hen I first moved to Montreal four years ago, I was searching for a local community shelter where I could do some volunteer work. All of my Montreal contacts said the same thing: “Chez Doris.” It’s a daytime drop-in place, to get off the street and get inside, located in downtown Montreal. I went for a tour and was impressed with the sunny inside spaces, the sewing room, the ‘shop’ where visitors can pick out clothes, kitchenware, and bedding. A nurse is periodically onsite to answer questions and check on regulars. The day I was there, a group of women sat around a giant old TV set, all of them knitting.
After I made my first cash donation, a newsletter came in the mail. It was around Christmas, and there was a section in the newsletter listing non-perishable gifts we could drop off: deodorant, toothpaste, socks, winter coats. Then my eye skipped to “baked goods and desserts.”
Really. Did they want donations of food?
I called Chez Doris and spoke with a lovely bilingual receptionist, who assured me that yes, in fact, they did want food. I still wasn’t convinced. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather have money?” I asked.
“Our kitchen is very busy,” she said. “We provide breakfast and lunch to over 70 women every day. The cooks don’t have time to make a lot of desserts. If you want to donate something, please bring enough for 50-70 people to share.”
I was single then, and new to the city, and happy for a project. I dedicated several Friday nights to making banana bread for Chez Doris. They’re easy to make, with only 6 ingredients, and are easy to package in plastic wrap and then tinfoil before I pop them in the freezer. Once I have 3 or 4 loaves, I pack them in the car and deliver them downtown.
The greeting I receive when I show up at the door with a bag of baking is always the same: “Great! We’ll use these this afternoon for prizes in Bingo… We’ll eat these today. These will certainly be appreciated.”
When I started dating André, I continued the routine of making banana bread whenever there were 3 dead bananas in the kitchen. And he learned to ask (in a tiny voice) if I was making them for ‘us’ or for les sans-abri (the homeless). He didn’t want to eat more than his share, but his eyes were always wide when I told him I was baking them for us.
OK. So here’s why I’m telling you this story 🙂 I wanted to find some way to tie in the work that I was doing for Chez Doris with One Roast Chicken. So when I launched the illustrated cooking lessons “Successful Home Cooking,” I decided that for every print book sold, I’d make a banana bread for Chez Doris. Imagine the look on their face now when I arrive with my bags…
Now I know I’m making you hungry, and you’re saying “where I get my hands on one of these banana breads?” For the next 6 days only, if you purchase a print copy of “Successful Home Cooking” I will send you — free of charge — a bonus illustrated lesson for my banana bread, so you can make your very own! It’s simple with only 6 ingredients, and adapts very well to muffins — which can be frozen for single servings. It’s cheap to make (3 dead bananas, small bit of margarine, flour, baking soda, 2 eggs). And the illustrated lesson will be yours FREE if you purchase your copy of “Successful Home Cooking” in the next 6 days.
One last thing.
I got an email from Stacie on Wednesday: “I homeschool my 2 sons, and they LOVE to watch cooking shows, so, naturally I am trying to teach them to cook. Your book is fantastic in that it is illustrated all along the way, so they can double check what they are doing while they are progressing through the preparation. I would love to have your new book, but it’s just not in my budget.”
How could I resist? Her kids NEED to learn to cook, to measure, to read, to follow-along.
So I created a 4-payment plan for “Successful Home Cooking.” Now for about $25 you can begin cooking right now, and pay the rest off over the next 4 months.
OK, that’s it. What a long letter! Have a great week. Here’s to warm summer days, to kids cooking, to banana breads, and to the look on the receptionist’s face at Chez Doris when I arrive next weekend with … how many banana breads will I have with me? 5? 10? 30? I’ll keep you posted. I’ll take pictures.
All best wishes, and bon appetit!
Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu,
Owner & Head Chef