Hunger Awareness Week: Barley porridge and “baked” apples.

We’ve talked about who needs food banks (people like you and I), and the kinds of products food banks frequently receive and the services they offer. Food Banks Canada is an incredible, essential resource for hundreds of thousands of people and families every year. It’s inspiring, and there’s a lot you can do to help.

You can donate food. Food drives during the holidays are a great start, and food donation bins at your local supermarket are a great way to give all year. Do you shop at places like Superstore (or other Loblaw’s stores), or Shopper’s Drug Mart? Take advantage of points programs (PC Plus and the Shopper’s Optimum program, respectively) that reward you with points toward cash to buy more than you need and donate the excess, or cash in your extra points for groceries you can donate anytime of year.

You can donate money. You can give once, or you can set up monthly donations. You can also make a gift in honour of a friend or family member, either in celebration or in memory. Wondering where your money goes? Read Food Banks Canada’s Donor Impact Report.

You can donate time. Consider hosting a food drive, starting a fundraiser, or setting up a food donation bin in your workplace or school. Get the whole family involved and make hunger an issue you tackle together.

You can change the conversation online. We talk a lot about food porn and foodies, but not enough about food security or food justice. Tweet about hunger. Participate in #FoodbankFriday on Instagram and share your donation with your audience to inspire them to do the same. And share on Facebook about food drives in your area to draw attention to campaigns to food bank stock shelves in your community.

You can bug your politicians. And, as we’re right smack in the middle of election season, you can ask your candidates what they plan to do to address poverty and hunger in your community and across the country. Make them earn your vote, and put them to work once they’re elected. Politicians aren’t food insecure; don’t let them forget that many people are and that they can do something about it. 

Overnight barley porridge with applesMy last Hunger Awareness Week recipe is a breakfast recipe, because people who have a little something in their bellies to start the day perform better at work, have fewer accidents, and have the energy to get through the day. Kids who eat breakfast are less disruptive in school, pay more attention, and are less likely to act out. This recipe for overnight barley porridge is easy, and requires just five minutes in the morning. Take advantage of your microwave to fake the taste of baked apples. This is way better than cold buttered toast as you run out the door.

Overnight barley porridge with “baked” apples

Porridge:

  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Apples:

  • 1 lb. sweet, firm-fleshed apples (such as ambrosia, honeycrisp or braeburn; about two medium apples), peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

In a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring barley, salt and three cups of cold water to a boil. Once it’s hit a rolling boil, turn off the heat and slap the lid on it. Let it sit on your stove overnight.

When you wake up in the morning, place diced apples, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for four minutes.

Meanwhile, add half a cup of milk, brown sugar and cinnamon to barley, and stir to break up the grains. Heat for three to five minutes, until liquid is bubbling and grains are hot.

Serve porridge in bowls, topped with apples and additional sugar, as desired.

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Something to Read: The New Purity Cook Book

30days

The New Purity Cook Book alleges, on its cover, that it is the complete guide to Canadian cooking. I’m not convinced that this is true, though it remains one of my most beloved books, though I only make one or two things from it.

My parents had the book when I was growing up – apparently Purity is a brand of flour? – and that’s where our waffle recipe came from. I got my copy of the book at a thrift store for a dollar, which is actually pretty reasonable – there are gift coupons in the back of the book, and for $1.25 (cash or money order), you could, in the 1980s, have a copy of the cookbook mailed anywhere in Canada.

Purity-Cook-Book

It’s actually a pretty reliable book, with solid recipes for the kind of home-cooking you might have grown up with. There are the usual things – Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Enchiladas, and Salmon Casserole – as well as a handy guide to freezing, defrosting, and boiling the living hell out of vegetables until all that’s left is a weepy grey mush. There are also some pretty good recipes for breads and loaves, especially the Old Fashioned Porridge Bread, which you can make with leftover oatmeal. If you can find it for a dollar, it’s worth it. There’s a recipe for something called Chop Suey Cake, which seems to be a kind of inappropriately named fruit cake, and I want someone to make it so I can try it (but I don’t want to spend $20 on candied fruit to do it myself).

I use the Purity waffle recipe, because it makes the waffles I was raised on, and, therefore, The Best Waffles. If you make too many (I always do), you can stack them between sheets of waxed paper and store them in a bag in the freezer; they toast up pretty nicely so you can have waffles even on weekdays.

Waffles

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the liquids.

Heat the waffle iron according to your waffle iron’s instructions. You may need to lightly grease the iron before heating, depending on what kind you have or how old it is.

Pour batter into waffle iron, drop the lid, and cook until waffles have stopped steaming, and are golden and fluffy. Don’t lift the lid during cooking, or else they flatten out and don’t work as well for syrup-sopping.

Serve with tons of maple syrup. Like, an obscene amount. (That’s the whole point of waffles anyway.)