Plantain Fritters and a 35 lb. Poutine

Yes, I shared. Honestly, I have no idea why my pants are getting so tight.

But first: Plantain fritters! I wish I would have figured this out on Monday. Then again, best that I didn’t – the house smelled like mini donuts and the Stampede all day. They were fantastic. And easy to make. They brought out the banananess of the plantains – as fritters, they tasted more of bananas than I think bananas would have. And they held up to the heat – when you bit into one, it wasn’t mush.

I love that this week I was forced to make my acquaintance with something that has been available to me for most of my life, and yet I never bothered getting to know. I still have enough left to take a stab at a curry next week.

Which, ahem, brings me to a small confession. I assumed that since we started on Monday, Sunday night we’d be wrapping up the Week in Their Kitchen project. It makes sense, right? En route to CharCut, where I had booked a seat at their communal table for Meat Sundays, at which this particular Sunday they promised to make a 15 kg poutine, I got an email titled: three more meals and you’re home free!

Um. Whoops? We’re supposed to keep going from the hamper until Monday noon? Maybe I didn’t read the instructions thoroughly. (Try to hide your shock.)

At any rate. I didn’t bail out on going for poutine, since I had already signed up. It was stupendous.

John and Carrie brought it out steaming – all 35 pounds of it (they weighed the ingredients) including 3 kg of cheese curds and I imagine a bucket of gravy. The fries themselves were cooked in duck fat. It was poutine perfection, served at the communal table, family-style. Awesome.

And yes, I enjoyed it. A little too mightily. It was good food with good friends around a table of happy (verging on ecstatic) people. It was nice to see cheese again, but I had been eating my share of potatoes this week anyway.

Which brings us back to the Week in Their Kitchen project. Yes, it wraps up today. But I can’t say I’m excitedly looking forward to the end of the day (to sum, that was the gist of the aforementioned email: I imagine many of you are looking forward to dinner tomorrow when you can eat whatever you want! That’s right after your lunch tomorrow you are all free of the Hampers!) because really, all the participants in this were always free of the hampers. We’re not homeless, or struggling. We didn’t worry all week that we can only access the food bank once per month, and what we might do when this stash runs out. This has been a learning experience, but I still can’t say I know how a food bank client feels, or that I’ve truly walked a mile in their shoes. Some participants have said this week was fun – I doubt anyone actually utilizing the food bank would share that sentiment.

So. I won’t be going out for a celebratory dinner tonight. I’ll use up the rest of my hamper, along with the (comparably vast quantities of) ingredients already in my kitchen. I’ve already gone and bought a couple bags of food to give back to the food bank (remember-Husky covered the cost of the extra food for all our hampers). I’m going to continue on in some way, cutting my food spending drastically – for the next month at least only buying fresh produce and milk. (And toilet paper. Hard to make that from scratch.) I’m going to shop from my cupboards instead of from the store, and make do with what I have, which is clearly not that difficult.

I’ll try to pursue new sources of fresh produce for the food bank wherever I can (a portion of the new Ramsay community garden?), and contribute easy recipes (hopefully even compile a cookbook) because that’s what I can do to help. And I’ll focus more energy on being happy for what I have, and less thinking about what I’m in the mood for.

And I’ll eat more plantain fritters.


Plantain Fritters

Recipe link


June 7, 2010

Thanks to Gourmet for walking me through this.


1 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. sugar (white or brown)

1 tsp. baking powder

pinch salt

1/2-3/4 cup water

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3 ripe plantains

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

canola oil, for cooking


1In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the water and egg and whisk until the batter is smooth.

2Peel plantains and cut on a slight diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat a half inch of oil in a heavy skillet or pot until hot, but not smoking. Dip the plantains in the batter to coat them and fry in batches (don't crowd them) until bottoms are golden, about 45 seconds, then turn over and fry until other side of each is golden, 30 to 45 seconds more. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Stir together the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.

3While still warm, toss each batch in sugar mixture until coated.

4 Serve warm.


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27 comments on “Plantain Fritters and a 35 lb. Poutine

  1. Shaina
    June 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I adore cheese curds. I don’t know that I could have even put a dent in 35 pounds of poutine, though you can bet I’d give it a try.

  2. Jessica
    June 7, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Those fritters look delicious – I’m going to have to try those. Thanks!

  3. Jessica
    June 7, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Poutine recipe? Pretty please?

  4. JulieVR
    June 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Sorry, you’ll have to ask CharCut!

  5. bellini valli
    June 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    It has been a challenge, but you have come up with some very tasty meals. I am sure there are home cooks that would appreciate ideas of what to do with their hampers…and that poutine…my all time favourite snack food!!!!!!

  6. Lori
    June 7, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    You had me at duck fat…

  7. Robin (Hippo Flambe)
    June 7, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Julie, I just wanted to say how great your thoughts have been to read this week. Many folks can forget when doing this for a week that it is different when it is your life. It is distressing how unhealthy much of the food in your hamper was.


  8. Andi
    June 7, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    As I recall, one of your hamper items was a cake mix but no frosting – could that have been adapted to be the fritter coating if you were a person without those extra resources on your shelf? And yeah, lots of less than optimally healthy products in the basket – but unless donors are willing to donate the GOOD stuff, then yes, recipients will get a lot of cheap stuff – and the challenge will be how to utilize it in a tasty and creative way. I’m sure your recipes – especially some of your new legume ones – would be a welcome addition to the hampers.

