Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Food Trucks for Families Helps Those in Need

I recently heard about New York City- based food trucks feeding the hungry in the City for free after Hurricane Sandy. While I was impressed with that, I was wondering if it takes a natural disaster for people to help the poor, the hungry and tired in their own communities.

Then, I came across Food Trucks For Families, and realized there are people who want to give back to their communities all the time.Craig Kimmel, owner of the Firehouse BBQ truck - which was voted "Best Barbecue" on Pit Masters last year -- started the organization. Food Trucks for Families plans to give 100 percent of the food trucks' entry fees ($100 each) to rotating charities and individuals in need. In addition, food trucks will donate leftover food from events to the hungry.

As a firefighter and paramedic, Kimmel says he is acutely aware of the numerous people in Orlando who need help. "There are over 500 homeless families in Seminole County, for example. If you know of a family in need - possibly even someone with medical needs who cannot pay the light bill that month - send in your request," Kimmel said. 

Orlando food trucks that plan to participate in some of the charity events include: The Flattery, The Crepe Co., Big Wheel, Twisted Cuban, Crabby Chris, Bem Bom, Yum Yum Cupcakes, Melissa's Waffles, Monsta Lobsta, and Saigon Sizzle. 

Food Trucks for Families' first event will be held at Northland Church, 530 Dog Track Rd. in Longwood, on December 8 from 5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Northland Church will use the donation to help feed the hungry. In addition, a food bank will be on hand to take leftover food from the event. I am so happy that this new organization is in our community and I urge all of my readers to help support it. Plus, you get to eat delicious food at the same time!

To find out about other Food Trucks for Families events, follow the organization on Twitter @FoodTrucks4Kids and on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/firehouse.bbq.9?fref=ts.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How to Make the Best Holiday Pie

I have always wanted to be one of those ladies - the one who brings the perfect-looking pie to the barbecue or family gathering. Now, I feel like I have more of the skills I need to do just that. I recently received a beautiful cookbook and instruction book, "How to Build a Better Pie", by Millicent Suris. She is the self-taught expert in making pie crusts and preparing all the various fillings - everything from fruit to nuts to meats. 

In her book, I learned how to make the best crumble topping for pies, how to make a shortbread crust (yum!), and how to make the basic pie crust. I was excited to read this book to not only learn techniques, but to find unique recipes that I don't see in magazines or on web sites such as Allrecipes.com. Suris did not disappoint! A few of the unique recipes in this book include Apricot Tomatillo Pie, Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie and Oyster and Sweetbreads Pie. 

The recipe from "How to Build a Better Pie" that  I would like to share with you is one that would be perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas: Bourbon Pecan Pie. Enjoy the recipe below, and to order the book for yourself or for a gift, visit: http://www.qbookshop.com/products/199804/9781592537969/How-to-Build-a-Better-Pie.html

Bourbon Pecan Pie 

Single Pie Crust (page 19), chilled

12 cup (112 g) unsalted melted butter
1 12 cups (165 g) coarsely chopped pecans,
the fresher the better, toasted
3 extra-large eggs, room temperature
12 cup (60 g) packed light brown sugar
12 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
12 cup (170 g) light corn syrup
12 cup (170 g) dark corn syrup
14 cup (85 g) molasses (blackstrap)
14 cup (60 ml) bourbon—but not
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla
12 teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt

Prebake tools
aluminum foil
baking beans

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C, gas mark 7).
Bottom Crust
Roll out your chilled pie crust to 18-inch (3 mm) thick.
It should be about 13 inches (33 cm) in diameter. Place
in your pie pan per the instructions in chapter 3. Trim
the edges so there is no more than 14 inch (6 mm) of
overhang. Lift and crimp the overhang along the rim
of the pie pan. Prick the bottom and the sides of the
crust with a regular fork to prevent bubbles. Try to not
pierce through the crust. If you can, chill your crust in
the freezer for at least 15 minutes. If not, chill it in the
refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. It is important for
the crust to be very cold and the fat to re-form and
firm up.

