Cooking with Canadian Food

This fall, Fruit Share collaborated with Eastman Immigrant Services to put on a cooking workshop. The workshop was part of a series called Cooking with Canadian Food, a program geared towards newcomers on how to cook with unfamiliar foods that are common to the area.
This year, the focus was on seasonal vegetables- squash, rhubarb, and apples. Most folks were familiar with squash and apples, and they shared with us the ways that their own cultures prepare these foods. They also explained the different varieties of squash and apples that they had access to in their home countries. Rhubarb was a new food for some. Others knew it well, but were used to preparing it differently.
The menu for the evening included squash and apple soup, savory squash and bacon medley over rice, and a rhubarb sheet cake. We split into three groups and each created one recipe. Translating cooking terms for each other was a lot of fun- it was very entertaining when words weren't enough and it got acted out instead.
Finally, we sat down to share the meal and enjoy the conversation. Many fascinating stories were shared about the places everyone was originally from. Different traditions were explained and idioms laughed over as well.

Squash and Apple Soup

2 tbsp butter
1 large onion, peeled, chopped
6 cups cubed, seeded squash
3 medium apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
3 cups water (chicken or vegetable broth)
1 1/2 cups apple juice or cider
In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the squash cubes and the chopped apples, stir to mix, then add the curry powder and salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don't let the ingredients brown, just soften. Finally add the broth and cider, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer until the veggies are cooked. Blend with an immersion blender or in a counter-top blender. Return to the pot and serve. Garnish with yogurt or sour cream.

Savoury Squash and Bacon Medley

(Serves 4-5)
6 cups diced squash
1 package of bacon (or 5 mild Italian sausages)
1 onion, peeled, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
1/4 -1/2 cup white cooking wine
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 jalapeno, diced, seeds removed (optional)
Chop the bacon into 1" pieces and fry on medium-low, until *just* crisp in a large frying pan. Remove the bacon to a covered container to keep warm. Remove some of the bacon fat from the pan if desired (save it for flavouring other dishes.) Add the chopped onion and jalapeno if using, to the same frying pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium-low until translucent. Add the squash and garlic to the onion and cook until the squash is just cooked (8-10 minutes). Reduce the temperature as needed to prevent the squash from sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan. While the squash is cooking add some bacon fat back into the pan if necessary. When the squash is cooked, add the cooking wine to deglaze the pan, use your wooden spoon to scrape all the food bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan with the help of the wine. Add the bacon back to the pan and add the salt, pepper and dried sage. Heat over medium heat while stirring until everything is heated through. Serve over rice.

Rhubarb Sheet Cake

1 1/2 cups lard/butter
5 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 lbs rhubarb chopped
4 tbsp sugar
In a large bowl mix lard, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder and vanilla. Spread in the bottom of a cookie sheet with parchment paper on the bottom. Sprinkle chopped rhubarb on top of batter (distribute evenly.) Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake at 400 F (205 C) for 35-40 minutes.