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Archive for April, 2014

Mildred Celebrates Her 97th Birthday with the Food Bank

By Meg Zentner, Senior Food Program Coordinator: Mildred was born on April 9, 1917 in Stockton. She spent her childhood in a tiny town outside Tracy and someplace called Fireball. Her father worked for Standard Oil and in 1929 when she was 12 the family moved to Brentwood, where she has lived ever since.

mildredShe has been married twice and has no children, but is very close to her nephew and his kids. Early in her first marriage she traveled around with her husband who was an agricultural state inspector. When he returned from the service at the end of WWII they bought a walnut farm in Brentwood from her father in-law where she has lived ever since. They farmed it together until her husband passed away. She worked as a volunteer for the Red Cross, and later ran the crafts program at the original Brentwood Senior Center. Mildred started volunteering at the Senior Food Program site in Brentwood 3 months after its inception in 1981 and has been there ever since. Mildred still drives and lives independently on her walnut farm. She is an awesome human being. As I told the volunteers at her birthday party today, “When I grow up I want to be just like Mil”.

To find out how you can make friends and have fun with the Food Bank, visit www.foodbankccs.org/gethelp.

20 Creative Ways to Save with Leftovers

Written by Lauren Strouse, Fairfield Office Assistant: I grew up learning to cook in a household where leftovers were part of the menu plan in order to stretch the family food dollar. My mother didn’t waste food. As a young parent, I did the same thing, both to save money as well as time.  Reconfiguring ingredients that are already cooked can save you a lot of time on a busy weeknight. leftoversHere are some ways to save money by turning the food you have on hand into brand new dishes.

  • Use leftover roasted chicken to make chicken and noodle casserole, chicken a la king, chicken soup, or enchiladas.
  • Roast pork, beef or ham can be used in sandwiches, stews, soup, or to stuff a pita.
  • Combine leftover shredded or cubed roast beef with golden mushroom soup, sautéed onions and mushrooms and a little wine or water to make a sauce for egg noodles; add a little sour cream and you almost have stroganoff.
  • Remember hash? Add cubed leftover beef to cubed or sliced sautéed potatoes and onion.
  • Cubed ham can go into pasta and rice dishes, omelets and sandwiches or pair with potatoes.
  • Leftover rice or other grains like barley or faro can be combined with fresh or frozen vegetables and a little cubed pork, ham, or chicken to make fried rice.
  • Create a southwestern style casserole with leftover rice mixed with cream of chicken soup, canned green chilies, a bit of sour cream, grated jack cheese, beans (black, kidney or pinto), leftover chicken, plus seasonings like cumin and chili powder.
  • Combine rice with ground beef or turkey, a little soy sauce, cream of celery soup, celery, onion, green beans or pea pods, and water chestnuts, for mock chow mein. Top with some crispy noodles for crunch.
  • Leftover fresh or frozen vegetables can go into soups or stews and pasta dishes.
  • Cooked asparagus, artichoke hearts, zucchini, fennel, greens like spinach, and mushrooms are great in frittatas and omelets.
  • Toss leftover spinach and other greens straight into pasta sauces, bean and grain dishes to increase the nutritional value.
  • Leftover broccoli and cauliflower can be cooked with a little onion, garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese and served over spaghetti.  The trick is to reheat the veggies gently so you don’t overcook them.
  • Turn leftover vegetables into soup with sautéed onion and garlic. Cover with chicken broth, add whatever seasonings strike your fancy, cook until soft, puree, and thin if needed with milk (fat free evaporated is great for this and shelf stable).
  • Find yourself with half a loaf of bakery bread? Make a sweet or savory bread pudding or a strata. Layer the bread with leftover meat, veggies and cheese, soak it with an egg/milk mixture, then bake. The sweet version incorporates dried or fresh fruits like apples and cherries or even pumpkin.
  • Turn leftover bread into bread crumbs and keep them in your freezer to use in meatloaf or meatballs, or when a bread crumb mixture is called for in a recipe.
  • Do you have pound cake or angel food cake getting stale? Cube the cake and layer it in parfait or dessert glasses with vanilla pudding and fresh fruit like berries or bananas. Add some almonds or other nuts for crunch along with whipped cream on top.
  • Add leftover beef stew to a deep baking dish, make or buy pie crust, top the stew with pie crust, bake, and you have beef pot pie.
  • Make an easy shepherd’s pie with leftover mashed potatoes.  Cook ground meat with onion, a little garlic and add veggies like peas, carrots or green beans. Spread the potatoes on top and bake until the potatoes are golden and the pie is bubbling.
  • Mix leftover mashed potatoes with an egg and a bit of flour, shape into patties and fry to make mashed potato pancakes. Add shredded salmon or chicken and a bit of onion for potato croquettes.
  • Leftover polenta can be cut and fried or layered in a baking dish with tomato sauce, cheese, sliced cooked vegetables like eggplant and zucchini, spinach or chard, onions and mushrooms and then baked to create a kind of lasagna (just be very light handed with the sauce).

