Little Mountain Neighbourhood House

I’m feeling so blessed and full tonight! Full of happiness and amazing food.

While living in San Francisco was a wonderful experience, towards the end of my time there I grew very unhappy and was quite lonely. I wasn’t fulfilled or happy with the lifestyle I was living. The riches were great but I wasn’t giving back and everything began to felt very superficial. I wanted more than that. I wanted to help people. Photography started to become a chore rather than a passionate job, and with the stress of a few different things, my health began to take a toll. It was then that I started researching nutrition, and understanding that food affects so much of our being, both physically and mentally. I applied to Bauman College in Berkeley and was accepted. I was excited for a new career as a Nutritionist. I wanted to work with women and help them develop food plans they could take home and use to care for their families with.

At the same time, however, or perhaps slightly before this, I had discovered Kinfolk magazine. What I loved about Kinfolk (other than the beautiful photography) was that it was based around small gatherings. Small gatherings of food that brought people together. Food is community. To fight off some of the loneliness I had felt and wanting to feel community in a very busy city, I started hosting dinner parties at my apartment in SF. Those are some of my most cherished memories there. Food is a necessity and it’s something we can share with others, where great conversations happen and relationships deepen. It was always a dream to work for Kinfolk, but the opportunity never presented itself. That is when I decided to give up photography and pursue nutrition. 

It took a few months of my heart stirring and praying a prayer I wasn’t entirely sure was being heard, and then I finally felt some direction. I left San Francisco and decided not to pursue nutrition. A few months later Kinfolk emailed asking to work with me (dream come true!), and now I’m going to fast forward to a year and a half later, where I decided to go back to school to finish my degree in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice.

Unlike the Nutrition program, my plan with this degree is not to give up photography. Instead, I went back to school because I wanted to get connected with organizations that would allow me to work with women, help women, and use photography as a tool to tell stories. For one of my classes, we have a practicum and tonight was my first night. I cannot tell you how exciting it was! I am working with a non profit in Vancouver called Little Neighbourhood Mountain House that provides nutrition education, along with cooking classes, English classes and so much more. Most of those who come to this non profit are immigrant women who are looking for a place to connect and learn about the city and how they can support their families here. Tonight was my first night volunteering with the company and we all cooked a ginormous meal together and then sat around a table and shared stories. As for my specific involvement with this non profit (other than cooking with these women), I am working on a cookbook with them where I will be creating all of the photographs! Along with that, we are going to interview many of the women so that we can put their stories in the cookbook, along with their recipes from back home.

I am so excited about this! Finally, I am connecting all of the things I am passionate about into one: photography, nutrition, women and helping people. It feels like it took years to get to this point and finally find my “niche”, and well, it did take years, but it also took a whole lot of faith, patience and perseverance. I don’t know what will happen after the cookbook is finished and once I’m done with my degree, but for now, I can’t wait to take more photos, cook yummy food, connect with incredible women, share stories and build relationships.

Here is the meal we cooked tonight:

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Recipes:

Roasted Vegetables: A casserole dish of seasonal vegetables that is so easy to prepare. It can be made a day ahead - just reheat before serving. Lemon juice can be submitted for balsamic vinegar. Serves 12.

  • 1 small butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat over to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the squash, red bell peppers, sweet potato, carrots, and Yukon Gold potatoes. Separate the red union quarters into pieces, an add them to the mixture.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together thyme, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss with vegetables until they are coated. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan.
  4. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.

Sweet, Sticky, and Spicy Chicken: This chicken dish uses skinless, boneless chicken breasts and tastes delicious. It's great as an appetizer or as a main dish served with rice and veggies. Serves 4.

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger root
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seed
  1. Mix together brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and hot sauce in a small bowl.
  2. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken strips and add flour. Stir altogether.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken strips and brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.