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March newsletter

  Well we are heading off into March with spring just around the corner.  It already seems like spring here in the Cowichan Valley, I think we skipped winter this year, perhaps we should cross our fingers and hope it stays this way.

Amanda is busy planting in CCK’s plot at the Centennial Park Community Garden.  We are looking forward to some fresh veggies and herbs this year.  Linda has left her position as assistant co-ordinator of the oven, so we are hoping to find someone to assist Amanda.  We wish Linda lots of luck in her new endeavours.

Brie has only one kitchen at Warmland House now, and instead of referring to themselves just as the Warmland kitchen they have chosen Baking Buddies as their name.  The other three kitchens have been carrying on as usual.

I have shared the Chinese Noodle Casserole with you in the past, but I’m not sure when and since my group made it this month using chicken instead of ground beef I thought I would refresh your memory concerning this dish and pass on that idea.  Remember this recipe can be made solely with vegetables as well.


Serves 4


2 Tbsp. Cooking Oil

1 Cup Diced Celery

1 Cup Chopped Onions

1 Lb. Ground Beef or

1 Cup Chopped, Cooked


10 0z. Condensed Tomato  


10 oz. Cream of Mushroom


2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

4 oz. Canned Chow Mein Noodles*

 Dry Chow Mein Noodles 

Optional:  1 Cup of either:

Broccoli, Mushrooms, Carrots*,

Bean Sprouts, Pea Pods, and any other vegetables

 with an oriental flare.

Or a combination of veggies

 for a vegetarian meal.

1.   Heat cooking oil in frying pan.  Add celery, onion and beef.  Brown. If using cooked chicken simply cook celery, onions and any other raw vegetables that may need partial cooking until tender crisp.

2.   Add tomato soup, mushroom soup, soy sauce, noodles and any other vegetables you are using. Stir to combine.  Pour into 1 ½ quart casserole.

3.   Crush dry noodles and sprinkle over all. Bake uncovered in 350ºF oven for 45 minutes.

*Dry noodles may be used, ¾ of a bag softened in water or broth.  Can be used dry, but casserole will be drier as noodles will soak up moisture.  Remaining ¼ of bag can be used for topping.

*If using carrots you may want to cook them with the celery onions and beef to ensure they are tender enough. 



January Newsletter

I was looking back at our newsletters from last January and February and was reminded of the goals we set for ourselves.  We had planned on staring up 5 new kitchens this past year but unfortunately not only did we not succeed in this but we lost two – The Honeymooners in Honeymoon Bay – one of our oldest kitchens and Growing Together.  We did however add a second kitchen in Warmland.

Two major events were held at the Cob Oven in Centennial Park this year – The Walk of The Nations on May 31, and The Culinary Festival on Oct. 4. On December 21st, Amanda and Linda hosted a Winter Solstice Cocoa in the Park.

The event was well attended by neighbours and new friends.  Many of the persons who helped create and build the Cob Oven/Kitchen dropped by as well.  We have pictures which I will share with you next newsletter.

Lets start the New year with a simple recipe.  This is a new take on an old favourite, the whipped egg whites and cream give the potatoes a nice fluffy and moist texture. I hope you enjoy it.

2 Med. Yellow Onions, minced

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter       plus 3 Tbsp.& extra for dotting

1 ½ Lbs. Ground Beef

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1 Cup Dried Red Bell Pepper

1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic

½ Cup Rich Beef Stock

1 Can Creamed Corn

 2 eggs, separated

½ Cup Heavy Cream (32%)

6 Large Potatoes, boiled and mashed

1.   In a pan on stove, sauté onions in 3 tbsp. butter until golden.  Add beef and brown well.

2. Add Worcestershire sauce, bell pepper, garlic and stock, stirring to combine.  Remove from heat.

3. Butter a 9×11-inch casserole dish and spread beef in it; top with creamed corn.

4. Stir ½ cup butter, egg yolks and cream into mashed potatoes.                                                                                                 5. Whip egg whites to soft peak and fold into potato mixture.

Spread potato mixture over creamed corn layer and dot with butter.

6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350F.  Then broil until potatoes are browned, 2 to 3 minutes.




December newsletter

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is upon us and like everyone else we are busy making plans. Some of our kitchens will be having their usual Christmas bake while others will be doing a combination cook/bake.

