It felt sooooo good to be back in Montreal! You have no idea. It didn’t take long for me to settle back into the kitchen. I was so excited to be back to my lovely home with fantastic roommates to cook for, overflowing dumpsters to raid, new recipes to experiment with, and visitors to keep fed during our various events.
Shortly after my arrival we hosted a house show for some very talented musicians. I made a two-layered cake but drama ensued as I tried to create an icing with funky ingredients that didn’t want to set. It was like a volcano of Pepto Bismol. (Note to self – Don’t mix strange ingredients together to create icing on the fly,and don’t make two individual cakes but rather one big one cut in half for an even side). I was embarrassed and slightly freaking out as I tried to scoop off the excess pink slur as it tried to leak off the plate. Thankfully the addition of cherries and almond slivers saved its image, and while the cake was very, VERY sweet, people enjoyed it. Whew. What a comeback.
While this may look like a failed attempt at a dessert, this upsidedown pear crisp was inspired by a recipe I saw on the French food channel Zeste (which I spent half a day watching upon return to Quebec, a pit-stop at my mom’s in Laval). Bosc pears embedded with a syrup of butter, brown sugar and maple syrup with cloves and maple alcohol, with a butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, oat crisp bottom. It was supposed to be made with a pie-crust-but-not-really-type-bottom but I had none of that so I made a crisp bottom instead. Absolutely devine, caramelized edges included and everything. My second attempt with small sliced apples was much prettier than this odd-shaped pear star, and just as good.
I just love my home =). Everyone here loves to cook and is great at it, not to mention fun to work with, so we make a heck of a team. Here’s one of my roommates Michael with his girlfriend and my room subletter enoying homemade pakoras (fried veggie explosions of crispy flavor) with steak sauce and plum sauce, tabouleh, prosciutto cream cheese rolls and home-brewed beer. Epic super.
The best dumpster run I’ve had so far is the first one I had when I got back home, with one of my roommates John and his friend Franky at a neighboring grocery store. This looks like a lot of food but there’s actually more behind Franky on a shelf, as well as more on the floor. Seriously, this was insane. We had to keep each other from yelling out our excitement at the dumpster. Expensive cereal, fruit juice, soy milk, tuna cans, yogurt, protein bars, sliced meat and sausages, various fruits and veggies, quality chocolates, whole grain breads, ramen packages, salad dressings, fancy condiments, sauces, and lots lots more including deodorant and food colorant. It goes without needing to say that we had a feast that evening.
Here’s another haul! Lots of Greek yogurt, fruits and veggies and pita bread. My plans to eat moderately were thrown out the window when I got back home, overflowing with dumpstered goods. How could I say no to all these delicious dumpstered goods?? And yes, I am now back to being an omnivore! A freegan, really. I eat what I scavenge. I don’t cook with meat, but I’ll eat it on occasion if someone offers me some or we dumpster some.
One of the things that are rare but a wonderful find in dumpsters is cheese. It just so happens that my roommates hit the cheese motherload a week earlier, so we had a plethora of cheese squeezed in all crannies of the fridge and freezer. With some lovely pizza breads I dumpstered, I got in the habit of making daily pizzas for a while, including this masterpiece. A-mazing pizza.
I also had my first try at making a chutney with a bunch of mangos we got. Made with -duh- mangoes, onions, raisins, sugar, vinegar, salt and a variety of spices, simmered for an hour with regular stirring. The result was a surprising success, gaining “best-chutney-ever” feedback which highly pleased me. I’m looking forward to perfecting this recipe and sharing it here with you all.
It wasn’t long before I asked for permission to host weekly communal suppers. No need for them to be potlucks as we had so much food, I got in the habit of spending a whole day in the kitchen cooking up various goods with dumpstered ingredients, gaining some aid from others to chop, clean, or create their own dish (such as John’s awesome 50′s pineapple moraschino cheery ham haha), and sharing our feast with friends and strangers.
I’ve hosted three suppers so far, creating dishes to feed a dozen to two dozen people, such as cream of potato soup, cream of carrot soup, various salads, vegan whole wheat chocolate cupcakes, carrot cake, vegetable gratin, vegan rice pudding, orange cake, smoothies, baked potatoes, french onion soup with home-brewed beer, fruit yogurt salad and, and, a lot more. I love it. It makes me happy to put my patched-up apron on and cook all day, see people gather together for no better reason than to eat homemade recycled food and chat in a welcoming atmosphere, creating friendships and being food-inspired and just having a good time. I appreciate whatever thanks people throw my way but I find myself very humble about it. I just want to share, to get people together, to create opportunities. I’m surprised to realize that I haven’t been worrying over if my food is good enough or not – I know I have lots of experience in the kitchen and, I mean, it’s free food! =P
I jumped on the chance to work with Food Not Bombs again, this time with a crew at the co-op sur Genreux. We set up our tables on Mont-Royal street and got a surprising amount of interest, even more surprising – a great amount of people picking up panflets but not taking any food. They were genuinely interested in our cause. Of course the cops eventually came and gave us a visit, after getting a call from someone who thought we were starting a great manifestation and about to create a road block. What an idiot! What a ridiculous… Ugh! Couldn’t they take a moment to actually find out what it was they were complaining about first? Geez. I could atleast kinda understand the angry manager of the coffee shop infront of us who thought we were selling food and stealing his customers; More assumptions made without a moment’s thought or investigation. The cops were understanding to say the least, and let us continue our cause. It was a lovely warm grey day despite the slush and some rain drops. People enjoyed the food, learned something new. Volunteers laughed and shouted out their cause; Others stuffed their face with delicious food as they hung around on the wide sidewalk.
Noooo! I don’t want to say goodbye to this in 2 1/2 weeks time – I just got back! Yet I’m heading to Iceland at the end of the month to go to Iceland for 3 months. While that’s exciting, I’m sad to be temporarily leaving this wonderful community behind. I’ll try to bring some of it along with me to Iceland. I really do plan on settling down more when I get back… I swear!