I heard about Taste for Charity from Michael Sidra, the man behind Lean Rhino (where he helps fledgling restauranteurs build sustainable business plans and teaches about food handling safety - I wrote about his business for Yellow Pages, you can read it here). Michael used to be a Public Health Inspector for Alberta Health Services, and with his colleagues, he helped found Taste for Charity with fellow inspector, Lena Parker. Together, they inspired the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI) and the Environmental Health Foundation of Canada (EHFC) to support them in raising funds and awareness for Clinica Verde, a maternal and infant clinic in Boaco, Nicaragua. To raise these funds, they chose to create a cookbook using treasured family recipes from health inspectors across Canada. All cookbook sales are donated directly to Clinica Verde to aid in funding operations, nutritional seminars, and a biointensive garden. You can learn more about the project here. Next month, the Taste for Charity team will be traveling to Nicaragua to build a water well and to visit Clinica Verde.
Now, onto the cookbook. This classic collection of recipes includes family favourites such as Seven Layer Salad, Creamy Scalloped Potatoes, Chicken Pot Pie, Cannelloni, Shepherd's Pie, Rice Crispie Treats, Classic Brownies, and Nuts and Bolts. But among these classics are interesting and delicious recipes like Nachynka, Lazy Holubchi, Spicy Bourbon Pork Tenderloin, Coconut Orange Rolls, Classic Chai Tea, Coconut Bon Bons, and Chocolate Butter Crunch. The cookbook is clearly an amalgamation of common Canadian foods that demonstrates our multicultural roots. Every recipe is simple, straightforward, and easy to execute with ingredients that are readily available at your local grocery store.
Our little cookbook club made three recipes: Quick and Juicy Meatloaf, Lazy Holubchi, and Butter Tarts. I am a meatloaf lover. Originally, I chose the Coconut Orange Rolls, but given my inexperieince with rising dough, I chickened out and went for an easy recipe: the Meatloaf. There's something about a nicely spiced and flavoured meatloaf that is so comforting and feels like home. The recipe was incredibly simple and while it's not the prettiest loaf around, it was tasty. We served it with rice and salad and it made for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
Erin prepared the Lazy Holubchi, which is similar to lazy cabbage rolls but a bit meatier. Simple flavours unite in this beginner recipe. Erin anticipated that the addition of water was going to make the cabbage soggy, but the recipe came out with crispy, crunchy cabbage and perfect rice. What Erin liked most about the recipe was how easy it is to modify or make additions to - she thought some dill would finish this dish off perfectly.
Lastly, Melissa made the Butter Tarts. While Melissa isn't typically a fan of butter tarts, she made this recipe for her butter tart loving husband and fell in love: "I admit it," she says, "I ate butter tarts for breakfast. - Don’t tell the kids." Melissa enjoyed the use of pre-made shells for quick and easy preparation and found the recipe to be incredibly easy to put together. She liked that they didn't call for corn syrup.
Because she hates raisins, Melissa did four batches with four different fillings. She also switched up the sugars to keep it interesting and also to see if coconut sugar would be a good substitute (she prefers to use it for baking for her kids). All in all, the tarts were a bit hit! Melissa's kids and nephews all acted as taste testers and gave two rousing thumbs up and the recipe has landed a position in Melissa's Christmas baking rotation.
All in all, we all enjoyed this cookbook - particularly it's simplicity. It can be so frustrating to work through a complex recipe, especially with your toddler running around wreaking havoc or when your schedule is jammed packed with little time for cooking. Taste for Charity offers wholesome family recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, so it's perfect for working (or very busy) parents!
I can't wait to try my hand at those rolls and I'm eager to test out the cucumber salad, grilled citrus and quinoa salad, the Israeli couscous lasagna, and the black bean brownies with coconut!