Pull your pie plate out of the refrigerator and place
your foil in it. It should sit flush with the plate, come up
along the rim, and fold down to cover the edges. This
foil protects the crust from overbrowning, but you do
not want the foil pressed securely to the edges. Place
your baking beans in the bottom and level them out.
Put the crust in the oven.

Bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425°F (220°C, gas
mark 7). Then pull out the crust, lower your oven to
350°F (180°C, gas mark 4), and carefully lift the aluminum
foil by the edges off your crust with the beans in
it. Put your crust back in the oven for 10 minutes. Pull
and let cool a bit.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C, gas mark 5).

Melt your butter and let cool. Arrange your nuts on
the bottom of the par-baked crust. Whisk together the
eggs until homogenized and add the white and brown
sugars, then the corn syrups, molasses, bourbon,
vanilla, melted butter, and salt. Pour the mixture over
the nuts and carefully transfer to the oven. The pecans
will float.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the pie is set. A
little wiggle in the middle is all right; the pie will continue
cooking at it sits. Let cool at least 1 hour.

Yield: 1 pie (8 servings)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Eating at Panera Helps Feed the Hungry

For the past week or so, we have been focused on restaurants and hotels that are giving to the needy people in our communities. This is because I am so impressed with the restaurateurs, food trucks and others who donating time and money to help those who are hungry and those who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy. For example, Uber Good, a new food truck in Orlando, is asking its guests to donate blankets and coats to the homeless who are particularly suffering in the chilly weather. Feeding people in need is a cause I am so passionate about because I have never had to go hungry, and can't imagine how awful that would be.

Panera's Harvest Cookie
Now, I am planning to eat at Panera Bread more often because they are donating money to Second Harvest Food Bank, a great organization that gets food to organizations such as HIV/ AIDS groups and homeless shelters. Throughout November and December, Panera's Central Florida restaurants are matching its guests' donations to Second Harvest, dollar for dollar. And, 100% of the proceeds from a special edition Harvest Cookie will be donated to Second Harvest from November 1 through November 25.

Please tell me you will be eating at Panera to support Second Harvest Food Bank! I highly recommend Panera's French Toast Bagel and the Thai Chopped Chicken Salad. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eat & Drink for a Great Cause in Winter Park!

Come out for the enjoyable Happy Hour for Hunger event, which donates 100% of its ticket proceeds to the Second Harvest Food Bank. The fun party is this Thursday, November 8, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Winter Park Village. This is a great way to de-stress from the Election!

For $20 per ticket, you can experience delicious food and drinks - and live jazz music - from Winter Park Village restaurants. Participating restaurants include: Mitchell's Fish Market, Brio Tuscan Grille, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Lime Fresh Mexican Grille, Truffles Grill, and Taps Wine & Beer. 

Last year, this annual event provided 21,000 pounds of food to Second Harvest, which gives food directly to homeless shelters, HIV/AIDS organizations, and other groups in Central Florida. To buy tickets for the event or donate funds to Second Harvest, visit www.winterpark.org.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Help to Feed New York's Hungry

Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin
supports City Harvest
It is difficult not to feel helpless after Hurricane Sandy left a path of destruction in New York, New Jersey, and several other states last week. Millions of people are still without power and running water. For those of us who cannot be there in person to help, there is another way. 

There are several funds set up to help those who are displaced from their homes. And you can donate to the American Red Cross. However, I have come across an organization that gets food to the hungry in New York right away: City Harvest. City Harvest has been around for years, donating food daily to New Yorkers living in poverty. In fact, the organization rescues around 115,000 pounds of food daily from restaurants, wholesalers, and others, and distributes it to community organizations.
City Harvest rescued green beans
and other produce from
North Point Terminal 

After Hurricane Sandy, City Harvest has expanded its services to neighborhoods hardest hit by the storm including downtown Manhattan, Breezy Point, and Far Rockaway. If you are a restaurant or food wholesaler in the city, please contact City Harvest. For the rest of us who simply want to get food to those who are hungry right now, visit http://www.cityharvest.org/donate-funds to make a donation.

If there are other New York City organizations in need of support right now, let me know in the comments section below. Thank you for your caring and generosity.