Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Month of Menus

As we wind down the year, we wind up the action at Well on Wheels headquarters. Life has been busy with planning events, cooking demonstrations, holiday dinners, and... buying a house (details to follow)!  Amidst all of the flurry of activities, I've also been cooking weekly meals for my lovely and loyal clients.  Here's a peek at the past month of menus.

 Week One

 Black Bean with Fire-roasted Tomatoes in Adobo, Chili Spiced Zucchini, and Brown Rice

Soy Sesame Baked Tofu with Cabbage and Carrot Sautee on Brown Rice

 Chickpea "Tuno" and Cruciferous Vegetable Slaw

 Week Two

 Tofu with Peanut Sesame Cabbage on Brown Rice

Summer Vegetable and Cannelini Bean Sautee with Dijon Cream Sauce on Baked Polenta

Temeph and Kale Sautee with Curried Butternut Squash Risotto

Week Three

Buffalo Tofu and Cauliflower with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Tofu, Broccoli and Carrot Stirfry with Brown Rice

Pan-fried Tempeh with Wild Rice Pilaf and Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Week Four

Baked Tofu with Cranberry Compote, Cider Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Sesame Green Beans

Penne with Pumpkin Cream Sauce, Snow Peas, Shiitake and Toasted Pistachios

Cajun Tempeh and Collards on Brown Rice

Week Five

Malaysian Coconut Tofu Curry with Brown Rice 

Pan-fried Tempeh with Porcini Mushroom Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Kale, Kabocha Squash and Aduki Bean Sautee with Brown Rice

Week Six

Triple Green Tofu Stir-fry with Brown Rice

Tofu and Summer Squash Scramble with Home Fries 

Tempeh with Dijon Agave Glaze, Quinoa and Green Beans Amandine

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cooking Demo at Case Memorial Library

(photo by Carolyn Stanley)

It's a packed month of cooking demonstrations at Well on Wheels headquarters.  I kicked off the fall leg of the "Easy Peasy Vegan Eats" book tour with a primarily raw demo at Case Memorial Library in Orange, CT.  It was a full house of guests eager to learn how to make quick and easy recipes with seasonal veggies.

I demonstrated how to use a spiralizer to make zucchini spaghetti.  This was tossed with a luscious pumpkin seed pesto which one attendee said tasted just like it was made with parmesan cheese.

 (photo by Carolyn Stanley)

Lucia with the endless zucchini noodle! (photo by Carolyn Stanley)

The other dish I made was a gluten-free twist on a Mediterranean favorite,  Tabbouleh.  Instead of bulgar wheat, I substitute a combination of red and white quinoa.  It cooks just as quickly and has a soft, yet chewy texture.  Combined with the same essential ingredients of cucumber, tomato, onion, fresh mint, parsley, lemon and LOTS of garlic, the finished dish is colorful and flavorful.

(photo by Carolyn Stanley)

When I asked at the end how many people think they could eat this way, nearly everyone in the room raised their hand and heartily applauded afterward.  I'm always thrilled when this is the verdict!

(photo by Carolyn Stanley)

The next day I received this lovely email from one of the attendees.  It made my day.
"Thank you for coming to demonstrate how to prepare vegan meals at Case Memorial Library Thursday night. I learned a lot. Your presentation also helped to push me closer to a vegan diet. First I have to get to a vegetarian diet!"
I feel so very fortunate to get to do this.  Thank you, Sue Cook, for organizing this event and Lucia for your fabulous introduction and assistance in cleanup duties.  Thank you also to Carolyn Stanley for taking the candid photos - I'm glad you were able to get promoted from the waiting list to attend!

CT Style: Edamame Succotash

"Sufferin' succotash!!"  How can you not think of Sylvester the Cat saying that whenever you hear the word succotash? That's what we kept saying off camera while on the set of WTNH TV's "CT Style."  I was back again to tape the cooking segment and featured this quick and easy "work night meal" recipe.

This traditional Native American recipe is made with corn and beans, which together form a complete protein.  I chose to do a contemporary twist on this dish by substitution edamame (soy beans) for the standard lima beans, plus I added some cherry tomatoes for an extra pop of seasonal color.

You can see the full segment and get the recipe here:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Easy Peasy Vegan Cooking Class

This week I had the pleasure of teaching a seasonal cooking class featuring recipes from my new cookbook, Easy Peasy Vegan Eats.  This was for the North Branford Adult Education program, which is part of the Connecticut Shoreline adult education system ERACE.