Our Cob Oven managers are planning a Winter Solstice gathering on December 21 at the Cob Oven in Centennial Park. Hot drinks and sweets will be served between 11:00 and 2:00. Everyone is welcome.

After a very busy summer and autumn I’m looking forward to a little relaxation this winter, starting with my Christmas bake. The recipe that I’m including this month actually needs no baking. It is one that my group has been doing for three years now. I hope you enjoy it.

Makes 25 or 36 Squares

1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Chips or Butterscotch Chips
½ Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
¼ Cup Butter or hard Marg.
9 oz. (250g.) Bag of Miniature
Multi-Coloured Marshmallows

1.Heat first 3 ingredients in a large heavy saucepan on lowest heat, stirring often, until almost melted.
2.Remove from heat. Stir until smooth. Let stand for about 15 minutes, until lukewarm.
3.Add marshmallows. Stir until coated. Press firmly into foil-lined 9×9 inch pan.
4.Chill until firm. Cut 5 across and 5 down for 25 squares or cut 6 across and 6 down to make 36 1 ½” by 1 ½” square.

November newsletter

We’ve just finished a busy month. We teamed up this month with Cowichan Greens Community for the Culinary Festival on October 4th at our Cob Oven/Kitchen in Centennial Park. The event was made possible by a grant from the Koerner Foundation. This grant also made it possible for staff and clients to attend three workshops this month conducted by Chef Zak Zorisky.

Zak also prepared 500 servings of Chicken Cheese Tortillas and Roast Tomato, Zucchini and Kale Salad for the Culinary Festival. Community Kitchens prepared and served three soups : Bessie’s Winter Soup; Beans and Greens Soup; and Squash Soup. We dished out 150 – 300 servings of soup and approximately 400 servings of Apple Crisp for dessert.
We also served bread and sweets from True Grain Bakery in Cowichan Bay.

Nelly Pardo from Cowichan Greens did a magnificent job coordinating the entire event.

CCK would like to thank Guy Johnston of Community Supported Fisheries for the wonderful donation of salmon for our kitchens.

Since it is salmon season I am going to include a salmon recipe, and even though it calls for canned salmon we have substituted for fresh.
Approximately 1 ½ cups of fresh salmon should equal two tins.

(Makes 1 Loaf)
2 Cans Salmon
2 Eggs
½ Cup Celery, Finely Chopped
1/2 Cup Onion, Finely Chopped
Dash Salt and Pepper
Dash of Worchestershire sauce, if desired
1 Cup Soft Bread Crumbs (torn from 2-3 slices of bread)

1.Mash Salmon, Liquid and bones in a bowl.
2.Add everything else and blend well.
3.Put into a lightly greased casserole or loaf pan.
4.Bake in oven at 350F for 40-45 minutes or until top is browned.

October Newsletter

Happy Thanksgiving
Happy Halloween

We’d like to remind everyone of the Culinary Festival on Saturday October 4 at Centennial Park between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

We have no news and like they say no news is good news.

Since it is pumpkin and squash season I am going to share one of our pumpkin soup recipes with you. The pumpkin can be substituted for squash.

Serves 6
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil Med. Onion, finely chopped
1 Med. Pear or Apple, cut into
small cubes. 2 Tbsp. finely Chopped Ginger
1 Tbsp. Curry Power
2 tsp. Flour or Cornstarch
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1(14 oz.) Can Pumpkin
1 Tbsp. Honey, or to taste
¼ Cup Light Cream or ½ Cup
Coconut Milk
Salt and freshly cracked Black
Pepper to taste.

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, pear and ginger and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Stir in curry powder and flour until well combined. Slowly stir in the stock.
3. Stir in the pumpkin and honey. Simmer soup 25 to 30 minutes.
4. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper. If desired, garnish each bowl with a few thin slices of pear, a drizzle of cream and a small sprig of parsley.

Options: Substitute fresh pumpkin puree for the canned, or use Butternut Squash instead. Add more or less curry depending on fondness for spice. Substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock.

September newsletter

Would you believe we have had the Cob Oven/Kitchen for a year?
Last September we held our Pizza Bake to Christen the oven, we have had three more since then. The Kitchen has proven quite popular. We’ve had several bookings since the warm weather began this past spring.

