Monday, December 17, 2007

Deadline Approaching for Menu for Hope Raffle

If you haven't donated yet, the deadline for participating in the Menu for Hope raffle is drawing near. As my raffle prize (code UE21), I'm offering a copy of Veganomicon and a six-pack of organic, raw agave nectar.

I know says they're out of stock on the agave nectar, but have no fear, if you are the winner of my raffle prizes, by the time the winners are announced on 9 January 2008, the agave will be in stock.

One of the questions I get a lot is "How much of my money actually goes to those kids in Lesotho?" Well, to quote Pim, the grand mistress of the Menu for Hope,

For every $100 donated to Menu for Hope, nearly $87 goes directly to the school children and farmers in Lesotho.

Here's how we came to that number:

0% go to Menu for Hope management
We don't take any cut at all from this. All the bloggers participating do it for free.

7% go to The UN World Food Programme
The WFP uses no more than 7% of their total funds raised each year for their operational overhead. You can see the entire 2006 operating report for yourself here.

Firstgiving 7.35% 6.35% go to Firstgiving
Firstgiving, the online fundraising company we use to manage Menu for Hope donations charges a service fee of 7.35%, which covers credit card processing, hosting, security, administrative, service, and all other services they provide.

Donors can make an online donation with a credit card. Firstgiving collects and processes the payments and, at the end of the campaign, transfers the donations in one lump sum to the WFP. This is a win-win situation for all parties involved. The bloggers never touch the money. The WFP don't waste overheads on processing mini-donations, the majority of which were between $10-$50, that's a whole lot of tenners to make up 60K.

Last year, Firstgiving was kind enough to donate back 1% of the total amount we raised back to the campaign. This is in lieu of a discount on their already small fees, so, basically, Firstgiving only charges our campaign about 6.35% fees! Thank you so much Firstgiving!

The rest, 85.65% ~86.65% goes to the children and the farmers. You can meet them here.

Knowing that so much of my donated money goes directly to the targeted folks is one of the key reasons I participate in this raffle. You can see what I bid for here.

To find out exactly how to participate, please see this post.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Menu for Hope -- Why You Should Bid on Prize UE21

Well, it's more like why you should participate at all.

All the funds raised by Menu for Hope 4 raffle go to the UN World Food Program's school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa. This particular program enables the WFP to buy supplies specifically from local, subsistent farmers who practice conservation farming.

You can see amazing photos of the folks in Lesotho here.

Please bid on my prize (detailed below) and learn more about why we do this each year.

This post explains everything you need to know about bidding for a copy of Veganomicon and a 6-pack of raw, organic agave nectar to raise funds for the Menu for Hope.

Please join us in our efforts to help those who need it the most.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Menu For Hope 4 Has Begun -- I'm Offering Veganomicon and Agave Nectar as My Prize!

Note: If you visit both Altered Plates and Here and There, you'll notice that the posts will be similar because I'm promoting the Menu for Hope fundraiser (and my prize, in particular) on both blogs.

For the past four years, a fellow food blogger, Pim of Chez Pim, has organized the Menu For Hope fundraiser in support of the UN World Food Program. Five years ago, the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia inspired her to find a way to help, and the very first Menu for Hope was born. In 2006, Menu for Hope raised US$60,925.12 to help the UN World Food Program feed the hungry all over the world.

As Pim says, "We may never eradicate hunger from the face of the earth, but why should that stop us from trying?"

Each year, an ever-growing group of us food bloggers from all over the world join forces to host the Menu for Hope online raffle, offering an array of delectable culinary prizes. For every US$10, the donor receive a virtual raffle ticket toward a prize of their choice. This year, I'm offering a copy of "Veganomicon" and a six pack of raw, organic agave nectar bottles (23-oz each) for my raffle prize.

"Veganomicon">Veganomicon," by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, is the third book by the famed Post Punk Kitchen Duo of Brooklyn. The recipes are very easy to produce, tasty and easy to alter, if necessary. Because there are so many different types of healthy and delicious recipes, it's a book everyone should have in their kitchen, not just vegetarians. The recipes use easy-to-find ingredients and most take fewer than 10 steps to make. Makes a great gift for a new cook as well as a seasoned chef.

Madhava raw organic agave nectar is 25% sweeter and one-third as glycemic as sugar. It's a vegan, delicious, and natural processed sugar substitute. It has the consistency of honey, but without the heavy flavor profile. It's perfect for
drizzling over Greek yogurt. Comes from agave cacti in Mexico. Kosher.

To Enter

If you're interested in participating in the raffle, here's what you need
to do:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from
our Menu for Hope at

You also could visit the East Coast regional Menu for Hope 4 page to see what others in my region are offering (some pretty big stuff!).

2. Go to the donation site at
and make a donation.

3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the
'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your
donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please
use the prize code. VERY IMPORTANT INFO: MY CODE IS UE21. Example:

Basic Order

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize
of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for
EU01 and 3 tickets for UE21. Please write 2xEU01, 3xUE21. Example:

Advanced Order

4. If your company matches your charity donation,
please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim
the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to
see your email address
so that we can contact you in case
you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Check back on Chez Pim on
Wednesday, January 9, 2008 for the results of the raffle.

Thanks for your participation, and good luck in the raffle!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Just in Time for Hannukkah -- Latke Crisps!

Crunchy, yummy, and low fat are three ways to describe this tasty new snack available from Thou Shall Snack. Latke Crisps are very light, not at all what you'd expect a potato pancake crisp to taste like. What they do taste like is rice crisps -- most likely because the second ingredient is rice flour.

I liked the sour cream and onion variety so much I ate the entire 1 oz. bag. Lucky for me, that's only 110 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. They come in other flavors such as original and zesty veggie.

The best part about Latke Crisps is that they're not fried -- they're baked! I know, I love friend food too, and I know that it's Hannukkah (well, when the sun sets in a few hours). But think about all the heavy, caloric food you'll be having this holiday season. Don't you want a light, crunchy, savory snack that isn't going to cost you hundreds of calories?

Overall, I'm not sure they really remind me of actual latkes, but I liked the flavor, texture, and novel idea behind them. You have to admire the company name, too, Thou Shall Snack. Although I keep wanting to type it as "Shalt" instead of "Shall." Oh well.

Happy Hannukkah! May all your dreidels land on Gimel. :D

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Baked Cheesy Goodness

Today I made some truly amazing, gooey, cheesy baked macaroni and cheese. I loosely followed Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything, and used a bit more cheese.

I'm a huge admirer of Bittman and his work. Each Thursday, I look forward to the New York Times Online posting his Minimalist cooking segments. More than anything else, I enjoy tinkering with his recipes. They're so flexible and easy, that's it's hard not to like them.

This home-cooked mac and cheese has risen to the top ranks of yummy comfort foods in my book. It's pretty cheesy stuff, so a little goes a long way.

So, for your enjoyment, here's a short movie of my experience making this very tasty dish.