In Praise of Volunteers

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Here at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre,  we are blessed with many blessings … there is the land, the history, our delicious well water but most especially our people.  Our clients are the most interesting people in the world – and from all over the world.  Our staff is varied, dedicated and congenial.  Very far from the least is our cadre of volunteers who help out in every facet of the centre.  We have a wonderful soul who comes in to help our housekeeper change bedding!  We have people who do regular volunteer reception shifts.  The Farm, Buildings and the Land departments each have an assorted crew with a very wide assortment of skills. We had a Guelph company volunteer an entire environmental assessment prior to the Plant an Old Growth Forest project!  There is an amazing woman – a audit expert – who drives in regularly from down Toronto way just to volunteer her financial acumen!

Most dear to my heart of course are our kitchen volunteers who help us out peeling carrots, making salads, with dishes, with everything!  Cheery, flexible and hardworking, these folks lift our hearts and lighten our burdens.  Here’s to Virginia and Dan from the kitchen and all the rest of our volunteers.  Thank you and bless you!

One of our most-requested recipes is the following stew.  It is healthful, we can serve it to vegans but everyone likes it.  I especially like the whole coriander seeds .. you occasionally get one between your teeth and poof! an instant explosion of taste … like a present for your tongue!  It also freezes well and you can add more water (or apple cider) and puree it – roughly or finely, as you like – for a wonderful soup.  This makes quite a large batch – to serve almost 30!  You might want to cut it in half … or maybe not!

African-Inspired Groundnut Stew.

2 T vegetable oil

2 c coarsely chopped onion

1 c chunked celery

2 T whole coriander seeds

2 T chopped garlic

2 T chopped ginger

Sauté until the onion just starts to colour.  Add…

8 c sweet potato – peeled and chunked

3 c canned tomatoes with juice – broken up with hands

2 c apple juice or cider

1/2 c roasted, unsalted peanuts

Bring to a boil stirring constantly, reduce heat, lid and simmer 5 minutes.  Add…

2 c chunked squash (or potato)

2 c chunked cabbage (or cauliflower)

2 c chick peas – ready to eat

2 T ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

(Optional – hot sauce or chilies to taste, chopped okra if available, red pepper for colour)

Simmer a further 15 minutes or so until all vegetables are soft.  Just before service, stir in 1 c peanut butter.  This will thicken it quite a bit!  Add more apple juice if it is too thick.

(Optional…. ½ c chopped cilantro)

Enjoy the spring!

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