home, away from the Alps, and dedicated to the regions that inspired them. But all are rooted firmly in the Alps.

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Kosher Style

Kosher Style

Over 100 Jewish Recipes for the Modern Cook
edition:Hardcover
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From the Introduction
Kosher Style is for those who love delicious modern food, travel writing or both. It’s a cookbook with food writing that respects the traditions born in eastern European kitchens, while traveling beyond. Jewish readers will love it for the taste memories they can recreate, while others will be won over by the gorgeous full-color photography.

So why is it called Kosher Style? Excellent question. While dozens of countries host at least a small Jewish population, the global community is concentrated in two areas. Israel and the United States account for 83 percent of the global Jewish population, with about seven million in each. Canada is home to about 500,000 Jews. A chunk of this global population of Jews is kosher, but even more of them are what we call “kosher style.”

“Kosher style” is how many Jews eat today. This can mean dining on a smoked meat sandwich at a non-kosher deli, or eating a slice of sour cream coffee cake after you’ve had steak for dinner. It can mean Chinese food on paper plates in your home, or a lobster dinner eaten out while on vacation. For many, being Jewish tends to be more about culture than kashrut (the practice of keeping kosher), and it can be confusing at the best of times. I’ll get into the rules of kashrut on page 4. But first, let it be known that this book isn’t just for Jews. It’s also for the other 99 percent of the population.

Recent market research studies peg the kosher-food industry as being worth over $17 billion, and the kosher label’s popularity is growing. In 2009, 27 percent of packaged foods had the kosher denotation, but by 2015, it appeared on over 41 percent of packages. It’s not that the world has suddenly gone meshugenah for kosher food. The reasons behind the dramatic uptick are completely nonreligious. Some people buy kosher food because of perceived cleanliness, others owing to dietary restrictions (such as vegetarians) and still others to avoid certain allergens such as shellfish.

In this book are all the recipes you need for successful shellfish- and pork-free home entertaining, be it for a Jewish holiday or a workaday dinner. From crave-worthy snacks to family-size salads, soulful mains to show-stopping desserts, all of the recipes in this book are doable in the home kitchen and are clearly marked as either a meat dish, dairy dish or pareve (neutral). Think: latkes, knishes, General Tso’s chicken and Toblerone-chunk hamantaschen your family will plotz over.

Kosher Style is for anyone who likes to cook and loves to eat, and it’s especially for those yearning to create new shared memories around a table brimming with history, loved ones and maple-soy brisket.

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Chop Suey Nation

Chop Suey Nation

The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada's Chinese Restaurants
edition:Paperback
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Freshly Picked

Freshly Picked

A Locavore's Love Affair with BC's Bounty
edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian, essays
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The Measure of My Powers

The Measure of My Powers

A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris
edition:Paperback
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From "Farmers' Market, Vancouver"

Markets flooded me with life. Their colorful produce, the growth in each season on display, vendors selling flowers relaxed in full bloom, little pots of demi-glace, imported cheeses, and pecan shortbread that melted in my mouth. Around Easter, the local charcuterie would post fluorescent reminders to preorder hams, and I fantasized about baking them with honey and grainy mustard or brushing the top with a sticky, sweet pineapple-soy glaze, allowing the crust to caramelize and crys­tallize into a meaty lacquer box.

I would walk past each brightly colored stall, dawdling under the pretense of “grocery shopping” but secretly playing hooky from work, concocting imaginary meals with cans of smoky peppers in adobo sauce, white onions, cilantro, and masa flour, or sniffing varieties of Italian oregano like little green pearls still on their stems or bright green olive oils, and tasting the slow pro­gression of a tomato sauce in my mind.

I watched old movies about food, like Big Night and Mostly Martha, while I scoured blogs and websites in different languages for obscure recipes. I took on one recipe and then the next, madly working my way through countless books. My shelves were full of Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Martha Stewart, Maida Heatter, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Julia Child, Pierre Hermé, Dorie Greenspan, and Patricia Wells. I took books out from the library like when I was a child. I cooked from Deborah Madison’s vegetarian tome, got an Italian education from Marcella Hazan, and read books on canning, making jam, and growing food, poring over every­thing I could about those topics. I carried in my purse books by Michael Pollan and Margaret Visser, biographies on Jacques Pépin, and The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis. But most importantly, it was M. F. K. Fisher who fed me stories that made me laugh, dream, wonder, and remember again what it felt like to be alive.

I searched for the perfect everything, from pound cakes to roasts, sour cherries to pork bellies. I was insatiable, and when I had consumed every bit of information that books and the internet could provide, I saved for weekend courses at local cooking schools. With textbooks in hand, I was both challenged and lulled to sleep as I read, cradling their weight in my lap before bedtime.

In the quiet church of my own kitchen, I cooked with the intensity of prayer as G looked on, uninterested. He didn’t care much about food, but that didn’t stop me. And when I shared what my hands had made, I saw that my friends and family tasted joy in my pies and passion in the glazes on my cakes. Although their hungers were different than mine, I understood them all the same and it gave me much pleasure to satisfy them too.

I knew, though, that they didn’t fully understand how urgently I was tied to food, and I was always aware of that strange separa­tion. It was faint, and if you didn’t know it was there, you might not think to ask. But I noticed it when I spoke of chocolate and the fine nuances in it: fruity, smoky, red or green. They could taste the flavors, but we did not taste the same thing. I would look longingly into their faces, searching their expressions and hoping to recognize myself in them, but I never did. I accepted that I never would, but I wasn’t sad; it was enough for me just to know I’d had a hand in feeding them in any way at all.

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Sustenance

Sustenance

Writers from BC and Beyond on the Subject of Food
edited by Rachel Rose
edition:Paperback
tagged : essays
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Arab Cooking on a Prairie Homestead

Arab Cooking on a Prairie Homestead

Recipes and Recollections from a Syrian Pioneer
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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