Tag Archives: Comfort Food

Sadza/Isitshwala

Sadza is the Zimbabwean staple food. It is also a staple food in southern and east Africa. It is the same as ugali in Kenya, nsima in Malawi, fufu in Nigeria and papa in South Africa. Different types of meal can be used to make sadza/ isitshwala. Among these are: maize (corn) meal, sorghum meal and ground rice. Maize meal seems to be the most popular of these. This is a meal that most households will eat on daily basis and it is a rich source of carbohydrates. Serve with Curried Kale and Lindiwe’s Beef Stew.

Food & Love – Do it Slow

By Ryan Wolman

I’m not generally a patient guy. I go through everything fast. Music, socks, iphones, boyfriends and such. All disposable things to be consumed quick and discarded when done, onto the next.

I’m especially not patient when I cook. I cook when I’m hungry. So I turn up the flames all the way, mash a nice steak on the grill sear it fast, pace the backyard trying to make time pass and then straight to my mouth. My preferred utensil is a shovel when I eat. I’m not subtle, or graceful, or thoughtful.

Every meal’s a quickie. I don’t remember anything I made in my 20’s or early 30’s at all.

And now I’m in my late 30’s. I have a fiancé and a dog and a mortgage and a sore back sometimes. I’m my own boss (or I like to pretend I am) so my time is flexible.  I’m starting to see the value of slowing down a little. It’s not easy for someone like me to become patient, or thoughtful, or slow.

I thought slow food meant that it wasn’t “fast food”. It wasn’t something deep fried at a takeout joint. I thought home cooked was slow by default. I feel like an idiot learning to cook all over again sometimes.

A couple months ago I decided to learn to cook slow. I bought a great book (http://www.amazon.ca/Cooking-Slow-Recipes-Slowing-Down/dp/1452104697), and made my first pot roast. 8 hours in an oven. I hated it. I was literally in agony. Checking it every 15 minutes or so, just so I felt busy and involved and useful. It’s not cooking unless you’re doing shit right?

What I noticed around hour six was the smell. I’ve always complained that My place didn’t have the smell of butter, garlic, onions, or whatever aromatics make a great cook’s home smell so sexy. My food never smelled like that. Looked good. Tasted good. Smelled like nothing. If smell is half the way we experience food then my food was half good at best in retrospect.

My place smelled like garlic and caramelized veggies and I actually left a few times and came back so I could smell it all over again. At hour 8 when I forced myself to let the meat sit for 10 minutes like the book insisted I thought I’d lose my mind. I tried to keep busy but I just wanted to cut a little piece off to sample the infinite roast. But I composed myself and waited.

The roast was the best roast I ever had. Now I know technically it probably wasn’t. I’ve had great roast at my mom’s (obligatory respectful nod) or a restaurant and they were probably better. What I was eating was this weird new thing I did. Something that was painful. I was patient, and I paid attention, and I adjusted to the meat, I didn’t move it along a searing hot grill bending it to my will like I usually do.

I listened, and watched, and had a little respect for the thing I was making.  I stopped checking it every 15 minutes and let it do it’s thing without interfering more than I had to. I committed to something that was a little more than a quick pleasure. I took the time to pay attention and care about my dish, and I think that gave it a depth, and smell, and texture that I’ve never achieved before, even though I cook often and talk about it even more frequently.

We get older, and hopefully we see the value in slowing down and the invisibly obvious becomes something we can absorb. I feel a bit like I did when I met my <soon to be> husband. I’m often shocked that I’m able to appreciate something subtle and long and sometimes delicious, and sometimes calm and boring. Enjoying the fact that you’re sometimes just sitting around and enjoying a moment, creating something with depth.

Happy VDay.

 

 

Putting Food By

This makes a wonderful hostess gift and as I’ll show in another later column, is nearly the same as making Hollandaise Sauce. There’s more to come for this section, watch for updates.

LEMON BUTTER
3 Lemons
3 Egg Yolks
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Pound Butter
1) Cut Lemons in half, and squeeze out the juice.
2) Mix all ingredients in a heat proof glass bowl.
3) Cook the mixture over boiling water, stirring constantly
until it thickens (about 5-10 minutes).
4) Pour the custard into glass jars.
5) Seal the jars with sterilized lids.
6) Cool and refrigerate. Will keep approximately for one month.
With graham or digestive crackers, this will taste like tiny lemon pies, minus the meringue.

You can add the egg whites to an omelette for the next day’s breakfast, make macaroons with them, or freeze them in a perfectly dry and clean container for future use. I like to use the frozen egg whites to clarify stock.

Recipes

This month is, naturally enough, the Love, Romance, and Comfort Foods edition.

There will be more to come, but for now we have some lovely Tomato Pickle Relish from GaddAbout Eating and some wonderful Zimbabwean comfort food recipes from Lindiwe Sithole. So far, she has contributed recipes for Sadza, a type of porridge to be served with dinner, Curried Kale, and Beef Stew.

Blood Chocolate

Our feature article this month by Alison Cole, is about ethical chocolate . It includes an interview with Executive Director of The Food Empowerment Project, lauren ornelas 

Chocolate: A Big Business With Dark Secrets

February ignites the month of love, and with that comes the month of the largest chocolate sales of the year, to show our cherished ones how much we care. Sales of chocolate and confectioneries made from cocoa beans, in fact, totaled $110 million in Canada in February 2012. We Canadians certainly love our chocolate, but do we consider the ethics involved in the process of producing this delight when it comes to buying our sweetheart a Valentine?

You may or may not know about the horrific human rights violations that occur in the cacao industry. 70-75% of the world’s cacao comes from West Africa, which happens to be the place where the most egregious forms of child labour occur, in this industry. The industry is, of course, profit driven, and the chocolate companies take advantage of the country’s poverty to exploit its people and the land.

As Canadians in a privileged country, where purchasing a bar of chocolate is as easy as strolling to the nearest convenience store and passing over some small change, we have the power to end this human suffering, and to make choices with our consumer knowledge to put an end to the exploitation. Knowledge is power, and so the first step is to be aware of the issue and to know where your chocolate is coming from. There are many ethical options that are available to us, as well, that are cruelty-free. The Food Empowerment Project’s recommended Chocolate List is a great place to start for all your ethical chocolate needs!

On the Animal Voices Vancouver radio show, we interviewed Executive Director of The Food Empowerment Project lauren ornelas on the issues surrounding the big business of chocolate and its dark secrets, and you can listen to that interview here to find out more. The Food Empowerment Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help people understand how their food choices can change the world – for the good.

The chocolate companies need to take responsibility for what is happening in the making of their products, and they will do that when consumers have the knowledge to act and react, and demand human justice. Have an ethical Valentine’s Day this year!