Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Quest Christmas

With Christmas just behind us, I want to express my appreciation to Quest.

I spent only $40 at regular stores and the rest came from Quest. I have a family of 8people to buy for so I need to stretch my dollars as much as possible.

Christmas is always held at my sisters house, which until recently was my home too. Once the children are all tucked in, we spend the Christmas Eve wrapping presents and stuffing stockings. Sacks and baskets of presents come out of hiding and are placed under our tree with care, each one labeled for a different family member.

I have a brother in law who loves loose tea, which we have a lot of in stock. He was very pleased with the lovely selection of teas I got at Quest! For my niece, I was able to find a very chic blazer in the Hastings location that only cost me one dollar! She loved it. My sister has recently discovered that she is gluten intolerant, and luckily Quest gets a lot of snack foods and cooking ingredients that are gluten free. She loves to bake and now can make treats just for her. For my mum and dad, I created a basket of treats and hot drink mixes, including mocha coffee and flavoured drink syrups.

I was also able to contribute to the Christmas meal: a turkey, stuffing ingredients, cranberry sauce, pickles, and chocolates, all from Quest, were thrown in with the rest of the meal. I felt a great sense of pride being able to contribute to the holiday feast, even on my limited fixed income.

Happy holidays to all.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oat Bran Porridge

(Serves 2 generously) Describing this delicious porridge recipe as, "tasting like a melted muffin," tells you something special. Could something as ho–hum as oat bran be transformed into morning decadence? Oh yes - indeed!

1 cup oat bran (oat bran is preferred, but you can also use a 7 or 10-grain cereal)
2 cups water
1 generous cup berries (fresh or frozen) or sliced, very ripe, bananas
pinch of salt
1 to 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

• nuts (sliced almonds with the berries and toasted pecans or walnuts with the bananas)
• heavy cream (I know this ruins the healthiness of this but who cares—it is important!)
• Flax seeds (I think these are vital, and add a nice deep earthiness, but you can omit)
• brown sugar (I like a sprinkle of this, but you could also add some additional honey or maple syrup)
• fresh fruit (again, optional but I like it)
• sea salt (a sprinkle on top really pushes this over the edge!)

In a medium pot over medium-high heat bring water, pinch of salt, and half of fruit to a boil. Add the oat bran and honey and stir regularly until cereal is cooked, about 2-3 minutes for oat bran- longer for 10-grain. Serve hot, topped with suggested toppings.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Leftover Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

This super tasty soup could become a classic in your house - requested on sick days home from school or when wintery temperatures bring on the blues. Sweetcorn lends a warm and comforting taste to soups frozen corn is very flavourful.

Serves 4

Leftovers of half a roast chicken, shredded
1 litre/2 pints chicken stock
About 1 ½ lbs sweetcorn
1 tbsp of sunflower oil
1 large thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
1 tsp of sesame oil
2 eggs lightly beaten
4 green onions finely sliced diagonally

In a large pot with a little oil, fry the garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes, add the corn and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Add a little bit of the chicken stock and, with a hand blender, blitz the mixture until it becomes smooth.

Add the rest of the chicken stock, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Beat the eggs in measuring jug, which will make it easy for you to trickle them into the soup.

Reduce the heat and while the soup is still simmering, stir it continuously in a figure of eight motion and gently trickle in the beaten egg a little bit at a time to form thin strands.

Add the chicken shreds and stir through. Serve with a generous garnish of green onions.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Monday, November 29, 2010

W.E Kinvig Elementary School 4th Annual Christmas Luncheon

On December 3rd the gym at Kinvig Elementary will be transformed into a winter wonderland for its students to enjoy a special Christmas treat. This present doesn’t come with brightly coloured paper and a bow, but consists of a hearty traditional Christmas meal.

Quest and Fresh Direct will be supporting Kinvig with donations towards their special day. The event was started three years ago by support staff at the school, and has continued to grow in numbers, including over 60 students and staff.

The Christmas Luncheon was started to provide a measure of Christmas cheer to children of families that may not have the means to celebrate Christmas. The luncheon provides an opportunity for the children to connect with their peers, as well as to gain an understanding of what the true spirit of Christmas is. During the event children will spend some time writing thank you cards to the individuals who have donated to their Luncheon.

Many of the children enrolled at Kinvig come from single parent families, or families who have been affected by the recession, or recovering from other bumps in the road along the way.

“This gives these kids who work so hard to have a chance to be rewarded for their efforts,” says Sharon Hiegl, who is responsible for keeping this event going. “We bring in volunteers to serve and organize the event. No one has to help with the dishes when their done. It’s a real treat for the kids.”

Sharon is eager to let us know that all of the donations provided by Fresh Direct and others mean a lot to the kids in her school. “Sometimes kids just don’t have lunches. Usually there are left over donations from the other food programs that I can give them.”

Written by Stara, a Quest Volunteer and Client

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mushroom and Butternut Squash Gratin

This really isn’t a recipe but a throw together dish packed with great autumn flavours. Sweet roasted butternut squash and silky onions, juicy fat slices of mushrooms & crunchy cheesy thyme breadcrumbs.

This is a good way of using up leftover root vegetables and it works with roasted parsnips or carrots. This works as a main meal but it also as a tasty side dish especially with chicken or pork. You can also add chestnuts, walnuts or hazelnuts to the breadcrumbs.

1 butternut squash cut into 2cm cubes
1 large onion sliced
1 clove of garlic sliced
few sprigs of thyme
3 large flat mushrooms roughly sliced
1 heaped tbsp cheese (your choice)
1tsp of olive oil/rape seed oil
2 thick slices of white bread
Salt and Pepper

Place the butternut squash in a roasting dish with the onions and garlic.
Season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of oil.

Place in the oven at 350F for 30 minutes, shaking every so often.
At the same time put the bread on the lower shelf of the oven to dry out for 5 minutes or so.

Pulse the dried bread with the cheese and thyme in a food processor with a drop of oil and a pinch of salt.

Remove the foil from the squash cover with a layer of mushrooms and then a layer of breadcrumbs.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

(CLOSED) Career Opportunity at Quest Food Exchange

We have now found our newest Community Relations Coordinator. Thank you to all our applicants.

Quest is looking for its next Community Relations Coordinator.

Do you have experience in communications, managing a website, recruiting volunteers and writing grant proposals?

For more information, view the full job description at:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crispy Hasselback Potatoes

The potatoes go nicely alongside most dishes. If your potato slices don’t separate while cooking, increase your heat and you should get better results. If you have any fresh sage, thyme or bay leaves, just slip them in between the slices and they’ll add a whole new dimension to the dish.

