Posts Tagged ‘SENCA-South East Nebraska Community Action’

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Is It All About the Need?

August 10th, 2009

You may recall I was asked to sit on the Advisory Board at the South East Nebraska Community Action Center. Our first meeting took place on Friday.  The agenda was not encouraging to me.

The meeting opened with the shocking announcement that the current cook who provides some 700 astonishingly creative, nutritious meals a month for Senior Citizens and Meals On Wheels has tendered her two weeks’ notice because she has found employment where she will earn more money and receive less hassle. There was a collective GASP across this community as the news quickly spread.

Then we discussed the empty shelves in the Food Pantry, the ginormous number of families who applied for assistance with Back To School needs.  There was discussion regarding the much needed “love” the building housing the Action Center needs.  We will be arranging a Fund Raiser.

On Friday morning I had learned about the new figures concerning the desperate need for using food stamps or SNAP, food commodities and food pantries.  It has gotten amazing media attention worldwide.  All in all, I felt quite glum at the end of the meeting.

I was cheered on Sunday when our church people came with bags and bags of school supplies, backpacks and offers to purchase other things to fill the need and the shelves.  We are already thinking ahead to Christmas and cold weather needs.

Unemployment may be “steadying” as the media has been reporting but in our neck of the woods there are hard working people who cannot afford to feed their families; there are people being laid off work; there are people who are sick and aging who need our support in concrete ways.

The Cooking Class we have scheduled may ease some of the stress and strain.  But that’s  just a drop in the bucket.  My heart is heavy that I cannot do more but I am following my passion and reaching out.  Pray with me that lives will be touched and made better and that things will improve dramatically and soon.

Meantime, I want to share with you a wonderful idea for using the ample supply of zucchini that seems to abound.  Our Mexican neighbor, who promises to teach me some of their best techniques, told me about this:

TORRES’ ZUCCHINI DISH

Wash the zucchini and chop off the ends.  Cut the vegetable into cubes and cook til tender.  Drain the liquid and put your favorite kind of cheese into the warm pot and let them melt.  Senor Torres likes to use taco flavored cheese he buys in 5 pound blocks but he says any cheese will work.

He also told me he fills tortillas with this mixture, along with a few cooked beans and eats them out of hand.  MMMM!

I’m excited to get into the kitchen to try this one!

Boys and girls, you have done such a marvelous job of inviting those in your sphere of influence into the Clubhouse!  Thank you so much!  If you care to post a comment here, you are more than welcome to do so!  If you prefer to send a message to us at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com  that will be just fine and every bit as welcomed!

Thanks for stopping by to visit our partners; they appreciate your interest because they want to help you with bringing more money into your households.

Connie Baum

Food Commodities in YOUR Cupboard?

July 13th, 2009

Each day when the first wave of emails hits my computer I am always eager to see what’s cooking!  I am blessed to receive a number of messages from recipe sites.  Today I found something suitable for these hot muggy days but it was way to ‘chi chi poo poo’ for us commoners!  So I thought I would trot out one of my mother’s old standby favorites for a cold dish on a hot day:  Salmon Salad.

As you know, we are landlocked here in Nebraska and the closest we come to having anything seaworthy is the Nebraska Navy.  We don’t have access to fresh seafood on a tight budget-many of us are using food commodities, food pantries, the SNAP program and maybe even Angel Food Ministries.  Even the coupons for the Farmers Markets do not gain access to salmon, for crying out loud!  My mother always used canned salmon but she also made this dish with tuna.  She even used ground beef.  She also subscribed to the theory you can cook once and eat twice.  Cold ground or roast beef in a salad is quite tasty.

Here’s how Mom made her SALMON SALAD:

1 package of pasta.  Mom was partial to shell macaroni.  Use what YOU like: Bow ties? Elbows? Rotini?  Cook it according to package directions, rinse with cold water and drain.

1 medium cucumber, washed and rough chopped-the goodness is just under the peeling.  This time of year people are BEGGING folks to help them use up their zucchini squashes from the gardens!  Great substitute!  Or, use both.

1 can salmon, drained and mashed with a fork-Mom always removed the bones

1 tomato, roughly chopped

1 rib of celery, finely chopped

*Optional: 2 or 3 rings of red onion-white or yellow will work, if you have some on hand

1 pepper, rough chopped-red is pretty but green are cheaper and plentiful in the garden these days

Salt and pepper to taste

I can still see Mom assembling this mixture into the big yellow mixing bowl and tossing it ever so lovingly.  She dressed it with mayonnaise but your family’s favorite will work just fine.  She used to put lettuce leaves or cabbage leaves on the “good dishes” to make lunch or supper feel like a special occasionWhen she made this dish for guests, she added just a sprinkle of celery seed.  Sometimes she would arrange hard cooked eggs on the top of the serving bowl and pass the dish at the table. She often served lemonade with this salad because of the balance of flavors between the salmon and the lemon.

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No doubt YOU have family favorites that were simple and budget friendly.  We would love to have you share those.  Just drop us an email at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com;  it will make our day!

You are always welcome to post your comment on this blog, too.  We remind you that comments must be moderated so they do not always appear instantly!  If you are shy, you may remain anonymous.

All of you have been generous to share the Food Stamps Cooking Club website with your networks and we so appreciate it because when folks visit that site and enter their name and email address they are able to receive the little messages we send to our people.  We never mean to impose but when we find something worth sharing we can give our people a shout out!

Our partners are very pleased that you have paid some mind to them, too.  Thank you so much, everybody.

Plans are in the works for the event sponsored by SENCA later this month here in Southeast Nebraska, as well as our second round of  Cooking Classes!  Watch for that date to be announced!

Connie Baum