Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Recipes from a Socially-Distanced Kitchen

In this time of uncertainty, we have found ourselves living a “new normal”. However, in the midst of everyday challenges and changes, one thing is certain to remain the same: we have to eat!

For over 20 years, Legal Aid has had a strong social connection with food—specifically, a highly anticipated weekly tradition: Friday Treats. Every Friday morning, staff members gather together in the break room to enjoy delicious sweet and savory breakfast items brought in our coworkers. Friday Treats offers the opportunity for staff to mingle across units and learn more about one another on a personal level.

In a similar spirit, as our summer fundraising campaign has evolved, so too has Legal Aid’s culture of building community through food. At the end of the Campaign, the top fundraising firms gather together in a friendly Iron Chef style cooking competition to celebrate and acknowledge the Campaign’s success.

This past year saw the advent of two new food centered events: the aptly named Baking Justice Real baking competition and a Chili Cook-Off!

In true Legal Aid fashion, “Recipes from a Socially-Distanced Kitchen” is our way of staying connected through the fellowship of food by sharing our favorite recipes here!

1) Spinach and Cheese Strata – submitted by Carolyn Rumer

2) Ashlei’s One-Handed Momma Instant Pot “Tagine” – submitted by Ashlei Schulz

3) Whole-Grain Banana Bread – submitted by Shirley Horng on behalf of her husband, Kyle

4) And finally, for the kiddos: Edible Silly Putty – submitted by Charlie Whitman-Barr


Spinach and Cheese Strata
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • onion (1 large)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes (1/2 lb)
  • 6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
  • 2 ounces finely grated parmesan (1 cup)
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • 9 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Instructions:

  • Sauté onion in butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for one minute. Stir in spinach, remove from heat and set aside.
  • Spread one third of the bread cubes in a well-buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other ceramic baking dish. Top with one-third of spinach mixture and one-third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, spinach and cheese.
  • Whisk eggs, milk, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for eat least 8 hours or up to a day.

The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Ashlei’s One-Handed Momma Instant Pot “Tagine”

Ingredients:

  • Oil to coat the bottom of the instant pot
  • Whatever seasoning you can reach while holding a 25 lb baby (mine are cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, dash of cinnamon, bay leaf) in amounts appropriate to coat the chicken.
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of raisins or seedless dried dates (you can add chopped nuts like cashews or pistachios too)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (I’ve also thrown in cauliflower)
  • 6 skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups dried couscous

Instructions:

  • While holding baby in one hand and the toddler hangs on to your leg, set the instant pot to sauté.
  • Toss in oil and seasoning and toast the seasoning.
  • Toss in onion carrot and raisins and sauté for as long as you like.
  • (Pause to stop baby from putting random things in the toilet)
  • Toss in chicken and broth. (Do not add couscous yet)
  • Cancel the sauté setting.
  • Put the lid on the instant pot, set to high pressure cook for ~25 minutes.
  • Do a quick release of the pressure valve (and tell your toddler it’s a geyser! that counts as a STEM activity)
  • Add the dry couscous to the bubbling concoction and stir until fluffy.
  • Scarf it down while making toddler a peanut butter sandwich because toddler doesn’t like carrots, chicken, or raisins on this particular evening.

And that’s it! Enjoy!


Whole-Grain Banana Bread

Ingredients:

Batter

  • 2 cups (454g) thoroughly mashed banana, about 4 or 5 medium bananas
  • 1/2 cup (99g) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (213g) brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (120g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (113g) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (57g) chopped walnuts, toasted if desired; optional*
  • *Leave the nuts out, if desired; or substitute up to 1 cup chopped dried fruit, chocolate or butterscotch chips, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or other mix-ins of your choice.

Topping

  • 1 tablespoon (13g) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan; if your pan is glass or stoneware, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the mashed banana, oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Weigh your flours; or measure them by gently spooning into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and chopped walnuts into the banana mixture. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix again to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
  • Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the batter.
  • Bake the bread for about 60 to 75 minutes, until the bread feels set on the top, and a paring knife (or other thin knife) inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs (but no wet batter). If you have a digital thermometer, the bread’s temperature at the center should register about 205°F. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 15 to 20 minutes of baking. Note: If baking in a glass or stoneware pan, increase the baking time by 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove the bread from the oven. Cool it in the pan for 15 minutes, then loosen the edges, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.

Store leftover bread, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.


Edible Silly Putty

Author: Stacey aka the Soccer Mom
Servings: 1 batch
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 large package sugar-free gelatin (1/2 of 1.55-ounce package)
  • water

Instructions:

  • Combine cornstarch and sugar-free Jell-O powder in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Begin adding water to dry ingredients, 2 tablespoons at a time. Stir until a paste begins to form.
  • Continue to add water little by little until the silly putty clumps together instead of sticking to the bottom/sides of bowl.

Finish mixing by hand and play!

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