Serves 4
Approximately 20 baby potatoes
2 tbsps of melted butter or olive oil
A generous pinch of sea salt

The idea is to cut slices about 3mm in thickness right across the potato, but to keep them attached at the bottom. There is a quick trick you can use: place the potatoes on a wooden spoon and slice down: the dip in the spoon will prevent you from slicing all the way through.

When you’re finished, place all the potatoes sliced side up in a roasting tray and brush each one with the melted butter and give a good sprinkling of coarse sea salt.

Roast at 400°Ffor approximately 45 minutes or until the slices of the potatoes fan out and turn golden brown.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Shopping Trip at Quest Food Exchange

For those of our dedicated volunteers, who are also clients at Quest, we provide a $13 voucher to shop in our stores for every 4 hour shift worked. Have you ever wondered what a $13 shopping trip at Quest looks like?

Meat eaters 13$ dinner party for 4
wine pop (8) 2.00
hummus chips .75
bag of buns .25
chicken drumsticks 5.00
green or red curry paste .60
almond butter 1.50
fresh beans .39
fresh bag of romaine lettuce .10
radishes .46
plums .27
discount produce bag (bananas and apples) .10
white cake 1.50
snack pack of italian cookies for the chef .25
total = $13.02

Soy-free Vegetarian
grapes 1.59
fresh beans .39
fresh bag of romaine lettuce .10
radishes .46
plums .27
cabbage .45
discount produce bag (apples & bananas) .10
true lemon .50
almond butter 1.50
almond milk 1.00
mixed grain rice 3.00
chili beans mix 3.00
gypsy love tea
total = $12.81

Prepackaged soy-lovers
soy pudding raspberry 1.50
soy pudding lime 1.50
Tribs (soy ribs) 1.50
Trio meal 1.00
Yves ground round 1.00
Yves vegetarian meatballs 1.00
Yves baked tofu 1.00
Yves vegetarian chicken 1.00
Yves breakfast patties 1.00
vegan Rella 1.25
veggie wrap 1.00
total = $13.00

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts

This surprisingly tasty pasta is endlessly adaptable – add any leftover protein you may have – ham, bacon, chicken, etc. Serves 2

10 ozs Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
8 ozs dried egg fettuccine
1 tbsps unsalted butter
1 tbsps olive oil
1 finely minced garlic clove
1 1/2 tbsps pine nuts (optional)

Slice Brussels sprouts in a food processor fitted with slicing disk, or thinly with a sharp knife

Cook fettuccine in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook pine nuts (if using), stirring, until golden. Add Brussels sprouts, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper, then sauté over medium-high heat until tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Reserve 1/2-cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and add to skillet, tossing with enough reserved water to moisten.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Quest First Impressions

Orientation came with a full tour of the 2020 Dundas location complete with the warehouse full of food, the loading bays, the chilly sorting room, storefront, and head office. Though it was early, all the people we encountered were smiling, all happy, and they were just working away at their tasks as though there was nothing else they’d rather be doing.

Kyle explained housekeeping stuff like dress code and volunteer’s safety and support. He joked that he had wanted to wear his Canucks jersey but couldn’t because he had to give us a tour. There is no dress code, of course, so you may see a few of us in jerseys next time you come to shop, especially if it’s game day!

The casual friendly atmosphere at Quest made me feel immediately welcome and, furthermore, appreciated. Kyle, Starla, and Draya went out of their way to help me get on board with their team, showing me the ropes, and explaining how things work at Quest. Starla even took me shopping with her in the store so I could see firsthand what Quest is all about! She was like a kid in a candy store, so to speak.

My favourite thing about the store at Quest is the variety. I got the feeling there will be something new and different every time I go in there. It was all “Oh my goodness, GARLIC PASTE!!!” and “Yes! We got more of those delicious muffins!” Her excitement was contagious and it left me with a strong enthusiasm for the organization.

Tuesday is fast approaching and my first official volunteer shift at Quest comes with it, I am already looking forward to it.

Jos One,
A New Quest Volunteer

Monday, November 8, 2010

West African Peanut Soup

2 cups chopped onions
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Serrano chili, seeded and minced (use whatever chili you have)
1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger root
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes or tomato juice
1 cup peanut butter (chunky)*
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
salt to taste
1 cup chopped scallions
chopped peanuts
hot sauce (optional)

Sauté the onions in the oil until just translucent. Stir in the cayenne and fresh ginger. Add the carrots and saute a couple more minutes. Mix in the potatoes and stock, bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

In a blender or food processor, puree the vegetables with the cooking liquid and tomatoes. Return the puree to a soup pot. Stir in the peanut butter until smooth. Taste the soup. Its sweetness will depend upon the sweetness of the carrots and sweet potatoes. If it's not there naturally, add just a little sugar to enhance the other flavors and add salt to taste.

Reheat the soup gently, using a heat diffuser if needed to prevent scorching. Add more water, stock, or tomato juice for a thinner soup.

Serve topped with plenty of chopped scallions, chopped peanuts and hot sauce to taste.

Serves 6 to 8

Friday, November 5, 2010

S’mores Pops Recipe

•1 bag large marshmallows
•1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
•1 package cinnamon or honey graham crackers *
•Lollipop sticks

Begin by twisting the lollipop sticks until they are securely in the middle of the marshmallows. (Insert them on the flat, not rounded, side of the marshmallows. Then push them in until they almost pop through.) Then place the graham crackers in a strong Ziploc bag, and use a rolling pin (or whatever you’d like) to crush them until they are finely ground. Then place them in a small bowl.

Then heat the chocolate chips in a double boiler or (carefully!) in the microwave until they are melted and somewhat runny.

While holding the stick, carefully dip a marshmallow in the chocolate mixture until completely covered. Then gently roll the sides and top of the marshmallow in the graham cracker crumbs until they are well coated. Place on a plate or on wax paper to let cool and dry.

Repeat with remaining marshmallows.

*Feel free to used vanilla wafers, your own choice of cookie crumbs or even combine them with chopped peanuts.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Feeding Clients at Building Opportunties with Business

Every month, the Supported Employment Team here at BOB hosts what we call a SHINE supper for clients of our program. Anyone who is currently participating in the program, or has in the past, is welcome to attend. Most times, the meal is catered (usually by Potluck Café and Catering) or purchased from Costco. This month, we decided to try something different.

We have been giving out food vouchers for Quest Food Exchange to clients for quite some time now. An idea came up that perhaps we should see what kind of meals we could come up with ourselves with supplies from Quest. It would not only be a test of our creativity, but would give us a scope of the opportunities and restrictions for a person living with limited resources...

Read the full blog post at:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Traditional Cooking with Food From Continental Importers Ltd

I prefer to use fresh ingredients but sometimes I just don't have them. This week at Quest I found some great stuff to restock on Italian style cooking supplies. Making authentic dishes mean using traditional products.