Save yourself some money and learn to utilize your leftovers. Let your creative juices flow and create delicious “planned over” dishes for your family.

Event Recaps, Fun = Food!

Souper Bowl of Caring

During the week of Super Bowl Sunday schools and churches nationwide participated in the “Souper Bowl of Caring” by collecting money and/or food for their local charities. This year eight churches chose the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano as their charity beneficiary all together raising $6,371.28 and 290# of food! Thank you to all who participated in tackling hunger in our community this year.

Concord High Dinner Dance

Concord High Band Boosters with help from Concord High’s Instrumental Music Program let the good times roll at their Mardi Gras Dinner Dance on February 22nd to benefit our Food Bank as well as the high school’s five music programs. Everyone enjoyed the festive decorations and food but nothing could compete with the amazing music being played by the 135 very talented students in the Jazz Ensemble, Stage Band and Orchestra who believe that music is food for the soul.

 Empty Bowls

A big Thank You to the more than 300 people who attended our Empty Bowls events in Concord and Fairfield to share a table with new friends, sample  tasty soups out of beautifully handcrafted bowls, and learn more about the local faces of hunger.  We were able to raise over $19,000 and are extremely grateful to be on the receiving end of so much support from our community!

 

Congratulations Solano County Employees!

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We think it is never too late to give thanks and congratulations for an amazing deed! Congratulations to Solano County employees for winning the 10th annual Counties Care Holiday Food Fight! Contra Costa and Solano county employees raised a grand total of $133,528.96 during the 2013 holiday season. On a per capita basis, Solano County employees raised $10.64 per employee while Contra Costa County employees staged a valiant fight coming in at $10.14 per employee. Solano County won bragging rights and possession of the coveted Big Apple trophy for another year. Thank you county employees for faithfully fighting to end hunger in our counties.

Are You Starving?

Guest Post By Jenay RossMillions of people are at risk of hunger. 1 in 6 people suffer from it. Unemployment and poverty are to blame for food insecurity. And this issue doesn’t exist solely during the holidays when most people decide to donate and volunteer. It’s a year-round issue. All year, people need to find help so they can help themselves and the families they provide for.

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During my first day home for spring break in March, I attended my local food bank’s Empty Bowls, an annual informative fundraiser event. Attendees chose from a large selection of handcrafted bowls and were then served soup, which was super tasty. Here’s one of the bowls I chose for myself:

I’m very familiar with the work this food bank does. I volunteered often during middle school and high school. I dug through donated non-perishables and produce to decide what was suitable to be eaten by the food bank’s clients. I once organized a school and community-wide food drive. A few summers ago, I even interned in its PR department and was allowed the opportunity to interview  volunteers, agencies and hungry clients to craft stories from each perspective.

I try to remind myself how important it is to volunteer and to attend events such as Empty Bowls. It not only reminds me of how fortunate I am to eat whenever I please, but also how fortunate I am to be able to help others.

Please visit Feeding America to learn more about hunger in this country and how you can donate, volunteer and/or receive help.