  9. Carol SB
    June 7, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    My dear Julie, I’ve had the same idea occur to me so many times that I just had to toss it out there. When I’ve donated to the food bank in the past, I’ve given a lot of thought to how the food i’m donating fits together (although i know it’ll be re-arranged, and likely not go all together anyhow). And what I WISH I could do is put together kits. You know, like a “soup kit”, with a baggie of mixed beans and the instructions on it (how to presoak and then boil these particular beans), along with a package of spices (“add at such-and-such time”) and a can of tomatoes and a can of “flakes of ham”. It’s that “prepackaged convenience” factor, just takes the recipient a bit longer than KD. But the thing is, it’d all be pre- measured, approachable, and simple. Instructions attached.
    HOWEVER… for good and obvious reasons, a baggie of spices put together by Jane Doe ain’t gonna make it past the good folks at the food bank, who have likely seen pretty near everything.
    Can you think of a way to be able to make up kits like this (and a “Pizza” kit, and a “curry kit”, “scones and tea” kit… so many possibilities)?

  10. Sharlene
    June 7, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    The plantain fritters look delicious! It’s actually a Filipino dish my grandma used to make as an afternoon snack for me and my brother when growing up. We call it “maroya” or “badoya” (never really figured out why there are two rhyming names). Of course, her recipe doesn’t have measurements so I’ve never really learned how to make it but this will be a great recipe to try! I’m sure they taste very similar!

  11. thepinkpeppercorn
    June 7, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    haha – you went to Charcut for the poutine! Awesome – I wish I could have been there!!

  12. robyn
    June 8, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I HAVE to ask…..was there any guilt for eating so much food after the food bank week?

  13. Barb
    June 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    You have great ideas Julie! I wonder how many food bank people have them too? A cook book or a pamphlet at least would be very helpful.

  14. JulieVR
    June 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Robyn – Did I feel guilty going to a restaurant I’ve gone to in the past, sharing fairly humble food (it was after all It was a giant mound of potatoes, something I had in spades from the food bank this week, with gravy and cheese curds, and was shared by over a dozen people) prepared by local chefs who support local producers with some good friends? No. I mean, I always have some general measure of guilt over being lucky enough to live the way I do – on a local and global scale. I’ve always been conscious that there are plenty of people out there who rely on the food bank and other organizations – there have been hungry/struggling Calgarians before this initiative, and there will continue to be… not going out for poutine anymore isn’t going to help, and guilt isn’t particularly constructive. I would have felt funny going to a fancy, expensive restaurant and spending a fortune on dinner, but that makes me feel funny anyway – it’s something I rarely do. (Which is not to say I don’t love it.)

    And food is a big part of my world, and my job – should I never go out to eat again? It wouldn’t be right to care now but then forget about it in a month or a year.. This experience has certainly broadened my horizons regarding the food bank process and what a client receives, but I have worked with them quite a bit in the past and am familiar with how they work and the challenges they face. I’ll continue to help out in any way that I can, and help spread awareness, but that’s really as much as anyone can do.

  15. JulieVR
    June 8, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Do you think I should feel guilty? (I didn’t eat that much food myself – it was shared by over a dozen people at a communal table, and likely more back in the kitchen – it wasn’t wasted.) Will you stop eating at restaurants as a result of this past week’s event?

  16. Kathleen
    June 8, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Well done on the week from “the hamper” Julie – I was watching the blog all week and remembering when I was a little girl and having to eat Kraft dinner for a month because we were out of money (on payday we got some hotdogs sliced into it the rest of the time it was plain).

    Now I have a very full pantry. Having been hungry as a child made me terrified of running out of food as an adult (I expect I’ll need therapy at some point for that) and I’m trying for the next few weeks to follow your lead and shop from my own pantry and use up some of the extra food I have on hand before I buy more.

  17. Kathleen
    June 8, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    oh… and no! Don’t feel guilty for going out. Waiters and waitresses need to work, farmers need local cooks to buy their goods, and we all need to treat ourselves every once in a while and see our friends.

  18. Erica B.
    June 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    If it were me, I’d reflect on the week and perhaps be a slightly more conscious consumer on the whole. I wouldn’t feel guilty for being able to go out and enjoy a meal with friends.

  19. JulieVR
    June 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Great way to put it, guys!

  20. robyn
    June 9, 2010 at 11:06 am

    No, I don’t think I would feel guilty. I was just curious – didn’t mean to offend.

  21. Sandra
    June 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Firstly I have to say that POUTINE looks to DIE FOR. I am a poutine addict (when made properly).

    Just reading through the comments and wanted to mention; I dont thing Robyn meant that you should feel guilty or even that stopping eating out will solve our local community famine issues. The way I read that comment was – hey, you just spent the last week eating out of a hamper…how did your first meal out (which happens to be a 35 lbs poutine) feel to you. Did it bring out any emotions? Just a thought.

    Long time reader, first time poster.

  22. JulieVR
    June 9, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I wasn’t offended – it was an interesting question. I figured if it was a burning question, Robyn and others might have an opinion on the subject. It’s OK – I know Robyn!

  23. Kathleen
    June 9, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Julie I was thinking today that something you might want to think about for your potential food bank cookbook would be “Two Dinner in One” type dishes for people who are super busy and have a hard time finding the time to cook. The idea being Make “This”(what ever it is, say spaghetti sauce, or chili or something) and then use the prepared ingredient a different way to make a second meal the next night.

    I hope that makes sense….

  24. JulieVR
    June 9, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Great idea! It would have to be full of flexible recipe ideas, seeing as you never know quite what you’ll get…

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