Some of the great items I found were: pesto paste, garlic paste, tomato paste, in foil tubes that can be stored in the cupboard until use and then thrown into the fridge. I prefer the tubes because they allow me to use a little or a lot, reducing waste because the containers are resealable.

There was a fantastic assortments of infused cooking oil, Rosemary, Lemon and Basil. With the Salsa Dust I found I made green salsa and served along side the pineapple chipotle salsa I bought. Available for purchase was a great selection of snacks including a few different kinds of Italian lady fingers and cookies, sparkling juices, and nuts.

Great finds !!

Thanks Quest.

Written by Starla, a Quest volunteer and client

Smashed Red Potatoes With Cabbage

2 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed
1 lb cabbage (1/2 medium cabbage), quartered, cored and cut in thin shreds across the grain
2 tbsps unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
2 heaped tbsps chopped scallions (about 3 scallions)
2/3 cup low-fat milk (more as needed)
Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsps minced chives (optional)

Cover the potatoes with water in a saucepan, add about 1/2 tsp of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover partially and cook until tender all the way through when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Do not drain the water, but using a skimmer or a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes from the pot to a bowl. Cover tightly and allow to sit for five to 10 minutes. Then, using a towel to hold the potatoes steady (because they’re still hot) cut them into quarters.

Meanwhile, bring the water back to a boil, add more salt if desired and add the cabbage. Cook uncovered until tender, five to six minutes. Drain.

Heat the butter or oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet, and add the scallions. Cook, stirring, until they soften, about three minutes. Add the potatoes. Smash the potatoes to a coarse mash in the pan with a potato masher or the back of your spoon. Stir in the hot milk, and mix together well until the potatoes have absorbed all the milk. Stir in the cabbage, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the chives, stir together until heated through and serve.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: You can cook the potatoes and cabbage several hours in advance.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Draya visits a Quest Partner: Carnegie Community Centre

I rarely get sick, but was wrapped up in my blankets last week feeling like death. I had to call in and cancel my shift here at Quest. Thankfully the symptoms didn’t persist for long and by Wednesday was feeling better enough to go for lunch at the Carnegie.

I was a little early so was fairly near the start of the line. I was meeting a friend from my Friday volunteer gig, a staff member at UBC learning exchange, a high school classmate from Victoria. She arrived a few minutes after 12 and the line began moving shortly after.

The Carnegie has two choices for lunch every day, one with meat and another that is vegetarian. I like meat a great deal but the meat dish had mushrooms in it and I’m not so keen on them. I ordered the vegetarian choice of Butternut squash frittata and chose the garden salad over the potato salad. I ordered the vinaigrette dressing instead of the ranch. I also had a can of great soda

Prices recently increased with the price of the lunch entree coming to a whopping total of 2.25. I decided that I would not have room to eat the soup (Italian vegetable or another I can’t recall) but should you decide to it will only add 85 cents to the cost of your meal. Breakfast is just 2$ and most dinners are 3.25$. Baked goods/cake is 1$ and fair trade organic coffee just 50 cents.

The company was fantastic and we chatted about high school friends and the stuff we’re working on over at UBC. The sun was shining and the food was delicious. I had eaten most of mine before thinking to take a photo.

I used to eat there all the time when l worked nearby. The quality has always been exceptional and I love walking up the stairs that have been worn down with time. I haven’t really spent any time using or checking out the other services available At Carnegie Community Center but there are a number of them. There is a branch of the library, arts and recreation programs, senior are services and opportunities for volunteering. For more information check out the website:

Written by Draya, a Quest Volunteer and Client

Lee Ann's Perfect Party Punch

Lee Ann, a Quest employee helped us make a punch to serve at our Partner Appreciation event. Using products from our store, she came up with this delicious beverage.

1 2 liter bottle of 7up or sprite
2 1 liters juice (I use orange, mango)
¼ cup of maraschino cherries
1 small can of pineapples
1 small orange sliced
1 cup quartered strawberries.

Mix all ingredients in a large punch bowl and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

From Farm to Fridge to Garbage Can - From the NY Times

How much food does your family waste?

A lot, if you are typical. By most estimates, a quarter to half of all food produced in the United States goes uneaten — left in fields, spoiled in transport, thrown out at the grocery store, scraped into the garbage or forgotten until it spoils.

A family of four that spends $175 a week on groceries lest more than $40 worth of food each week go to waste and $2,275 a year.

Read more at:

Roasted Cauliflower

There are some fantastic cauliflowers at Quest this week, both standard and a glorious orange colour, too.

• 1 head of cauliflower
• 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely minced (optional)
• Lemon juice from half a lemon
• Olive oil
• Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut cauliflower into florets and put in a single layer on a roasting pan or cookie sheet. Toss in the garlic, if using. Sprinkle lemon juice over cauliflower add salt and pepper and the olive oil - toss with your hands. If the oven hasn't reached 400°F yet, set aside until it has.

Place in the hot oven, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until the becoming caramelized, tender and toasty. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Brazilian Black Bean Soup

3/4 cup diced chorizo sausage
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 cans (540ml) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, sauté the chorizo in olive oil until it begins to brown. Add onion, carrot and garlic, and continue cooking until the onion begins to colour and soften.

Stir in chicken broth, black beans and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Partway through the cooking time, use a wooden spoon to gently mash the beans against the side of the pot.

After half an hour, stir in the orange zest and juice. For a smoother soup, you can puree half the mixture using a blender or food processor at this stage, or serve just as it is for a chunkier version.
Serve the soup piping hot with a garnish of chopped cilantro

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Witch Sandwich

Looking for a fun sandwich to make for your Trick or Treaters before they head out for the big night? Why not make this really cute Witch sandwich? It's super easy and kids will get a few extra fruits and veggies too

A fun and easy Halloween treat for a quick lunch or dinner. Serve this as a cold sandwich or make a two-part grilled cheese and then assemble the witch.

For the Witch:
• 2 slices light bread
• 2 slices dark bread
• Green apple
• Carrot
• Olive slice
• Sandwich filling

Stack light slices of bread and cut out an angular head for the witch’s head. Stack dark bread and cut out a long, thin hat. Fill both sections with sandwich filling of your choice. A fun option here is to make grilled cheese. Set sandwich sections in place on the plate. Use long strip of green apple slice for the brim of the hat, layers two slices if needed. Cut small circular slices for polka dots from carrot and arrange on hat.

To make the hair, cut five irregular, slices of carrot and add to plate. Use an olive slice for the eye and a thin strip of apple for the mouth.

Happy Halloween!

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Quest's Big Event Through the Eyes of Draya

I usually find going out in the evening to be frustrating and way too draining. Quest has been important in my life so when I saw a call out for volunteers for the Partner Appreciation Event on October 14th, I didn’t hesitate to put in on my schedule. Being early in the evening and at a place I’m already comfortable with was very important.

