If you’ve seen my Twitter or Instagram feed this past weekend, you might have seen some funky stuff. I posted a can of Libby’s Corned Beef Hash, calling it the umami bomb. Before people think I’ve given up on good ingredients, I want to explain.

I’m currently working with our local food bank to do a charity dinner in October. This will be the second year that I have done this event. I have been challenged to create a unique dining experience primarily using items found in the food bank. I’ll be taking some liberties, using alcohol, some fresh produce and hydrocolloids. Last year we raised close to $10,000.  While I don’t usually advocate using a lot of canned or processed food, if it means raising a lot of money for a great charity, I’m all in. Actually, it’s a fun time. I really have to push my creativity.

While I would agree that a lot of canned food is not good for your health, if you’re not growing the vegetables yourself or getting them from a farmer’s market, canned might have more vitamins and be less likely to be contaminated. When was the last time you saw a canned corn recall? For some in depth reading on the subject, go here: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/vitamins-minerals/vitamins-in-veggies-fresh-vs-canned-vs-frozen.html

The reality is that a lot of people rely on their local food bank to help feed their family. I have spent a lot of time over this past year working on some projects that will hopefully be implemented at the food bank. Nutrition education is a huge piece that seems to be missing from a lot of these programs. I’m optimistic to see programs like the Veggie Voucher program which gives clients coupons to get free vegetables at the farmer’s market. Currently, The United Way is helping to fund this program. You can read more about it here: http://www.carrollmagazine.com/articles/connecting-the-needy-with-fresh-healthy-produce.html

That’s what I’m up to. For the next two months I’ll be working on some dishes  using interesting ingredients. Of course, this is in addition to the “regular” food that we’re preparing. It sure makes for an interesting staff meal.

And about  that canned hash…It was used to make a stock for Corned Beef & Cabbage Ramen.  The canned corned beef and potato hash was browned in a pot with garlic and onion. I deglazed with Flying Dog Atlantic Lager, then added water, soy sauce and pickling spice. The stock was strained. The stock was put in a bowl with instant ramen noodles, canned corn, canned bamboo shoots, napa cabbage, scallions and hard boiled eggs that were pickled in canned sauerkraut.

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