Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Soup Kitchen Chef Serves up $73 Side of Caviar

How much would you pay for a seven-course meal that starts with a $73 serving of caviar?

For the needy who dine at Broadway Community soup kitchen on the upper West Side, the answer is $0.

That's because the chef at the W. 114th St. soup kitchen got a special donation this Christmas: a 500-gram, $1,100 tin of Petrossian Malossol sturgeon caviar.

"We do this 52 weeks a year, and it's not usually about the fancy," said Michael Ennes, chef at the low-income advocacy organization Broadway Community. "But when someone gives you an $1,100 tin of caviar, it gets fancy."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Choosing Between Death and Football

 This week's Outside the Lines on ESPN presented a sad, yet inspiring story of one man's battle against the culture that his young charges are forced to grow up in.

"Walker is battling a mentality that glorifies death. He's battling a culture that has produced one of the saddest visions possible: Young men being laid to rest in their grandparents' burial plots. He sees poor families spending $500 on airbrushed "RIP" T-shirts for dead teenagers, little kids running around a funeral like it's Disneyland. The bedroom walls of little brothers have shrines to murdered older brothers instead of posters of their favorite players.
"I see people standing over the coffin of a 17-year-old saying, 'Oh, he looks so good,'" Walker says. "I want to say, 'Oh, no he doesn't, not if you saw the back of his head the way I saw it.' They're ignoring reality."

Read the entire story here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Outreach Worker Offers Indy' Homeless a Helping Hand a Warm Heart

Donnie Robinette has spent 14 years doing what he can to help Indianapolis' homeless

By Will Higgins

It's obvious Terry Miles is resourceful. But it's also clear he needs help, and Donnie Robinette offers it to him, gently, unobtrusively.

"Terry, I'm going to bring a doctor around next week, OK?" Robinette said the other day while visiting Miles in the jury-rigged plywood shack along the White River that Miles calls home.

Miles has been homeless most of the past 15 years. Bearded and craggy, he is 54 but looks 64.
He said a doctor would be OK.

"Terry, is there anything else I can do for you?" Robinette asked.

No, nothing. The men shook hands and parted.

Robinette has had countless such exchanges with the city's homeless over the past 14 years. All part of the job -- and a tough one it is.

Robinette, 52, is one of roughly a dozen homeless- outreach workers in Indianapolis and the most senior. His job, short-term, is to keep homeless people alive. Long-term, he tries to persuade them to accept counseling, job training, housing, to coax them to "come in," as he says.

As the weather worsens, the need for proper shelter becomes pressing. But Robinette doesn't push it.
His exchange with Miles is typical of the delicate yet persistent negotiations that can span years.

"You can't judge," said Robinette, who works for the Homeless Initiative Program. "If I said, 'I'm here to save you,' they'd say, 'From what?' I like Terry. I've worked with him four years. He's not ready to come in."

Robinette's understanding of the homeless -- his street knowledge -- is said to be unsurpassed.

"Donnie knows all the nooks and crannies," said Melissa Burgess, who used to work with Robinette and now is a manager at Horizon House homeless day center.

"If I need to know something (about the homeless)," said Sgt. Bob Hipple, of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's Downtown district, "I ask Donnie."

"Homeless" covers a range of people: from those out of work or underemployed who are "doubling up" temporarily with relatives, to the "chronically" homeless, mostly alcoholic, drug-addicted, mentally ill or all three -- the ones who sleep in the nooks and crannies.

Robinette spends most of his time with the hard-cores. A count earlier this year by Indianapolis' Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) put the "chronically homeless" population at 216.

They've lived outdoors for years, stopping at shelters only long enough for an occasional meal, often getting tanked, sometimes panhandling, sometimes dying.

Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jose Cuervo Christmas Cookies

Recipe courtesy of

1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup or brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup nuts
2 cups of dried fruit
1 bottle Jose Cuervo Tequila

Sample the Cuervo to check quality. Take a large bowl, Check the Cuervo again, to be sure it is of the highest quality, Pour one level cup and drink.

Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.

Add one peastoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's best to make sure the Cuervo is still ok, try another cup just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy.

Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the frigging fruit off the floor.

Mix on the turner.

If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaters just pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the Cuervo to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Who geeves A sheet. Check the Jose Cuervo. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

Add one table.

Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink, whatever you can find.

Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Don't forget to beat off the turner.

Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the Cose Juervo and make sure to put the stove in the wishdasher.

Cherry Mistmas !

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Food Charities Struggle to Offer Healthy Options

By: Kevin Hardy

CHATTANOOGA (Dec 3, 2009) - When it comes to providing food to the hungry and poor, nutrition sometimes can be a low priority.

Workers with local food banks and community kitchens say providing wholesome, nutritious meals to their clients can be a struggle. With many charities relying heavily on donations, providing healthy food choices sometimes is not an option. And fresh fruits and vegetables almost always are more expensive than processed foods, providers say.

"Health is a significant factor in our menu planning, but the primary concern is eliminating hunger," said Jens Christensen, director of marketing at the Chattanooga Commmunity Kitchen, which will serve about 170,000 meals this year.

Mr. Christensen said employees try to provide balanced meals for their clients, but relying on donated ingredients creates real hurdles for cooks. The Community Kitchen's 2009 food budget is only $1,500, he said, so cash is reserved for essential items that don't come in as donations.

"This creates a great challenge in menu planning," he said. "Unlike most restaurants and businesses that serve food, we don't select a menu and then acquire the ingredients -- we choose our menu based on what we have."

Gary Paul, development director at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, said that organization notices a similar struggle with distributing the 9 million pounds of food donated annually.

"Basically, we're stewards of what's donated," he said. "The food, the money -- all that comes from the community. We're just stewards of those gifts."

The food bank collects donations of leftover prepared food from local Red Lobster, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Long John Silver's restaurants, Mr. Paul said. Though the foods oftentimes are high in calories and fat, the donations go a long way in feeding the hungry in the area, he said.

"We take what they give us," Mr. Paul said. "And we try to use it all, which we do."

Some groups say choosing their own ingredients makes meal planning easier.

At Providence Ministries in Dalton, Ga., cooks select most ingredients that go into the 500 meals a day served to community members in need. Director Roy Johnson said the program usually is able to provide balanced meals with several choices of entrees, vegetables and side items at each of its three daily meals.

"This is not a soup kitchen," he said. "We serve great meals down here."

Mr. Johnson said Providence has been blessed by a giving community and the ability to purchase many ingredients on its own. Still, he said, the clientele has increased dramatically throughout the recession.

"We're seeing people that we had never seen before, people who never had to apply for assistance for anything before," he said.

Also dealing with increased numbers of clients, the Salvation Army has started taking its own steps to ensure healthy food choices in the three meals it serves each day, spokeswoman Kimberly George said.

The organization recently hired a professional chef who picks nutritious ingredients and make wholesome meals, she said. The chef also will teach clients how to cook for themselves, she said.

The Salvation Army served more than 125,000 meals in its 2009 fiscal year, she said, and throughout the last year has seen an increase in clients in all of its social services.

"In some areas it's twice the amount we saw last year," she said.

The Salvation Army and the Chattanooga Area Food Bank recently installed on-site gardens to provide low-cost fresh vegetables and herbs to clients.

"Our hope is to encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle," Mr. Paul said. "And a lot of that is growing your own food."