I love a great party. Despite being an introvert, I actually like to be social, but find it very difficult most of the time. I find crowds and parties overwhelming and a high sensory stimulating environment. I often experience this as physically painful. I also struggle with social interaction; it’s not that I’m shy so much. I realize I don’t understand some basic things like knowing when my turn to talk is, or thinking of something to say, and getting what I mean to say to come out of my mouth how I think it.

I cleaned myself up and slipped into the cowboy boots Starla (another volunteer) and I found on the sidewalk on our way home from Quest a few months ago. I figured they would make a good conversation topic if I needed one.

When I arrived at 4pm the store was already buzzing. I walked up the stairs to the office, boots clacking away, to find it transformed. There was a coat rack in my usual workspace and small round tables placed around the room. Long buffet tables were covered in white tablecloths and centered by gorgeous flowers.

I was very anxious, feeling ill at ease, so I went looking for Starla and began taking photos since that was what I was here for. Having a camera gives me something to hold onto and something to do that takes my attention off my anxiety. The evening flew by.

The food prepared by the folks at the H.A.V.E. Café was amazing. I particularly liked the caramelized onion mini tarts, the baby samosas, and the caramel cake. I’m familiar with their sandwich trays from another volunteer gig at UBC Learning Exchange. The egg salad is my favourite (thanks for the egg on brown btw) as they use a nice sweet onion.

There was also a bar set up in the boardroom with a selection of red and white wine and a lovely non-alcoholic punch. Tending bar were some of the volunteers from Boston Pizza.

There were several moving speeches by a number Quest partners followed by a presentation of the short video by Leslie Dancey ( . I was blown away and am pretty sure there were a few people wiping the corner of their eyes by the time it ended.

Despite starring in it, Starla didn’t see it because she was downstairs getting ready for the main event of the evening. She was one of three folks on a team representing Quest volunteers in a cooking challenge. Also on the team were D, a new volunteer and Ritchie (who also did the dishes and took out the garbage at the end of the night).

The other two teams were from Helping Spirit Lodge and H.A.V.E.

Each team was allowed to choose 10 items from the Quest store and were given a single burner to create a unique meal. It was exciting to watch both the contestants and the crowd. I missed some shots because I was afraid to get in too close. After 45 minutes it was time for cooking to stop and judging to begin. The judges, Matthew Hoag from Boston Pizza and the guy from where?, sampled each teams creation before wandering off to confer in a quiet corner for several minutes.

The prize for first place was a Pizza Party for 10 at Boston Pizza and publication of the winning recipe.

The judges returned and declared that the Quest team was the winner! The other two teams were presented with gift certificates as well.

It was a great event. I saw some folks I know and met some new people. I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone for a few hours and I was completely wiped out, but it was worth it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rustic Dinner: Sausages, Apples & Onions

8 small links of sausage, or 4 links, cut in half
2 small onions, peeled and cut in half, lengthwise
2 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
salt and pepper
fresh sage leaves for garnish

Adjust the amount of onions, sausage or apples for the amount of people you are feeding. No real rules here.

Start by heating a 12" cast iron skillet w/ olive oil and placing the onion halves, cut side down. Cook about 5 minutes on medium heat.
You may need a splatter screen for this, the onions will probably spit.


Now add the sausage links and apple quarters to the skillet and season with salt and pepper.

With tongs, move the sausage links until brown on all sides and reduce the heat a bit. When the apples start to brown, turn them over with the tongs, all the while NOT DISTURBING THE ONIONS! I know - you're tempted.

After about 15 minutes, everything should be done. Garnish with fresh sage leaves and serve with crusty bread.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mustardy Braised Chicken

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (1 1/2 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
5-6 small shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise*
4 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water)
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely-chopped parsley

Place flour in a shallow bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, turning to coat and shaking off excess.

In a Dutch oven or heavy 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high. Cook chicken until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. If necessary, cook the chicken in batches - whatever you do, don't crowd the pan.

Add shallots/onions and garlic to pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened and golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Add the wine (if using) and cook until nearly evaporated. Stir in the mustard and stock, and bring the sauce to a boil.

Return chicken, bone side down, to pot, nestling them into the sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through (juices should run clear when pierced), 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate, leaving the rest of the stew behind.
Add tomatoes and 3/4 of the parsley to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook the mixture over high heat until tomatoes soften and sauce thickens, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and return chicken to pot; cook until heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving. Garnish with remaining parsley before serving.

*If you don’t have shallots, just cut up a large onion into chunky pieces.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Butternut Squash Tart

Prepare Squash, you can do this ahead of time. Peel squash cut into chunks toss in a bit of olive oil salt and pepper then and roast in a 375F-400F oven till tender and golden.

Puff pastry, defrosted

Rollout the pastry on lightly floured parchment paper and place on a baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, score a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the pastry sheet. Prick the center of the pastry sheet thoroughly with a fork.

Caramelized Onions

Slice three onions into half moons and then sauté them in a dab of butter and olive oil, added a pinch of sugar and a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme slowly cooking them for almost 40 minutes until a rich golden brown color appears. Don't hurry this process even though you might want to, it really makes a difference!

For the kale Just take about 6 leaves and cut them chiffonade style (roll leaves into a cigar shape and slice thinly into ribbons) sauté in olive oil until wilted.

When all those components are finished sprinkle parmesan on the base of the puff pastry sheet, then spread the caramelized onions all around then touches of kale here and there, maybe a cup or so of cubed Fontina cheese scattered about, more parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil on top and along the border of the puff pastry, place in a 400F oven for 25- 30 minutes or until nicely browned on the bottom.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Caramel Apple Loaf Cake

Ingredients175g soft butter, plus extra for greasing
175g golden sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
225g self-raising flour
1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
4-rounded tbsps yogurt
2 eating apples
50g walnuts, roughly chopped, plus 1 tbsp extra, chopped
50g soft toffees (we used Werther's chewy toffees)
2 tbsp cream

Heat oven to 325F. Grease a loaf tin and line the base and ends with a long strip of baking paper.

Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale, then beat in the eggs, one by one. Tip in the flour, cinnamon and yogurt. Peel, core and chop apples into small chunks, then add to the bowl and mix everything together with a wooden spoon.

Scrape into the tin, smooth the top and scatter the walnuts down the middle. Bake on a middle shelf for 1 hr 20-30 mins until a skewer poked in comes out clean. Cool in the tin.

To decorate, put the toffees in a small saucepan with the double cream. Gently heat, stirring, until toffees have melted into a smooth caramel sauce. Cool for about 1 min while you gently turn out the cake. Slowly drizzle the toffee sauce over the top of the cake. Scatter immediately with the extra walnuts - they should stick where they hit toffee. Leave for 10 mins before serving. Best fresh but will keep in an airtight tin for 3-4 days.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Waste Reduction Week

It is waste redcuction week in Canada. Have you thought about what you can do to reduce your ecological footprint?