Amanda is our booking “agent” and she can be contacted at

The Cowichan Green Community will be using the kitchen to host the Cowichan Community Culinary Festival on Oct. 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.. There will be chefs doing demonstrations using locally produced foods. We will be putting together a cook book for Cob Oven Cooking.

Anyone wishing to attend can contact Nelly Pardo at Deadline for registration is Friday Sept. 5. Food safe courses are also available, information can be obtained at same contact.

Lori, Lynn, Sandra and Shannon are still facilitating their kitchens, Lisa has taken over Nicole’s Warmland kitchen and we may have a new kitchen connected to the Cob Oven, it will be facilitated by another new member, Erin, who is currently taking care of our garden patch at the Community Gardens at Centennial Park.

Some of our groups continued through the summer. The recipe I am including today is one that my group made this past month. I hope you enjoy it.

Serves 4
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
2 Lg. Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts,cut into strips
2 Cups Thinly Sliced Celery
2 Cups Thinly Sliced Carrot
1 Small Red or Green Pepper. Cut into thin strips
1 Small Onion, Sliced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/3 Cup cider or white vinegar
¼ Cup sugar
½ Cup Water
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tsp. Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Grated Fresh Ginger

1. Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan.
2. Over med-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for about 1 min. until sauce gets thick and clear.

1. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet at med-high heat. Add chicken and cook until no pink remains.
2. Add celery and carrots, stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add pepper, onion and garlic. Stir and cook for a few more minutes.
3. Add sauce and cook until heated through.
4. Serve over steamed rice or noodles.
* You can use ½ tsp. powdered ginger instead of fresh ginger.

July newsletter

Summer is here (officially 3 days from now) and some of our kitchens will be having thee last cooks this month. Three of us have decided to continue through the summer or at least part of it.

Many of us have been preparing salads and other summery dishes these past two months. One of the dishes my group made was this cole slaw recipe which includes fruit in its ingredients, an attraction to children and others who are not particularly fond of veggies. We made it in May when Country Grocer had a sale on multi-coloured carrots. These are heritage vegetables and have a slightly different taste than regular carrots. They worked well in this cole slaw and provided some nice colour as well. They are still available in some stores so look around and give them a try.

Serves 12

1/2 cabbage
4 Carrots
1 Apple
1 Orange
1/2 Cup Raisins
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Yogurt

1. Quarter cabbage, remove core, slice thinly, cut across shreds about 1″.
2. Grate carrots. Cube apples, Place on top of cabbage and carrots in bowl.
3. Peel oranges, cut over apples so juice coats apples.
4. Add raisins, mayonnaise and yogurt. Mix well.

June newsletter

It’s not officially summer for another 25 days but you wouldn’t know it by the weather. We’ve had some wonderfully warm weather lately and we at Community Kitchens are hoping it continues to the end of this month (I’m writing this on May 27th) since we have been asked to bake pizzas at the Cob Oven for the Walk of Nations Event this weekend (the 31st). I’ll let you know how it goes in next months newsletter.

We have two new staff members, Linda is our Cob Oven Coordinator and Erin will be assisting her and possibly facilitate a kitchen.

If you’re like me you’re probably thinking more about barbecuing than indoor cooking and it’s getting hard to think about recipes that have to be cooked inside, but our Dish It Up group came up with a new one that looks quite good. This recipe was submitted by one of their members and I’m looking forward to trying it. I hope you enjoy it.

Serves 4

4 Chicken Breasts, cut up*
3 Tbsp Butter
1 Large Onion, diced
1 Tsp. Jalapeño Pepper
2 Tsp. Garlic
1 Tsp. Ginger
1 Tsp. Salt
½ Tsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Curry Powder
1 Cup Tomato Sauce
1 Cup Whipping Cream or
1 Tbsp. Fresh Cut Cilantro
3 Carrots, sliced
2 Potatoes, cubed

1. Melt butter and saute´ onions, pepper, ginger, garlic and carrots (if using) until onions are translucent.
2. Add curry powder and paprika, stir until fragrant.
3. Add tomato sauce, salt, cut up chicken and potatoes (if using), slowly bring to a boil, simmer 20 to 25 minutes until chicken is almost done.
4. Add cream and simmer until chicken is cooked. About 15 additional minutes.
5. Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.
* Cut chicken into desired size.

