EASTER is late this year, and it’s probably a good thing — it’s less likely to arrive with more snow.
After a long, long winter, many people associate Easter with the promise of renewal and hope. And there is an opportunity to share that promise of renewal and bring hope to many people, particularly children, who are subject to the wordwide problem of hunger.
I was recently contacted by Julie Marshall, who is the UN World Food Program spokeswoman for Canada about some initiatives that are being launched to bring food and hope, to those most in need.
"We're the food arm of the UN, the world's largest humanitarian agency, fighting hunger worldwide," says Marshall. "So we fed around 90 million people last year. Over half of those were women and children. We assist people in 73 countries."
The UN WFP depends on the generosity of governments (including Canada, one of the biggest supporters), private companies and the public. With only seven per cent of donations spent on overhead, they are one of the most efficient and effective organizations in the world. (You can find out more at www.wfp.org.) One of the ways they are raising money is through sales of a cookbook.
Newly available is Master Chefs for Home Chefs 4. This edition is made possible by the kind support of more than 52 international and local master chefs who donated recipes. Among those who contributed are Canadian chefs such as Michael Smith, Anna Olson, Robert Clark and Bob Blumer, Rose Reisman and Anthony Sedlak, and international chefs such as Gordon Ramsay. Through the sales of the previous three editions of Master Chefs for Home Chefs, more than eight million school meals have been served to date.
This WFP initiative enables children to attend school, where they get at least one nutritious meal each day. But the book is also an awareness campaign.
"When someone purchases a book like this, they also get an understanding about world hunger and about what it really costs to feed a child," says Marshall, "It dispels that myth that, 'I can't do anything about this huge problem, there are nearly a billion hungry people in the world and I can't do anything about it...' But you can. Twenty-five cents can make a difference today for a child. And it's not just about filling their cup, it's also about the nutrition, so if it's the only meal they receive today, it's a nutritious one."
Marshall says these school lunch programs are especially important to girls. When a family is short of food, it is often the older daughters who are pulled from school to seek out food for younger children. But when food is offered at school, parents are more inclined to send all their children to school. And when girls in particular receive their education, they tend to have smaller families and better economic prospects as adults.
With the sale of one copy of the cookbook, a child in Malawi will get 40 nutritious meals at school. The book's price is an important part of its concept: Master Chefs for Home Chefs 4 sells for only $15, for every book sold $10 is donated to WFP.
You can go online to order at www.masterchefsforhomechefs.com and you can also find them for purchase at Chapters Indigo. This beautiful $15 hardcover cookbook can be a gift that gives twice: once to a special cook in your life, and twice to provide 40 nutritious meals to a child in need. It's an act of hope and promise appropriate for this time of year. The 2011 goal is 125,000 copies, which is good for five million school meals.
Your meal on their plate -- WeFeedback harnesses social networks to feed hungry children
If you don't cook, don't despair, there is another incredibly effective way you can help out -- just by getting on the social network.
WFP has initiated WeFeedback, a program that engages supporters through an online "Feedback Calculator" that allows them to work out how many children they could feed if they donated the cost of a favourite food item like sushi, ice-cream or a hot dog. It starts with individuals and grows to get whole social networks involved. The bigger a person's social network, the bigger the impact. Currently, singer Christina Aguilera is the biggest contributor in North America. Actress Drew Barrymore has activated her social network, and here in Canada, CBC's late night chat guy George Stroumboulopoulos is firing up his social network. Once on board, followers of WeFeedback can track, in real-time, how many children their community is feeding. In just the few weeks since it started, WeFeedback has already raised enough money to feed more than 100,000 children. To participate in this innovative program go to www.wefeedback.org.
Try these from the book
This week's dishes would be lovely as part of an Easter luncheon menu. They both come from Master Chefs for Home Chefs 4, produced by United Nations World Food Programme.
Wrap with Smoked Salmon Pickled Ginger and Pesto
This is by Edwin Kats from Intercontinental Nanjing. You will need a deep frying pan with oil if you prefer to fry with.
1/4 celery root (celeriac)
a few leaves of fresh spinach
45 ml (3 tbsp) basil pesto (your favourite)
60 ml (4 tbsp) creme fraiche (may substitute full-fat sour cream)
280 g (9 oz) thinly sliced smoked salmon
60 ml (4 tbsp) pickled ginger
1. Cut the carrot, celery root and potato into very thin slices. Halve the leek and cut into pieces.
2. Heat the oil in the deep frying pan to 180C (355F) and fry the vegetables in batches until crunchy. Allow to drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.
3. Mix the pesto and the creme fraiche and spread on the wraps, then divide the salmon and ginger on top. Roll the wrap tightly, seal in plastic cling wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
4. Cut the wraps into slices. Place as much mixed salad as you desire on a plate with some wrap slices on top, then garnish with the fried vegetable chips. Four servings.
Fried King Prawns with Avocado and Watermelon Salad and Coriander Mayonnaise
This recipe was donated by Jean Beddington of Restaurant Beddington's in Amsterdam. For this you will need a hand blender and a ring-shaped mould (about the size of a tuna can).
3 beefsteak tomatoes
1/4 watermelon seeded
45 ml (3 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
15 ml (1 tbsp) white wine vinegar
15 ml (1 tbsp) balsamic vinegar
1/4 bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1/2 lime grate peel, and juice fruit
45 ml (3 tbsp) mayonnaise
12 king prawns, peeled and heads removed
coarse sea salt
fresh herbs to taste
1. Peel the tomatoes and the cucumber. Cut the tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and watermelon into half-inch cubes. Finely chop the coriander and grate and squeeze the lime.
2. Make a dressing of 40 ml (21/2 tbsp) of olive oil and the two types of vinegar, and add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Mix the tomato, cucumber, avocado and watermelon. Combine with the dressing.
4. Purée the coriander, lime juice and mayonnaise with a hand blender. In a hot, non-stick frying pan, fry the king prawns in a little oil until golden brown and sprinkle them with a little coarse sea salt.
5. Spread a strip of mayonnaise across the plate and arrange one quarter of the salad on top using a ring-shaped mould. Arrange 3 king prawns on the plate and garnish with some grated lime peel and fresh herbs. Four servings.w