Participants were cooking up a storm in the kitchen at St. Paul’s United Church Monday, during the Cooking Without the Box spring workshop.
Members of the Tillsonburg Resource Network (TRN) brought together residents and celebrated local chefs Tracy Winkworth of The Belworth House in Waterford, Michael Zajac of the Causeway Restaurant in Long Point and Amber Kraan of Niko’s in Tillsonburg, to help teach inexpensive and nutritious way to prepare meals.
Beginning in 2009, several Cooking Without the Box workshops are now held throughout the year and provide a theme upon which to create and cook their meals. Monday’s workshop included a food bank theme.
“We brought the food from the food bank and this cooking workshop is going to show people what they can do with food.” said Joan Clarkson, coordinator for the Helping Hand Food Bank. “What it’s doing is it’s taking our food that we give out at the food bank and making good use of it, adding the right vegetables, the right protein, and everything together to make a good, nutritious meal,” she said noting the feedback she heard from participants. “They’re all thrilled to find out the different ways to make things. They’ve come together as a community and they’re learning.”
Area farmers helping out Monday included Spearit Farms; Ray and Brenda Lammens, Y U Ranch; Bryan and Cathy Gilvesy and VG Meats, the Van Groningen Family.
Chef Tracy Winkworth was one of three chefs invited to share their skills, knowledge and experience with meal preparation and cooking techniques during the Cooking Without the Box workshop on Monday.
“We got a list of all the items that are found at the food bank and we just wanted to do a twist on it with the addition of fresh ingredients,” said Winkworth. “We didn’t want to make our recipes too complicated – we have to be mindful of skill sets too and what is going to be the most feasible and easiest way for them.”
There was a total of 41 participants - 35 adults and six children who joined TRN members and the guests chefs for the cooking workshop, making several dishes including salads, pasta dishes, soups, chili, meatloaf and pork chops. In addition to pastas and meat, there was a variety of fresh vegetables used, such as lentils and local asparagus.
“The asparagus could go into a salad, could be enjoyed with a little salt and pepper or with veggies and dip,” said Winkworth.
“With the Lentil soup, I really wanted to bring this to the table because I think it’s one of those things that you end up getting and you just don’t know what to do with it. It’s so rich in protein and vitamins.”
In addition to the main meals and salads, participants learned how to prepare fast, easy and enjoyable desserts for the entire family.
“We also did an applesauce cake – it’s teaching them the ingredients, and the spices in there like vanilla and cinnamon,” said Winkworth. “Then we did a no bake oatmeal cookie. These are chocolate oatmeal macaroons, they are a no bake cookie so this is even good for kids too.”
Winkworth said the workshop was a great way to introduce basic, simple cooking techniques that will help make dinner time a family affair, and keep families at home enjoying healthy, home-cooked meals.
“If they can walk away with one tool or tip that they’ve learned here, then I think we’ve done our job today,” said Winkworth. “They’re very interested – the numbers are staying up there so you can see that there is real interest to learn some basic tools and cooking techniques.”