All I want for Christmas…

Baked apples stuffed with raisins

Baked apples stuffed with raisins

I continue to be overwhelmed. Tonight, I’m off shopping by 9s with the $2692 you gave. Please don’t stop. There so much more we can do.

What could you NOT live without? Your kitchen MUST have? Tweet me @cynthiastrawson and I’ll add it to the list.

I can believe how amazing you are. This reinforces to me the cumulative power of many small acts.

Thank you to all, for your donations via PayPal…$1,502 has come in from across Canada and I recognize fewer than half the names! Supplies dropped off at my house, at my office, phone calls. It’s not stopping, nor do I want it to. My mom brought 9 bottles of hand moisturizer. My friend and esthetician donated 9 eyebrow waxes.

First shopping round done. Wrapping party on Sunday. Delivery on Monday. Whew!

What can a girl say that hasn’t already been said?

Since November 12, 2012, eight Slow Food Edmonton volunteer chefs and foodies (including myself and a volunteer Registered Dietitian) have held hands-on cooking classes each Monday night at LaSalle Shelter, a down town Edmonton woman’s shelter.

The shelter kindly provides childcare during the class time (4-6) and then the children and staff join us for a communal meal from 6-7.

For a month, I have proudly watched 9 mothers learn how to cook healthy, cost effective meals using local ingredients. In my heart I know that when we teach women how to care for themselves, we are uplifting a whole family and a whole community. This is my greatest joy.

Last night was our fourth class and penultimate class. We made cheesy polenta (which many women had never had) and served it with a soft poached egg, spinach and homemade tomato sauce. Mary Bailey and Maria Iacobelli, our guest chefs, taught us how to make baked apples. The apples were devoured by the families, and even the 5-year olds got involved by helping scoop ice cream and (generously) dispense whipped cream.

I love the laughter and chatter and sharing in the room. What a gift to share in this time of a woman’s life when she has taken the most difficult step towards empowering herself. Women at many shelters – this shelter included – have left homes of violence. Some walk out the doors of their homes with nothing but slippers, pyjamas & their children in their arms. I can’t imagine more courage, and more heart.

We are re-building a community around food. We share stories and experiences about food. We focus on getting local food into people’s hands, show them how to make healthy meals, and live by example the belief that it is better to eat together.

I’m a Nutrition MSc student at the U of A (as well as leader of Slow Food Edmonton) and so last night we discussed eggs and how the colour of the yolk changes depending on the chicken’s feed (this is an interesting topic for the women who are new to Canada as “Canadian” eggs have very pale yolks compared with European yolks which are much darker owing to the enhanced level of betacarotene in the chicken’s feed); the science behind “omega 3 eggs”; identifying the chalazae, yolk, and albumen; how to identify when an egg has gone bad; nutritional qualities of albumen and yolk.

We have pickled carrots and beets, made vegetable soup from scratch, made roasted root vegetable lasagna and churned our own butter (using the butter milk to make baking powder biscuits!).

The series wraps up on December 10 where we’ll learn to cook a turkey. At that time, I would dearly love to present the participating women with a basket of kitchen tools we have used throughout the series so they can continue to cook from scratch after they move on to their new homes. (One woman mentioned during the baking powder biscuit class that she didn’t have a measuring cup, nor did she know the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon!!)

As a survivor of family violence in my youth, I feel a strong connection to these women and to the value it creates for our whole community. Every woman deserves the tools she needs to transition to a life on her own, the agency and confidence to feed herself and her family.

I estimate that with $2500 we could get everything on the list of items below for 9 women. If you can help, thank you.

MY WISH LIST (9 of each) for what I dream about as a Kitchen Transition Kit of Empowerment!!

Dish towel
Tea towel
Measuring spoons
Measuring cups
Cutting board (preferably wooden)
• Can opener
Wooden spoon
Silicon spatula
Paring knife
Vegetable peeler
Liquid measuring cup (2 cup, pyrex)
Cookie sheet, aka Jelly Roll Pan (10 x 15, up to 3/4″ deep, here’s great post on what makes a good one)
Cake pan (9 x 13)
Slotted spoon (for lifting pasta or poached eggs out of boiling water)
Serving spoon (for dishing out the goods!)
Ziplock containers (for leftovers)
Frying pan (non stick or cast iron)
Cheese grater
Sauce brush (I use a blue silicon one for spreading oil or bbq sauce or butter)
Roasting pan
Parchment paper
• Laundry hamper or Rubbermaid box for carrying it all
• Food processor (Gotta dream big!!)
Italian herb blend
Slow Food Edmonton apron
Hot pot holder
• Soup Pot
• Cookbook
• Trivet

The stuff at the top is a higher priority. I’ll cross items off the list (see bottom of post) as they’re purchased or someone has committed to buying them.

How you can help
I’m looking for help in two ways
1) Buying 9 of any one item
2) Cash donations

If you would prefer to donate cash, I will collect your name and address so that Catholic Social Services can issue you a tax receipt. Just tell me how much you’re donating and I’ll take it into account when I shop for things later this week.

Contact me
Twitter: @cynthiastrawson
Office: Cash can be dropped at my University of Alberta office at Enterprise Square (1-050, 10230 Jasper Avenue in Edmonton)

15 responses to “All I want for Christmas…

    • Cash may be the easiest. My office is 1-050, 10230 Jasper Ave. In the old Bay Building. If that’s hard to get to, I might be able to find a friend to come pick up any donation you might have. Thank you so much for helping out!!

  1. Phil Wilson has gotten in touch with me – I’ll donate sleeves of Food You Can Cook Spice blends (3 jars per sleeve) for each of the women, which will include Roma, my Italian herb blend. – Elaine Wilson

  2. I’m putting the word out to as many folks as I can reach about this. Cynthia, you’ve done something pretty amazing here. I’m tearing up just reading the updates!

  3. I read back because this post started as an update – and I wanted to find the “announcement”… but, did not. It must have been done through Twitter. Sorry I am so busy with my family this year… Social Media works Magic!
    Kudos to you!!!! Your work will make an incredible difference in the lives of those remarkable woman this year.

  4. Done! this is so amazing! I believe in health and nutrition but it needs to start with education! Anything I can do to help I would love to! I would love to assist in cooking classes as well!
    I also just donated as well 😉

    I al

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