In November 2023, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada collaborated with a group of resilient young individuals who have navigated through the child welfare system to create an e-cookbook called A Safe Plate: Recipes and Stories of Young People from Child Welfare. For those raised in government care, the transition to independent life can be challenging, but the kitchen became a haven—a place for solace, connection, and stability. Today, we will introduce you to Natasha’s story and her tofu stir-fry.
Natasha, 28, recently returned from two years in France, where she immersed herself in the language and culture. Armed with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Linguistics and English from York University, she is gearing up to teach French at a Catholic Primary school as a Language Assistant. Natasha’s educational journey reflects her determination and passion for language, and she plans to continue her studies in either Speech Language Pathology or Teacher’s College in 2024.
Natasha’s entry into the child welfare system came amid her family’s struggle with her sister’s chronic health problems, her mom’s immigration from Tehran post-revolution, and a brutal divorce. At 14, she found herself navigating the complexities of the system. Growing up, Natasha found stability in her mom’s Persian cuisine, especially enjoying koobideh kabob with basmati rice and lots of butter. Despite the challenges, these meals connected her to her mom’s culinary heritage.
The recipe Natasha shares represents a time in her life when she lived on her own at 16. Without cultural roots, it is the result of a teenager navigating the kitchen, proud of its simplicity and health benefits. This unique tofu stir-fry packs a punch of vitamins and protein, reflecting Natasha’s resourcefulness in crafting a wholesome meal.
Natasha’s Tofu Stir-Fry
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 1 block of extra firm tofu
- 2 bunches of broccoli
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 lemon
- As much garlic as your heart desires
- Something to steam the broccoli
- A pan
- A wooden stirring spoon
- A knife to cut the garlic and lemon
- Break apart the broccoli and start steaming it.
- Chop up garlic (at least 2 cloves) and fry them in the pan with olive oil.
- Crumble up the tofu and add it to the pan to fry with the garlic.
- Stir the tofu and garlic occasionally on medium-high heat until the tofu turns a slight golden color. Squeeze at least half a lemon over it.
- Turn off the heat and serve immediately, ensuring the broccoli has properly steamed.
Natasha’s tofu stir-fry symbolizes her early days of freedom and self-discovery. As she embraced independence, Natasha explored various activities, from cardio and weightlifting to yoga and lifeguard certification. This meal symbolizes the joy of making her own choices after years of instability and the freedom to be an independent person.
In sharing her story, Natasha aims to raise awareness about foster kids in non-stereotypical situations. Entering the system at 14, she faced challenges finding a suitable foster family, emphasizing the need for attention and support for older children in care. Natasha advocates for breaking stereotypes and offering comprehensive support to all children in the system, fostering a future where their potential can flourish.
Download A Safe Plate
As we celebrate the incredible journeys shared in A Safe Plate, we invite you to download the cookbook. For every download, $5 will be donated to support children, youth, and families affected by the child welfare system. Your support is not only an acknowledgment of these remarkable stories but also a contribution to positive change. Together, we can make a difference in their lives, offering a taste of home and a testament to the strength found in sharing stories and recipes.
Have you made any of the safe plate recipes at home? Share them on social and tag #asafeplate!
Thank you to our media sponsor Adapt Media for their support of the A Safe Plate project.