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!