Many times we forget what it means to be without, no offense to the great food that my comrades in blogging put together but posting a recipe that involves popcorn and truffle oil (while tasty) is far from the norm. I have been lucky, food was never scarce in my childhood nor has it been in my adult life. In the Austin area that's not always the case, the Capital Area Foodbank (in conjunction with its many partner agencies) provided 18.4 million meals in 2009. Texas has the second highest rate of food insecurity in the nation at 16.3% (USDA - Household Food Security in the United States, 2008). More disturbing is the fact that most of the families served by the Capital Area Foodbank are not without employment, these families struggle to make ends meet and have to make the excruciating decision between paying for necessities like electricity and water or buying food.
Like I said, sometimes we forget. I am embarrassed to admit that I was shocked at the information I heard when at the Foodbank last week and extremely happy to join in an effort spearheaded by Addie Broyles (author of the column Relish Austin published in the Austin American Statesman) to raise awareness of hunger in the Capital Area, Hunger Awarenes Blog Project.
So I have taken up the gauntlet and have joined forces with my Mom to cook within the confines of an average week of food from the Capital Area Foodbank. Here's the list:
2 cans spaghetti sauce
4 canned veggies
4 canned fruits
1 meat selection example: 1 lb. of ground beef (the Capital Area Food Bank said they receive everything from hams, chickens to pig trotters)
3 drink items (choice of lg. bottle of cranberry apple juice & or powdered milk
1 bag spaghetti or egg noodles
1 bag of beans
1 bag of white rice
1 package of jalapeno slices
1 ready-made dinner (example: Hamburger Helper)
1 bag/container of oats
1 bag of cheerios
5 lb. bag of potatoes
This list can be offset by many of the food bank recipients being able to use Lonestar/WIC to help modestly augment the food at local grocery stores or even the Austin Farmer's Market. So Mom and I decided to offset with a small amount of fresh produce and dairy from the Austin Farmers' Market and our local grocery stores. Throughout the recipes I'll denote what comes from the box and what doesn't. I have used small amounts of things that are pantry staples (butter, sugar, flour, salt, pepper, etc.) that one would expect in an average kitchen but even those may be luxuries.
One thing I find extremely intriguing is that the Capital Area Foodbank strives to provide a well balanced and nutritious package to it's customers, even though they get a lot of non-perishable goods those items are all ranked based on their nutritional value and each box is given with health in mind. In the spirit of that idea I have attempted to keep my recipes very healthy, I may fail (we'll see) but that's my plan.
First on the list to tackle, Breakfast!
Oatmeal Pancakes with Brown Sugar Syrup
3/4 Cup Oatmeal**
1 Cup Prepared Dry Milk**
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Vanilla (optional)
2 Tbsp Melted Butter/Margerine
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Water
1 Tbsp Butter
1. Mix oats and milk, let stand 5 minutes.
2. While oats are soaking, combine all ingredients for syrup in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil, once sugar is dissolved syrup is ready (approximately 3 minutes). Let sit until you are ready to use it.
3. Combine dry ingredients with oat/milk mixture. Mix well.
4. Add egg and melted butter. After incorporated, pour batter onto hot griddle and allow pancakes to brown on each side, serve immediately.