Recipes and photos reprinted with permission from TouchWood Editions.
Cinda Chavich is one of Canada’s foremost food and travel writers and like cream that rises to the top, her journalism school education means she delivers top notch reporting on food issues. Her latest book, The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook – Save Food, Save Money, and Save The Planet (Touchwood, 2015) is timely and empowering.
We all want to do something to help save our planet and Cinda helps us start in the heart of all of our homes – our kitchens – to do our bit to reduce the harmful effects of food waste. In this post Cinda shares a few recipes that are perfect for Christmas and she also “talks turkey” about avoiding waste in a season that can be fraught with excess.
Around the globe 1.3 metric tons of food (enough to feed 3 billion people) is wasted annually while 900 million people are starving. Cinda Chavich (photo above) appeals to our frugality and gives us a wake-up call when she tells us that Canadians waste $31 billion worth of food each year. What does that look like?
Well, it’s not like we buy three bags of groceries and leave one in the parking lot. Rather we bring those three bags home and despite our good intentions, we let one of them slowly rot in our fridge.
In North America 40 per cent of food is wasted. It’s become apparent that we have enough food to feed the world but we are wasting it. Cinda recommends following the National Resources Defence Council to learn how to combat this situation. Her top tips for reducing food waste are as follows:
- Make a list and stick to it. Plan what you are going to eat and check in your pantry to see if you already have it as you make your list.
- Creatively clean out your fridge before going shopping. Her book is loaded with ideas for “using it up”.
- Use your freezer. Use leftovers to create your own microwavable meals for next day lunches. Freeze fruit just before it goes bad and use it later to create smoothies.
- Join the no waste chef movement and learn to cook nose-to-tail or create “soup of the day” with what you’ve got on hand.
- Look for “best before” bargains and help use up food that grocers will otherwise have to pitch.
- Buy less and shop more often.
Waste Not, Want Not is divided into sections on fruit, vegetables, staples and inspiring ideas for creating weekly feasts from proteins that you can then use again in new dishes the rest of the week. Roast chicken one day and make quesadillas or crepes or chicken pot pie another night is one example.
My favourite part of the discussion of each ingredient is a section entitled, “Don’t Waste It!” Here, Cinda shares her cooking abilities to give dozens of imaginative ideas to help you prevent waste. Red onion marmalade, crab stuffed mushrooms, leftover greens pesto, corn and cheddar hush puppies, apple chips, carrot cake with pumpkin puree and homemade mayonnaise are a few of my favourites.
This is a book that I will keep close by for inspiration the next time my produce drawer has my will to cook wilting along with its contents. I’ll just keep calm, cook on and savour it all.
Click here for Cinda’s tips for Turkey Time. And read on for a few delicious recipes that will help you Waste Not, Want Not this Christmas.
Turkey Pot Pie with White Cheddar Crust
You’ll never know you’re eating leftovers. Cooked chicken or even pork roast could stand in for the turkey in this comforting dish.
2½ cups water
1 tsp salt
1 lb peeled butternut squash, cubed
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, slivered
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
2 Tbsp minced fresh sage
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked white beans (or canned white beans, rinsed and drained)
3 cups cubed leftover roast turkey
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp cold butter
1½ cups grated aged cheddar cheese
⅔ cup skim milk
Cayenne or paprika, for dusting
Boil the squash cubes in salted water until just tender, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a casserole dish, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the stock and reserved squash-cooking liquid. Bring to a boil. Stir in the sage and pepper and simmer until thick, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the beans, turkey, and parsley. Pour over the squash in the dish. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
For the biscuit topping, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Blend in the butter using your hands or a pastry cutter until crumbly. Stir in the cheese and enough milk to form a sticky dough. Drop by the tablespoonful over the turkey mixture in the baking dish.
Bake the pot pie for 25 to 30 minutes, until topping is golden. Dust with cayenne or paprika before serving.
Apple crisp, brown Betty—whatever you call it, this is a simple, classic dessert. And it’s even tastier if you have a handful of berries to toss in. In the spring, substitute chopped strawberries and rhubarb for the berries, and in the winter, use cranberries. Use tart apples, like Granny Smiths, for the best flavor.
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 Tbsp brandy, Calvados,
or Grand Marnier
5 large Granny Smith
apples, peeled and sliced
2 cups blueberries
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brandy, and then add the sliced apples and the blueberries. Toss to coat the fruit with the spices and set aside to marinate for 1 hour, until the fruit releases its juices.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a shallow baking dish.
Stir the flour into the fruit and spice mixture, and then pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
To make the topping: In another bowl, combine the butter, flour, and brown sugar, mixing to form coarse crumbs. Stir in the rolled oats, and add the cinnamon and salt.
Spread the oat mixture evenly over the fruit in the baking dish.
Set the baking dish on a baking sheet (this will save your oven if any juice runs over), and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown. Serve the crisp warm with vanilla ice cream or lemon yogurt.