Tamarack Institute | Week of April 28, 2020
As we all adjust to a new normal, people across Canada, the United States, and beyond are turning to comfort food. Each week, the Tamarack team will share one recipe that brings us comfort in uncertain times.
Want to share your own recipe? Get in touch!
My baking paid off this last week in love. It is something I do to relax and create, finding it not only meditative and calming, but also really grounds my desire to feed my family healthy, fresh food. I’ve been baking scones since the Pandemic started, as a way of welcoming the weekend. It’s quick and rewarding. I love cooking, but I find baked goods are amazing in that they send a warmth across the house, with a great smell wafting out of the kitchen. This weekend my 10-year-old daughter decided to make homemade guacamole to accompany the scones and present it to me in the shape of a happy face on our plates!! It was a great surprise. She wanted to contribute more joy to our Sunday morning, and she did it with great success! Sometimes, it’s the small things that lead to the greatest impact!
The following are ingredients that can vary depending on taste:
Preheat the oven to 425 F
For my wife and I, food is at the center of much of our social lives. We celebrate special occasions with special meals, and we enjoy getting to know new friends over drinks and food. Social distancing has changed that, although we are continuing to meet friends for dinner over zoom or FaceTime.
One of the first foods we learned how to make together was fresh pasta. It’s a communal, methodical practice that in earlier times was a great party trick – we’d host another couple and make each element of dinner together. In the midst of social distancing, we’re coming back to this family favourite to recapture the idea of dinner as something to do together, rather than something to simply keep us fed. The beauty of fresh pasta, other than the taste, is that the experience of making it together is so satisfying. You get your hands dirty and must work together as a team to produce it in bulk. The food cost for the final recipe is very low for the quality of the meal you get. You can make it in large quantities and freeze the noodles for future use. Here’s our recipe for fresh pasta, as well as a classic dish flavoured with olive oil, garlic, and chilies or red pepper flakes. Once you’ve done the work of making the fresh pasta, the actual meal comes together in less than 10 minutes.
Fresh Pasta (makes 1.5 servings)
Shape as desired (for fettuccine, roll until slightly see-through, cut into thin flat noodles)
For this process, you can also use a stand mixer. Pasta rollers are also handy. This fresh pasta only takes about two minutes to cook and can be frozen after being left out to dry. If frozen, add a minute to the cooking time.
As a community we were poor, but we always ate well. We were farmers and we knew how to stretch a dollar. We had a saying - “that is as cheap as borscht” - going out of our way to make nutritious meals for as little money as possible. So, it is no surprise that during COVID-19 the recipes I most crave are the ones I grew up with and like that and are also inexpensive to make.
My go to foods on a budget:
My favourite budget recipe: Lentils and Spinach (feeds 5-7 people for under $5)
If you have extra and are feeling decadent add a couple extra tablespoons of butter just before serving.
If you want to learn more get the More with Less Cookbook by Doris Longacre or just search more with less cooking online. You will be amazed by the great cooking you can do for less than a $1 per person for a meal.
Community building for me has always been centered around food. Cooking and sharing a meal together, helps us connect, share stories and care for each other. With the current state of the world, I’ve been trying to continue these traditions through virtual means. Regular meals over video calls, sharing recipes over e-mail or food adventures (and sometimes mishaps) over social media, has allowed me to stay in touch with friends and family, no matter where they are in the world.
Japanese Canadian Chow Mein is one of those dishes that brings people together. Along with making it at every family gathering, my grandmother and the “church ladies” would prepare this dish for community meals and fundraisers at their Buddhist temple in Lethbridge, AB. While Chow Mein is not traditionally from Japan, the recipe developed as the first wave of Japanese Canadian immigrants tried to continue making Japanese-style dishes with ingredients that they had access to in the early 1900s. It reminds me of building community and adapting in a new environment. This comfort dish helps me feel connected to my family and community, in a time of social distancing.
I simply love soup. Every Saturday growing up my mom would make a huge pot of soup - enough so we could eat it again on Sunday after church. It is for me the ultimate comfort food and brings forth this “warm feeling” like mom is in the room with me. So, as we are cloistered by COVID-19, my first thought was, what ingredients do I have for soup? Our store was low on produce, but they did have leeks. Yup and we still had some potatoes and voila a comforting creamy leek potato soup.
This is my family - for four years we cooked together in an out of the cold program. A family that cooks together stays together.
Here's my potato leek soup recipe. (Cost – about $5 for a huge pot)
If you like this recipe let us know. I have lots more - my favourites are borscht, Mexican corn chowder, butter chicken (or paneer) soup and my homemade chicken noodle soup is classic.