Nine students gathered with me in the school's cafeteria to learn about vegan cooking, where to get your protein, iron and calcium, and how to make quick and easy recipes that everyone will enjoy. I was happy to hear that most everyone was familiar with the health benefits of a plant-based diet and had come to the class wanting to learn more about what to eat to reverse conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and diverticulitis.  I think everyone was also pleasantly surprised to learn that healthy food could also be pretty darn tasty, too!

The menu featured recipes made with fresh local ingredients I picked up from the City Seed farmers market in Edgewood Park.  The gorgeous heirloom tomatoes were from Rosedale Farm in Simsbury and the luscious peaches were from Rose's Berry Farm in Glastonbury.  Using these fruits and vegetables when they're at their peak provides the most nutrients and flavor.

For our main dish I made Three Sisters Stew which incorporates squash, corn and beans into a tomato based broth seasoned with cumin and oregano.  The dish was served on top of creamy polenta and garnished with a drizzle of parsley pistou and a sprinkling of toasted spiced pepitas.

The colors, tastes and textures create a culinary balance that leaves one feeling satisfied.

For dessert I modified a recipe for Gooey Toffee Apple Crisp from my cookbook, substituting peaches for the apples because they just looked so tempting.  They soften up in the oven and meld nicely with the crunchy topping.  A dollop of vegan coconut milk ice cream would be the perfect accompaniment, but this was a nice refreshingly sweet ending to the meal on its own.

Thank you to Pat Cardozza and ERACE for inviting me to give this class and for everyone who attended.  I will be creating more meals like this in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for more Easy Peasy classes and events!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My First Vegan Meal

One of my perks for teaching at Gateway Community College for the past 5 years is that I qualify to take 1 class for free each semester that I teach. So this semester I saw a "Food Writing" class that looked interesting and thought, hey, why not, it always helps to get more practice writing and be inspired by other foodies. During our first class meeting the instructor asked us to write briefly about a vivid food memory and then share our stories with the class. Out of 11 students, 4 shared stories about growing up and watching some family member kill an animal and then eat it for dinner. 

New directions, new adventures

Over the summer I've been fortunate to travel widely in support of my new cookbook, Easy Peasy Vegan Eats.  It's been a fun adventure being on the road, visiting new locations, sampling local cuisine, and meeting new people.  During this time, I've also been doing a lot of thinking about my vegan personal chef business as well as this blog.  Most of my entries focus on the food I've been cooking, the classes I've been teaching and restaurants I've been eating in.  I enjoy getting to share all of this with you, but there are times when I feel like I want to be saying so much more.  After all, the reason I do what I do is because of the animals. That has always been my purpose, but I feel like this sometimes gets overlooked in the busy day to day activities of running a food service business.

This has recently come to the forefront of attention since I just started taking a food writing class at my local college.  The aim of the class is to help students learn to write restaurant reviews, food blogs and cookbooks.  While these are all worthy aspirations, something about those goals felt inadequate to me, like I was selling myself short.  Sure, there is always room for improvement in all of those areas and I will gladly accept critique of my work in order to become a better writer and blogger.  But I'm much more of an activist than a food writer, an ethical epicure if you will, and I want to communicate from that perspective.  So, from time to time, and maybe eventually more often than not, you will see blog posts featuring animal issues and the ethics of eating vegan.  It matters more to me than a pretty photo or a tasty new recipe.  But don't worry; you'll still get plenty of those, too!

I look forward to expanding the content of this blog and hope you will enjoy taking the journey with me.

For the animals.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Month of Menus

It's been such a busy summer here at Well on Wheels headquarters that I haven't had a chance to post photos of what's been cooking in the kitchen.  From heirloom tomatoes, to fresh local zucchini and patty pan squash, here's a peek at the entrees that have been featured this month.

Black-eyed Pea Fritters with Quinoa Pilaf, Asparagus, Parsley Pistou and Toasted Pepitas

Baked Tofu Puttanesca with Brown Rice and Sauteed Greens

Panfried Tempeh with Dijon Agave Glaze, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Ratatouille and Butter Beans on Baked Polenta

Baked Eggplant Stacks with Tofu Cheese, Fire-roasted Tomato Marinara and Sauteed Greens

Portobello Steak with Miso Glaze, Asparagus and Mashed Potatoes

Bok Choy Boats with Brown Rice and Adzuki Bean Sautee

Tofu and Veggies with Peanut Sesame Sauce on Brown Rice

Refried Beans, Brown Rice and Calabacitas

French Lentil, Brown Rice and Kalamata Olive Pilaf with Fresh Lemon Zest and Green Beans Amandine