SHARE, for hunger.

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When I am hungry, I am a little bit mean – a rule of thumb around here is that if I don’t have anything nice to say, someone should hand me a granola bar. When Nick is hungry, he is dumb and stumbles, the effect worse in him because low-blood sugar and its consequences are a hazard of diabetes. When our little minion is hungry, he whines and drapes himself over furniture and tells us he is very upset right now, and that he is dying of not having any treats. We’re looking into drama programs for Kindergartners. He’s going to be a star.

For people for whom there isn’t a simple fix – a trip to the pantry to restore moods and blood glucose and rumbling tummies – hunger can be consuming, reducing our ability to learn and retain information, to manage our behaviour and emotional responses, and to make rational decisions. In children, prolonged periods of malnutrition or hunger contribute to developmental delays and missed milestones – the stress and effects of hunger on a child can have lifelong cognitive and physical consequences.

And while many of us spend a lot of time moaning and complaining about the cost of living in Vancouver, the reality is that the entire Metro Vancouver region – 21 distinct municipalities occupying 2,877 square kilometers, and home to more than 2.5 million people – is a place where the basic necessities of daily life – housing, childcare, transportation, groceries – are increasingly difficult to cover on incomes that have not kept pace with rising costs.

This is how it is in a lot of places. I know. It’s hard out there right now. (Side note: eastern Canada, if you’re hiring, I’m interested.)

Food banks, and food insecurity and affordability in general, are the issues that matter most to me, which is why I’m delighted to be participating in another initiative that’s helping to get nutritious, wholesome food to the people and families who need it.

SHARE-Imagine-2016-Logo-I was recently invited to participate in a fundraising event from the SHARE Family and Community Services Society, the largest social service provider in the Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody). Their annual fundraising event, IMAGINE, takes place Saturday, March 5, and I’ll be participating as a judge in The Hamper Challenge. The Hamper Challenge is a Master Chef-inspired cooking competition in which local chefs will be paired with local mayors to prepare two-course meals from SHARE food bank hampers.

SHARE facts

  • Distributing out of three locations, the SHARE Food Bank serves over 5,000 people each year.
  • 35 per cent of SHARE Food Bank users are under the age of 19.
  • Food Banks receive no government funding so, SHARE relies entirely on the generosity of the community: individuals, businesses, associations, sports teams, churches, and community granting agencies, among others.
  • Last year, SHARE distributed close to 19,000 food bank hampers and 650,000 pounds of food with a retail value of more than $1.6 million.
  • Food Bank clients can use SHARE services twice per month and the food they
    receive is of supplementary assistance. It would last a family three or four days and
    enable them to save money they can put towards rent, gas, or other life expenses.

Why am I telling you this?

Because if you’re local to Metro Vancouver, you can participate too.

Come out to the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver Theatre in Coquitlam on March 5, from 7:00 p.m. on, and enjoy an evening filled with great food, fun people (and me!), live entertainment, auctions, raffle prizes, and more! Tickets are $85 each, which includes the opportunity to sample the best sweets and savouries on offer from the region’s best restaurants – be sure to vote for your favourites!

Last year, IMAGINE raised over $105,000, enabling SHARE to deliver vital programs and services to over 56,000 Tri-Cities community residents.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit sharesociety.ca/imagine. I also have tickets to give away – enter the raffle below to win two tickets to the event, which will be available at will call on March 5. The raffle closes on March 3.

Click here to enter the giveaway

If you can’t attend, but still want to support IMAGINE 2016, you can donate online. I hope to see you there!

Booked!

I think this has been my weirdest week on record, weirder than the time I was 20 and dyed myself and my hair orange at the same time and didn’t realize it. My ears are burning, and it’s not a tanning bed this time.

(If you’re wondering how you can dye yourself with a tanning bed, you can’t really. But you can turn yourself orange with a combination of tanning beds and self tanner, and then you can’t hide your shame.)

Anyway.

It’s like real life is happening in parallel with this other life I like the idea of, this alternate reality where I get to tell people stories and convince them to love kimchi and tuna and maybe even Spam. Of course, regular life is unyielding, and so on top of the euphoria of everything I ever wanted coming to pass, I am still wiping butts and folding laundry and finding mistakes in press releases I wrote or trying to book meetings with researchers at work.

And I know I wrote the book, and I knew that it was being edited and then designed and I understood that it would be printed and then I even had copies in my hands, and it all still felt like I could, I don’t know, get out of it maybe? Like if I panicked, maybe I could, I don’t know, stop the presses? Somehow in my mind it was going to be a real book but also maybe no one would ever know about it and I could escape judgment.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that none of it felt really, really real until this week, when people who weren’t my immediate family started getting their copies.

And then started making the recipes.

And then, well: I saw it, for real, in a bookstore I go to probably twice per week.

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Aaaaahhhh! There it is!!!

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So, here we go. Stuff’s happening now. I’ve had an interview with Megaphone, and with the Vancouver Sun. My schedule for April is filling up.

I’ll keep you up to date as more dates get booked and interviews or reviews come out. In the meantime, thank you for your support and enthusiasm and for buying copies and telling me how much you like the book! Hardly anyone tells me they like my press releases so this is a kind of gratification I’ve never known.

Holy crap, it happened.

Much has happened since we last spoke. Spring has sprung in Vancouver, and we have been playing outside without winter coats. We finally finished all the cheese I bought in early December. I am now raising a Ninja Turtle (Donatello, specifically), and bearing the brunt of his ninja attacks which are not stealthy but do sometimes hurt.

And that book I’ve been thinking about and talking about and fretting over for months went to the printer, and then emerged fully formed this past week! I have real, hard copies here in my apartment, which I can hold and look at and worry about making sticky. I filed my reference copy between books by Nigella Lawson and Fannie Farmer, in hope that some of their magic rubs off.

WFFB Bookshelf

These are fast-paced times.

And there is so much to talk about, recipe-wise, but we’ve hardly had a moment to catch our breath or chew thoughtfully or clean the weird smell out of the garbage disposal. I have a couple of things simmering away, so stay tuned.

The book will be in stores in early April, and if you’re in Vancouver, I hope you’ll join me at the book launch! Save the date and update your calendar – it’s April 19, at 2:00 p.m., at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks. I’ll update you with other dates in other places as those details are finalized.

Eek! It’s here. I can’t really even believe it.

BOOK.

A big, exciting thing.

In real life I work in communications and any time anyone wants to communicate anything I first have to write a communications plan, which, for the uninitiated, is an extremely boring document detailing your goals, key messages, tactics, deliverables, and how you’ll measure your success. I don’t really like writing them, because I am a BIG PICTURE (impatient) person and I just like to jump into things and see how they come together once I’m in them. Nevertheless, I follow protocols and write plans and pretend I am an adult professional who can do things properly.

And now, here I am, with communication of my own to communicate, and I know I should take a deep breath or ten and write a plan. Or, at least, figure out my key messages.

But sweaty and messy has always been more my style. Which is why I am nervously thrilled to announce that Well Fed, Flat Broke, the cookbook, will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press and on bookstore shelves in Spring 2015. I have so much work to do, but I am so excited. And I could not have done it without you. Without you, I’m just some pantsless cat lady with a gross kitchen and an abnormal enthusiasm for fibre. Actually, I pretty much am that, but you keep coming back. So this is all your fault, but in a really good way.

Thank you. Like, very much.

Well … I guess I’d better grab a beer and get to work.

Love,

Emily