Waste Reduction Week aims to inform and engage Canadians about the environmental and social ramifications of wasteful practices. It strives to educate, engage and empower Canadians to reduce, reuse and recycle waste.

Since 1990, Quest has been reducing hunger and the amount of foodwaste in BC's Lower Mainland. One of our great partners in this mission is Boston Pizza International, who also happen to be featured on the Waste Reduction Week Website. Check out their case study at

If you know a company in the food industry who is trying to find a way to paarticipate in the Waste Reduction Week, point them to Quest Food Exchange.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Partnership with Fresh Direct Produce

Quest hosted its first Iron Chef Challenge as part of its Partner Appreciation Event on October 14th. The challenge proposed to the participants was to create a meal using only products from Quest. This was to simulate the experience of our clients who have very limited food preparation resources.

Each team was given one gas burner, one pan, and two knives. What they lacked in utilities was made up for by the amazing array of fresh produce provided by Fresh Direct Produce. Any cook will tell you that a dish is only as good as the ingredients you start with.

Fresh Direct was founded in 2003 by Albert Lum, Davis Yung, and Kam-Chiu Lee, starting with only ten employees and two trucks. By 2008 the have expanded their operations to a 55,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse one hundred employees and sixteen delivery trucks.

Over fifteen products were donated for the Iron Chef Challenge: Two types of mushrooms, red and green peppers, broccoli, thin young asparagus and bristling vibrant kale. There were also more exotic items such as gia lan, eggplant, bok choy and pineapple. Plus, cooking staples like Spanish and green onions, garden fresh baby carrots, and romaine lettuce.

Fresh Direct has decided to join the Quest family and provide a standing donation for Quest of the same items they provided for the Iron Chef Challenge. Clients of Quest will benefit greatly from having a sense of consistency with produce in the store.

“Knowing I can count on those things being in the store week after week makes meal planning for my family a lot easier,” said one Quest client.

For more info on Fresh Direct, please go to

Chewy Granola Bars

These thick granola bars can be customized with any kind of nuts, seeds and dried fruit your kids like, in any proportion.

1 3/4 cups quick rolled oats, barley flakes, or a combination
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2-3 cups chopped dried fruit, nuts and seeds
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter
1/3 cup liquid honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray an 8″x8″ pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, oat flour, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, nut butter, honey and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended and crumbly. Press into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden around the edges. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into bars.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A short video for Quest Food Exchange

Quest Food Exchange from Leslie Anne Dancey on Vimeo.

Pasta With Pepper and Tomato Sauce

Between the peppers and the tomatoes, this dish is packed with lycopene, as well as vitamins C, A, B6 and K. If you use a food processor to puree the sauce, be sure to strain it afterward for a smooth, elegant texture. Serves six.

2 tbsps olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced
1½ lbs red peppers, cut in large dice
1¼ - 1½ lbs tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 sprig fresh basil (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1lb spaghetti

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or heavy casserole over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes, and add the garlic and peppers. Add a generous pinch of salt, and cook, stirring often, until the peppers have softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, basil sprig, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring from time to time, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat, about 10 minutes. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer another 15 to 20 minutes (or longer), stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick and fragrant. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Remove the basil sprig, and put the peppers and tomatoes through the fine blade of a food mill, or puree in a food processor and press through a strainer. Return to the pan, and keep the sauce warm while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously, and add the pasta. Cook al dente, following the timing instructions on the package but checking a minute before the indicated cooking time. Stir ¼ - ½ cup of the pasta cooking water into the sauce, then drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.

Advance preparation: You can make the sauce several hours before you cook the pasta. It will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, but you’ll want to thin it out with pasta cooking water.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Roasted Fall Fruit

This is a dish takes no time at all for a tasty dessert. Try it with any seasonal fruit and it works well for a breakfast treat, too - serves 4

2 cups seedless red grapes
4 plums, pitted and quartered
2 Bartlett pears, quartered and cored
Vanilla ice cream or yogurt
2 tbsps honey

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. place grapes, plums and pears in a single layer in a shallow sheet pan and roast, tossing the fruit occasionally, until the fruit is soft, about 24 minutes. Serve in a bowl with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or yogurt and a drizzle of honey.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Zingy Quick and Tasty Stir-Fry

Stir-fries are a brilliant way of getting lots of veggies into your diet without compromising on taste. This one is full of zingy flavours and healthy, tasty vegetable. Chinese cabbage is a great standby vegetable which will last quite a while in the fridge and works well in stir-fries such as this one or eaten raw in a crunchy Asian salad – serves 4.

250g noodles of your choice
2 tbsps soy sauce
1 tsp honey
Juice of 1 lime
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated or sliced in thin matchsticks
½ head Chinese cabbage, roughly shredded
1 red onion, sliced into thin half moons
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 red chili, finely chopped

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain and set aside.

Whisk together the soy sauce, honey and lime juice in the bottom of a large bowl. Add in the chopped vegetables, except for the onion, garlic and chilies, and toss until everything is combined.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan until it’s very hot, add the onion, chili and garlic and stir-fry for about 40 seconds.

Add in the veggies and stir-fry until they are tender. You can check this by taking a bite. Then add the noodles and toss in with all the vegetables until combined, then fry for a further minute.

Serve straight away or allow to cool then pop in a lunchbox for the next day.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Upside-Down Caramel-Apple Muffins

Apple Topping Ingredients
3 apples (1½ lbs), peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
½ cup dark brown sugar
4 tbsps unsalted butter
Pinch kosher salt
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

Muffins Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp kosher salt
8 tbsps unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, stir together the apples, ½ cup brown sugar, 4 tbsps butter and pinch salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 15 minutes.

Distribute the apple slices among the muffin cups. Add walnuts, if using, on top of the apple slices.

To make the muffins, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and ¼ tsp salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together ¼ cup butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together until smooth. Distribute the batter on top of the apples. Bake until the muffins are slightly puffed, about 20 to 22 minutes.

Allow the muffins to cool partly in the pan; turn onto a platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 12 muffins.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quest Food Exchange Wants You!

Quest has a very special opportunity for you to volunteer.

On the evening of October 14, we are in need of photographers, greeters, servers and general helpers. Between the hours of 4 and 8 pm, we will need up to 25 volunteers. If you or someone you know are able to pitch in, please contact Kyle at or 604-602-0186 ext 109.

Are healthy school lunches driving your kids to junk?

In the leafy surrounds of Kerrisdale, an old-money enclave on Vancouver’s west side, Point Grey Secondary School is losing the junk food war.

