After years of watching tantalizing homemade dishes stream through his social media feeds, Phil Wilson (Power Engineering Technology ’97, Gasfitter ’11) felt it was time to shine a spotlight on amateur cooks who quietly go about wowing family and friends.
This August, the author of baconhound.com, a popular Edmonton food blog, launched the Community Table Project. It’s a departure from conventional online coverage about dining out. Instead, Community Table, launched with a pizza recipe from CBC radio host Mark Connolly, focuses on the homier aspects of food and cooking.
“I find a lot of people are talking about the restaurants but there’s not a lot of people talking about the home cooks," says Wilson. "Maybe nobody, really.”
While Wilson admits the project comes with the benefit of having free meals made for him by interesting people, he believes his “passion project” gets to the heart of the importance of food to family and community.
“Home cooking is definitely about more than just food. It’s about all the feelings associated with the food, the family history.”
I think there are a lot of different emotions you can feel and a lot of different connections you can have from making a recipe. Maybe you made a recipe with your grandma growing up and that’s why you love it. It brings you back. Food can do that.”
Every couple of weeks, Wilson plans to cover a new home cook and a recipe “that they’re really proud of, that they love, their friends love,” and that they think others might love, too.
The duration of the project, he adds, is open ended. So far, response from people willing to share cherished recipes – and widen the community around their creations by inviting a blogger in for a meal – has been positive. “First crisis averted,” says Wilson, with a laugh. “People are really interested in participating.”
To help set the example, he's shared one of his own favourite recipes: flaky biscuits. He picked it up from, Michael Ruhlman, a chef from Cleveland. “These have become something I make for people when they move into a new home, have good news to share, or are maybe just having a bad day,” says Wilson.
Now, in keeping with the spirit of his project, we might, too.
Recipe: Flaky Biscuits
255 g (9 oz) all purpose flour
177 ml (6 oz) milk or buttermilk
85 g (3 oz) very cold butter (put in freezer 15 minutes before making biscuits)
10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder
5 ml (1 tsp) table salt
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
Sift together dry ingredients.
Grate semi-frozen butter into dry ingredients and mix to coat.
Add milk and stir until just combined. Do not overwork mixture or biscuits will be tough.
Spread the dough into a rectangle and fold into thirds onto itself.
Roll out with rolling pin and repeat folding.
Roll out into rectangle approx. 1/2 inch thick.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest in fridge at least 1 hr.
Cut into 4 equal sized rectangles, then cut again diagonally into triangles.
Place on baking tray and bake 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.