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Feeling a little 'Hungry for Hope'? This free cookbook from local star chefs might help.

Chef Sean Sherman, who contributed his recipe for Baked Maple Cedar Tepary Beans to "Hungry for Hope," gives lessons on how to cut greens during a cooking class at Urban Roots back in 2018.

Chef Sean Sherman, who contributed his recipe for Baked Maple Cedar Tepary Beans to "Hungry for Hope," gives lessons on how to cut greens during a cooking class at Urban Roots back in 2018. Elizabeth Flores / Star Tribune

Now that we’ve found ourselves in month seven of the coronavirus pandemic, our home cooking endeavors could have taken only two possible routes: 1) elaborate, multi-day projects (possibly involving fermentation) building upon our heightened culinary prowess, knife skills, and increasing need for distractions; or, 2) the dead-ass opposite of the former, in which the idea is simply zero dishes.

Just in the nick of time – before that dichotomy, or a really big can of beans on a too-high shelf, takes us out forever – Hungry for Hope: Healthy Recipes to Sustain our Community through the COVID-19 Pandemic, has arrived to save us from ourselves. 

In some ways, your author meant that literally, too: The free, downloadable cookbook was released in partnership with the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. 

The organization, whose long-term commitment centers on improving the health of all Minnesotans by tackling the leading root causes of preventable disease, drew upon the expertise of some of Minnesota’s most celebrated chefs to provide prescriptive nourishment during this unique era of stress and hardship. 

Hungry for Hope features 24 recipes, which also transport aspects of our beloved dining scene (a.k.a., a community) directly into our home kitchens. Flavors leap off the page, offering plenty of variety to fight back the doldrums, reflecting food traditions from many cultures and diets – Hmong, North African, German, Thai, Italian, plant-based, gluten-free, and more. 

Equally important at this stage in our pandemic madness: it doesn’t require an actual chef’s touch (or industrial dishwasher) to pull off at home. 

Chef Lachelle Cunningham offers up Vegan Cauliflower Tostada and Tomato Salsa recipes drawn from The Good Acre’s produce-focused farm to school programming, and Birchwood Café’s Tracy Singleton contributed a recipe for Chicken & Spaetzle Soup specifically because of the comfort, familiarity, and connection we’re craving now, perhaps more than ever. Chef Sean Sherman offers a rumination on the strange blessing of home kitchens alongside his guide to making Maple Baked Tepary Beans, while chef Brian Yazzie says, “Our elders need nutritional meals to keep their immune system strong during these trying times,” and shares Sage & Maple Braised Bison Tacos with Spanish Rice for the dish’s fortifying properties.

The hardest part so far has been choosing which dish to cook each night… not setting aside the frozen pizzas and re-homing Steve, my sourdough starter.

So congrats, Blue Cross Blue Shield! And thank you for your knowledge, chefs.

   

Download the free digital pandemic cookbook Hungry for Hope here.