Two years ago the student cafeteria revamped its menu to meet British Columbia’s new food regulations for schools. Salads now have reduced-sodium dressing, cookies contain less sugar and potatoes are baked, not fried.

But when the lunch bell rings, Point Grey students swarm to the neighbouring McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, Frankies Candy Bar, and Flying Wedge, where $3.50 buys a “student combo” of a pizza slice and pop that add up to 900 calories.

Read more at:

Pasta With Pepper and Tomato Sauce

Between the peppers and the tomatoes, this dish is packed with lycopene, as well as vitamins C, A, B6 and K. If you use a food processor to puree the sauce, be sure to strain it afterward for a smooth, elegant texture. Serves six.

2 tbsps olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced
1½ lbs red peppers, cut in large dice
1¼ - 1½ lbs tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 sprig fresh basil (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1lb spaghetti

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or heavy casserole over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes, and add the garlic and peppers. Add a generous pinch of salt, and cook, stirring often, until the peppers have softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, basil sprig, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring from time to time, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat, about 10 minutes. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer another 15 to 20 minutes (or longer), stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick and fragrant. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Remove the basil sprig, and put the peppers and tomatoes through the fine blade of a food mill, or puree in a food processor and press through a strainer. Return to the pan, and keep the sauce warm while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously, and add the pasta. Cook al dente, following the timing instructions on the package but checking a minute before the indicated cooking time. Stir ¼ - ½ cup of the pasta cooking water into the sauce, then drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.

Advance preparation: You can make the sauce several hours before you cook the pasta. It will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, but you’ll want to thin it out with pasta cooking water.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Beet and Potato Roesti

4-6 med. beets, about a ½ cup when grated
2 small potatoes, scrubbed
salt and pepper
4 scallions, chopped
½ cup flour
1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp olive oil

Trim and scrub the beets then peel them. Grate them into a medium bowl. Start preheating a large skillet over medium heat. Working fast, so they don’t discolour, grate the potatoes into the same bowl as well. Add the salt, pepper, and scallions and combine well. Then add the flour a few tablespoons at a time until well combined.

Melt the butter/oil into the skillet until it foams. Put the mixture into the middle of the pan and flatten out with a spatula. It should be a centimeter or thinner. Cook for 8-10 minutes until nice and crispy.

To flip it over, place a large plate over top and flip the frying pan over then slide the Roesti back into the pan. Cook until the other side is crispy about another 8 -10 minutes.

Serve hot or at room temperature in sliced wedges with green onions on top. You might like to dollop some sour cream or plain yogurt on each slice.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Draya ponders food waste

While I was taking photos for Quest I noticed this pile of empty plastic containers sitting on top of the recycling bins. This brought a few questions to mind.

Why are these empty?

Due to a variety of circumstances, even we at Quest are unable to use absolutely everything. Sometimes products arrive already expired, and other times there are just more jars of pickles then there are people. When this happens, we try not to throw anything away. The contents are composted and the containers are cleaned for recycling.

This brought to mind more questions. Does it really get recycled? Where does it go?

After finding the recycling pile I came into the office and was talking about it with Kyle. I was surprised that all the items were recyclable, and reflected back on a documentary I watched over the weekend about plastic. Even though it is possible to recycle some items, there is either no market for the recycled product or no local facilities to process it. Lots of it was ending up at the landfill even when it had been put in the blue box.

I looked up the website for the company that Quest uses to recycle, Urban Impact. The first thing I noticed was that they recycle soft plastic such as pallet wrap and plastic bags as well as batteries, fluorescent tubes, and hazardous non-biological stuff like drywall and fiberglass, along with the typical mixed containers and paper recycling.

They provide a detailed breakdown of what kind of containers they do and don’t take on this page:

Last year (2009) Quest diverted 115 cubic yards of recycled material from the landfill using Urban Impact. I’m told that is equal to about 57 full size pickup trucks and 17 tonnes of carbon emissions.

We try to put out the best quality of produce but it’s inevitable that there is some spoiled food that can’t be sold. At Quest we compost any organic matter we can’t sell, and is picked up by Smithrite Disposal ltd. You’ve probably seen the logo on bins and trucks around the city. I didn’t know that they were more than a garbage collection company.

They will pick up fruits & vegetables, food scraps, bakery discards, flowers, leaves, plant stalks, soiled paper like napkins and coffee cups, meats & fish, coffee grounds/filters, tea bags, and biodegradable products including plates/ cutlery/ cups.

Smithrite can work together with customers like us to find ways to reduce waste and minimize what ends up in the landfill by performing an audit. They also do residential pickup services and I was interested to see that they are working on a pilot project with Coquitlam and Metro Vancouver where 500 households can include household scraps in their yard trimmings.

More info:

Photo of the bins and containers.

Written by Draya, a Quest volunteer and client

Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons

3 tbsps olive oil
3 cups cubed bread + 1 additional slice, separated.
2 ½ lbs plum or whatever good tomatoes you’ve got, peeled, cut into 1-inch dice,
2 large cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tbsp)
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup thinly slivered basil leaves, or your herb of preference
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F. The dish can be a little soupy if the tomatoes are very juicy so if you’d rather avoid that, combine tomatoes and salt in a colander to drain.

Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high. Add the bread cubes and stir so that they are evenly coated with oil. Cook cubes, tossing frequently, until toasty on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove toasted cubes from the pan and add to a shallow 8-cup baking dish.

Add remaining 1 tbsp of oil and garlic to the pan and sauté garlic until golden. Add tomatoes and sugar, and cook stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, to cook down some of the juices. Add one slice of un-toasted bread (cubed), and let that bread mush into the tomato juices to thicken. Remove from heat, and stir in the basil. Pour the tomato mixture into the baking dish with the toasted bread and stir to combine. Top with Parmesan cheese and bake 30 to 35 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm...leftovers are amazing with a poached egg on top.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Salad

Easy and good.- maybe two of the best words ever for busy cooks. This is a great little recipe for a simple, crispy salad that highlights autumn’s goodness. Kids love it love it with a peanut butter sandwich, but try it in a pita with a few spinach leaves.

This can be an elegant accompaniment or a great lunchbox treat. What more could you ask for?

Frozen apple juice concentrate provides sweetness and apple tang and does not thin the dressing too much as apple juice would. Transfer the remaining concentrate to a freezer container and save it for your next batch. The mayonnaise adds a great tang, and you can use low-fat if you prefer.

2 tbsps frozen apple juice concentrate, slightly thawed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 green apple
1 red apple
1 cup red or purple grapes
1/2 cup walnut pieces

In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, apple juice concentrate and cinnamon together.