May newsletter

We have completed our stats for April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, and we found we cooked less this year than last. The good news is that this is probably due to fewer people needing our services, as we have lost one of our original kitchens this past year.

The Honeymooners in Honeymoon Bay have folded, and this was due to the fact that the last remaining participants were there for the social benefits and then found their calendars too full so they opted to leave the kitchen. This kitchen served the community for almost 20 years providing many seniors and young mothers with extra meals to help stretch their budgets. It was sad to see it close.

We did prepare 5101 meals compared to 5834 for 2012 – 2013, so there is not a great difference. Not all kitchens had a Christmas Bake this year. Those of us who did baked a combined total of 1640 pieces of baked goods.

My kitchen strted out our new year with a new recipe. This is one I discovered on the Bisquick web site after a friend told me about some of the recipes she had tried. I happened to notice this one the same week that pork tenderloin was on sale at Country Grocer and since we are always looking for recipes involving something other than ground beef this one looked perfect, and it turned out great. I hope you enjoy it also.

Serves 8

2 Lb. Pork Tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ Tsp. Salt
¼ Cup Flour
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Large Sweet Onion, chopped
2 Poblano Chiles, seeded, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 Tsp. Dried Oregano Leaves
½ Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Can Black Beans, drained,rinsed
2 Pkgs. (10 oz. each) frozen Cream-Style Sweet Corn,thawed
2 Eggs, slightly beaten
½ Cup Bisquick Heart Smart
½ Cup Milk

1. Heat oven to 425ºF. Spray 8 (8 oz) ramekins with cooking spray.
2. Sprinkle pork with salt; coat with flour.
3. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook pork in oil, in batches, 5 minutes or until browned.
4. Return all pork to skillet. Stir in onion, chiles, garlic, oregano and cumin. Cook 3 minutes.
5. Gradually stir in broth, loosening particles from bottom of skillet. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken. Heat to boiling; stir in beans.
6. Remove from heat. Divide mixture among ramekins.
7. In medium bowl, stir corn, eggs, Bisquick mix and milk with wire whisk until combined.
8. Spoon over pork mixture in each ramekin. Place ramekins on cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until golden.

April newsletter


Another winter is over and I hope you are all enjoying the longer days and milder weather.

We have a few new members in two of our kitchens otherwise everything is pretty much the same. Since there is no thing new to report I will use this space for two recipes this month.

The first one is a really nice vegetable pasta sauce, and if you’re looking for an alternative to the same old pasta you might want to try the Gnocchi recipe that I’m including.

Yield: 12 Cups

¼ Cup Olive Oil
2 Med. Onions, chopped
4 Lg. Carrots, thinly sliced
4 Green or Red Bell Peppers,
cored, seeded, and chopped
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Med. Zucchini, sliced &
½ Lb. Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
6 Cups Tomato Sauce*
½ Cup Red Wine or Apple Juice
1Tbsp. Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp. Dried Thyme
½ Tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1.In a large skillet, heat the oil and saute´the onions, carrots, bell peppers, and garlic for 10 minutes.
2.Add the zucchini and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.
3.Stir in the tomato sauce, wine, oregano, thyme, and black pepper.
4.Simmer, uncovered for 20 – 25 minutes.
5.Serve over hot pasta or divide and freeze for later use.
* Can use crushed tomatoes for a thicker sauce or half of each.
** Can use non-alcohol wine.
Time: 50 minutes.

Serves 4

1-2 Lbs. Potatoes, unpeeled
1 Egg, lightly beaten
2 Tsp. Butter
2 ¼ Cups Flour
1 Tsp. Salt

1. Cook potatoes (in skins) in boiling water till tender.
2. Drain. Cool slightly. Peel. Mash until no lumps remain.
3. Make a well in center of mashed potatoes. Put egg, butter, flour and salt into well. Mix into soft dough.
4. Shape into long rolls (finger thick). Cut into 1” lengths.
5. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add several gnocchi. When they rise to the top, they are cooked. Scoop out, keep warm until serving.
6. Serve tossed with a tomato sauce, butter, basil and parmessan cheese, or your favourite pasta sauce.