Cut the apples in half, remove the core and chop into small pieces. As you cut the apples, drop them into the bowl with the dressing and stir to coat and prevent browning. Cut the grapes in half and add to the bowl, stirring to coat. Add the walnuts and stir to coat and combine.

The salad will keep covered in the fridge for 3 days.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Families at Quest

Quest offers unique bonuses for families: bulk packaged items provide multiple servings, and prepared meals are great for lunches and snacks to go.

Recently I have moved from renting a room to sharing space with my sister and her kids. I'm not just shopping for one person but looking for things to contribute to family needs. I will be able to take advantage of the larger items that Quest sells. Two gallons of canned fruit will be burned through in a few days with teenagers and their friends around. Some of the pre-made meals can contribute to lunches and quick meals for my sister who is also a part time student.

One teen in the house loves to cook. I'm hoping I will be able to expand his cooking repertoire and skills by showing him how to use resources like Quest. I'm also glad to have the kids see the impact volunteering makes on the individual and the community.
Written by Starla, a Quest volunteer and client

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tasty Chicken Hotpot

Chicken thighs are a good, cost-effective cut of meat and won’t overcook in this delicious preparation - Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
8 chicken thighs
2 onions, sliced into thick slices
5 carrots, cut into rough chunks
3 celery sticks, cut into rough slices
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2½ cups chicken stock
2 tsps mustard
1 tsp dried oregano, or 2 tbsps fresh – if you have it
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a large, high-sided pot until it's really hot. Add the chicken and brown on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. There should be enough oil and fat left in the pan, but if not just add another little drop.

Add the onions and sauté until soft. Add the carrots and celery and cook for three to four minutes, stirring every now and then.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and stir adding the mustard and oregano. Add in the browned chicken and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and place the lid on and simmer gently for 45-55 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve in deep bowls with some thick, crusty bread to soak up the juices.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Spread/Dip

1 3/4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (or yams)
8 oz. eggplant (any variety)
1 red bell pepper
2 medium tomatoes
4 green onions
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
10 large fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted baguette slices or crackers

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut red-skinned sweet potatoes (or yams), eggplants, tomatoes, and red bell pepper into 1-inch chunks. Cut green onions into 3-inch lengths. Place all of the vegetables in a single layer on a large baking sheet and toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Roast the vegetables until soft, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Place the roasted vegetables, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, and fresh mint leaves in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the spread to a serving dish and serve at room temperature with toasted baguette slices or crackers.

Makes about 3 cups.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fresh Strawberry Bread

Sweet, fresh, spiced bread perfect for breakfast, or tea, or even dessert.

10 ozs stemmed and sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup plus 3 tbsps granulated sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp vanilla extract

Slice the strawberries and place in a bowl. Sprinkle over the 3 tbsps of sugar and toss to thoroughly coat the berries. Leave to macerate for a couple of hours, until there is plenty of juice at the bottom of the bowl. Drain the berries, reserving the juice.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 3-inch loaf pan.

Mix the flour, remaining 1-cup sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla and mix until just combined. Fold in the drained strawberry slices, distributing evenly. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove the loaf from the oven and poke holes all over the top with a skewer or thin knife. Drizzle about ¼ cup of reserved strawberry juice over the top of the bread, allowing it to soak in. Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a thin knife and leave to cool in the pan.

Makes 1 loaf

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Hive of Activity

Usually my time at Quest is calm and uneventful, which is how I like it. Friday was not a typical day at Quest.

There were about 30 extra bodies all doing different things.

We often have corporate volunteers in the office, just not so many at one time. Friday was "Impact Day" for Deloitte; every desk and phone in the building was manned. Some volunteers were working upstairs in the office preparing postage for the upcoming newsletter.

This task is usually done by regular volunteers over a period of a few weeks. I am certain that I wont miss doing it this time. Thousands of envelopes need to be labeled, return addressed,stamped and stuffed for with the most current newsletter.

Downstairs a crew of volunteers were culling pallets of raspberries for all the stores to sell. I sat with them for a period of time chatting while they carefully examined basket upon basket of fruit for spoilage.
They asked me questions about how Quest works and who comes in to shop. I did my best to answer questions about where the food comes from and how we distribute it.

I also saw the corporate volunteers working hard to get the shelves stocked and some also breaking down large packaged items for individual sale. I would like to thank all of the people who came in to volunteer for us, I realize how much of a departure it is from their normal lives of accounting and business management.

Also today we had a film crew in working on a promotional video for Quest. I have had the opportunity to be filmed three times now on behalf of Quest. I never would have thought about doing interviews for televising before I became involved with Quest. The film crew and I did an interview in the shipping dock stacked amongst the boxes of beets and shortbread cookies heading out to our other stores.

I am thankful for the opportunity to speak about having Quest as a resource. I honestly do not know how I would feed myself without this organization. I know that I am not alone. I see hundreds of people each week doing the same thing I am, just trying to survive. In fact about one in the afternoon a group of 20 new clients came in to check us out and get their Quest Cards.

That is just one part of what Quest offers. The best and biggest parts are the skills that I am learning here, I am able to attain knowledge that I would not usually have access to.I am honing my skills in order to return to the workforce while being in a supportive and positive environment. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Thanks Quest :)

Written by Starla

Quest Volunteer Spotlight - Steven

In 1994, Steven arrived in BC. His cross country journey started in Sarnia, Ontario, a thriving community of 150 thousand. He came to BC to work in the Cruise Ship industry, but when it came time to set sail he had already committed to work in the city. With a career in food services, some of his past positions include International Trainer for The Rainforest Café and line cook for The Keg, as well as five star resorts in Jasper and Banff.

When asked about the differences between home and the Lower Mainland, Steven said that he had never seen street life like we have here. Working downtown has been “a really big eye opener.” He describes some of the hardest and grittiest parts of what the Downtown East Side has to offer.

As a Cordon Blue School graduate and a Red Seal Chef, Steven has attained one of the highest honors achievable in the cooking industry. Why does he choose to volunteer at Quest? Steven has osteoporosis in his back and cannot put in the physically intense 12 hour shifts that are required as a Chef. Steven heard about Quest via word of mouth.

Steven inquired about a volunteer position, started volunteering right away, and has been a solid member of this organization for over a year. Steven likes to help out people who are in most need. “Everyone thinks that people in the DTES are ungrateful, but they’re not.”

At the Hastings location he has taken on a leadership role, organizing and directing other volunteers. He volunteers his time five days a week. Steven’s past career has helped with Quest’s efforts to rescue food. “As a chef, nothing gets thrown away in my kitchen. It’s all useable.” His focus is on using what is on hand. If a fresh item is getting past its prime, there are ways to use it still. “People can make so much from so little.”

Friday, September 24, 2010

Berry Banana Smoothie

Have you ever wondered what you can use our flaxseed oil for?

2 cups of yogurt
1 ripe banana
2 cups of berries (strawberries & raspberries)
½ cup crushed ice
2-3 tbsps honey 1 tbsp. Flaxseed oil*

Add ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. You may prefer to freeze your berries, which tends to give a thicker result to the smoothie and add a little orange juice, if you like.

The flaxseed oil is optional but it’s a great way to add some healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids to your morning. Don’t worry when you read the word “fatty" - omega-3’s increase your body’s metabolic rate, actually helping to burn excess fats in your body! Flaxseed oil also lowers LDL (the bad) cholesterol, boosts your immune system, helps your G-I tract, and gives you better skin. The list goes on and on. Don’t cook with flax oil exposing it heat results in the loss of many of its properties, but take advantage of using it in smoothies, in salad dressings, or straight up.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Be a Movie Star, Show Your Support for Quest!

On Friday, September 24, Quest will be hosting Leslie Dancey and team from Heartsong Media. We will be filming a promotional video for Quest, sharing stories and capturing moments with the people who make our operations such a success.

We invite you to come join us. If you have something to share with the cameras, or simply want to be in the background, please contact Kyle at 604-602-0186 ext 109.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Microgreens are easy to grow at home

Got a green thumb and looking for cheap salad greens over the winter? Check out this article by Randy Shore (aka The Green Man)

At the end of the summer growing season, I am usually left with a lot of seeds that just don't grow that well in the fall. Or things that I'm just not very good at growing, such as broccoli raab and pac choi.

So what I did was mix a pinch of seeds from half a dozen seed packets and sprinkle them over a large planter pot full of potting soil.

Read more at:

Thanksgiving: Rustic Bread Stuffing with Bell Pepper and Herbs

A very flexible recipe to which you may add your own ideas – a little chopped apple, mushrooms, some nuts, variety of herbs and maybe use ½ bread / ½ cornbread. This stuffing may be baked separately or stuffed into the cavity of a turkey or chicken; or even both.

1 (1-lb) loaf crusty country-style bread
olive oil
4 tsps chopped fresh thyme and/or sage
1 large garlic clove, minced
4 tbsps butter/olive oil combination
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 3/4 cups broth, heated

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut bread (or just tear with your hands) into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups loosely packed). Place cubes in large bowl. Add oil, thyme, and garlic; toss to coat. Spread cubes out on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and slightly crunchy, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Return cubes to same large bowl.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes; add parsley.

DO AHEAD: Bread cubes and vegetable mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store separately. Store bread at room temperature. Chill vegetable mixture.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Stir vegetable mixture into bread cubes. Gradually add hot broth, tossing to coat evenly. Season stuffing to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to prepared dish. Cover dish with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake stuffing until heated through, about 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is brown, about 25 minutes longer, and serve.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Best Way to Keep Cut Avocado Fresh

The Omega-3 fatty acids found in avocados are sensitive to light, air and heat and easily oxidize when exposed to them, causing them to brown and break down. This is why an avocado is often green underneath the pit but brown on the exposed surfaces surrounding it - the surface underneath the pit is protected from light and air.

Place the avocado in a clean sour cream or similarly sized opaque container with a piece of cut up onion. Cover with lid and refrigerate. A cut avocado will stay fresh for several days this way. I don't know for sure why this is, but I suspect that it has to do with the sulfuric acids that the onion releases. This is the same sulfur that makes you cry when you chop onions, but it is also used as a preservative. The onion smell/taste doesn't seem to transfer to the avocado, as far as I can tell.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Vegetable Stock ~ Easy, Quick and Flavourful

Vegetable stock is one of those ingredients that is easy to buy off the shelf yet so much more delicious – and economical – when cooked from scratch. And you don't have to purchase pounds of fresh veggies to make it.

Using vegetable peelings, stalks, and leaves can be a great way to save money and avoid wasting food. Here are some tips for saving vegetable scraps, which can be used in the basic D.I.Y. Vegetable Stock recipe, below.

• Vegetables to use: Onions, carrots, and celery are the key ingredients in vegetable stock, but many other vegetables can add depth and flavor. Wash and save roots, stalks, leaves, ends, and peelings from vegetables such as leeks, scallions, garlic, fennel, chard, lettuce, potatoes, parsnips, green beans, squash, bell peppers, mushrooms, and asparagus. Herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano and cilantro are also good additions.

• Vegetables to avoid: Scraps from the following vegetables have flavours that can be too overpowering: cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, artichokes. Beets and onion skins should also be avoided, unless you don't mind your stock turning red or brown.

• Spoiled vegetables: Although stock is a great way to use veggies that are wilted or slightly past their prime, be sure not to use produce that is rotten or moldy.

• Storing scraps: You will want to collect about 4 cups of vegetables to make 2 quarts of stock. Save scraps throughout the week, wash and chop them into similar sizes, and keep them in an airtight bag or container in the refrigerator. If you are collecting scraps for longer than a week, store in the freezer

D.I.Y. Vegetable Stock - makes 2 quarts

Always include the aromatics: onions, celery and carrots. Chop everything into no more than 1” pieces to help extract the most flavor from the vegetables. This is different from meat stocks where the vegetables are left in large chunks because they are going to be simmered for much longer. Don't use too much water - 2 parts water to 1-part vegetables is a good ratio.

About 4 cups chopped vegetables - a mix of onions, celery, and carrots
2 large tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1 cup mushrooms, chopped (optional)
2 quarts water

Simmer uncovered for about an hour. Any more than an hour and the flavor will begin to deteriorate. Strain out the vegetables using a fine mesh strainer and press to squeeze out all the broth. Let cool then pour into bags or containers and freeze or refrigerate. If refrigerated use within a few days.

Created for Quest by Chris at:

Cookbook Giveaway!

Please give a special thanks to Chris from Food Elf for donating a prize on the Quest Food Exchange Blog:

Easy, home-style recipes from chef Gordon Ramsay, star of the hit Fox reality show, "Hell's Kitchen."

International superstar chef Gordon Ramsay scored a huge hit this past summer with his Fox-TV reality show, "Hell's Kitchen," which showcased both his formidable cooking skills and his infamous temper. Now this three-star Michelin chef is showing a different side in Gordon Ramsay Makes It Easy, his first cookbook geared specifically to the needs of the home cook, with simple, accessible recipes that take very little time to make.

This gorgeous-looking book is packed with 200 color photographs and makes a great gift for cooks of all levels and of course fans of the TV show. A free bonus DVD is included with the book, featuring exclusive footage of Gordon cooking recipes from the book in his own home kitchen.

Just leave a comment on this post mentioning your favourite food to cook or recipe title, with your email address, and you’ll be entered into the draw.

Deadline: Tuesday, September 21at noon – Winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 22 on the Quest Blog.