Archive for September, 2012

Meet the new CM Volunteer Coordinator: Rebecca Blauw!

Rebecca is a regular volunteer for food pantries both in Hamtramck and her hometown of Grand Rapids. She used to visit her grandmother while she volunteered at food pantries, so it just came natural for Rebecca to help out, too. Through volunteering at Friendship House in Hamtramck, she was introduced to Gleaners Community Food Bank. This past summer, she joined us and volunteered with the Summer Food Service Program. Working with the rest of the summer food team, she helped distribute 140,000 nutritious lunches to low-income children in the region over a period of eleven weeks. Rebecca has now shifted over to join the Cooking Matters team, and is “thrilled” about the opportunity. Rebecca will be taking over as Volunteer Coordinator for Cooking Matters, and she will also help with other programs at Gleaners, such as Kids Helping Kids, Fresh Food Share, SNAP and Summer Food Service programs. Rebecca says she is looking forward to contributing “to a strong network of staff and volunteers so we can reach as many people as possible in the community,” and we are certainly excited to have her.
Rebecca graduated from Hope College where she studied French, Political Science, and Women’s Studies. She also studied and taught English in France for a year, and describes this experience as, “pretty fantastic.” She currently lives in Hamtramk with her 16 year old cat, Missy, and 10 year old turtle, Murtle.

September 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Julia Camden

Tell us about your family.
My husband and I have been married almost 30 years. We have 2 wonderful children who are in college now. My son is in his senior year studying engineering and my daughter is a freshman studying theater production. Since they have left for school, I now have a dog, 3 cats and a guinea pig. My husband works in business and has pursued wine certifications as a hobby.

How did you get involved in the culinary world?

I have always cooked. When I was a child my father, who was an attorney, did the cooking – my teacher mother has no interest and still finds scrambling eggs challenging. My father loves to cook and always was making all types of dishes from all over the world. Both my sister and I were his sous chefs. My father was well known for his cooking, but my sister and I were thrilled to go to friends’ homes and to eat “normal” food – I still love meatloaf and realize how approachable food must be. I also learned the beauty of comfort food. My father taught me to try different techniques and not to be afraid to try something new. The meal could be a disaster but most of the time it turned out surprisingly good. I think I’m a creative person and since I can’t paint or sing I can express my creativity through food.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My husband and I travel a lot and food is at the center of our experience. We love going to restaurants, farmers’ markets, and grocery stores. I also enjoy doing the same thing at home. I guess I’m a little obsessed. I love to go to a restaurant and figure out the techniques and ingredients and then make it at home after I’ve gone all over town finding ingredients. Once I have mastered the techniques on my family, I moved on to our friends and my husband and I frequently host charity dinners where I prepare a meal and he is the “wine dude.”

How did you find out about Cooking Matters?
I found Cooking Matters through Volunteer Match. I wanted to contribute something to the community and Cooking Matters allows me to share what I love doing.

Do you have a highlight of a CM class that you’d like to share?
I don’t have a single highlight. I have numerous highlights. Every class I have been involved with I have seen “light bulb moments.” I love the look on someone’s face when they realize they can do it or they like a new vegetable, herb or spice. I love when the participants come into class and tell about how they made a recipe for their family or how they put their own spin on the dish. I think the best part of being involved with Cooking Matters is it is rewarding for everyone – volunteers and participants.


2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1-2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large can of whole tomatoes
1 can of canned tuna – drained (packed in water preferably)
¼ C chopped green olives
½ box whole-wheat spaghetti pasta
Optional: minced Italian Parsley and Parmesan cheese

Heat large skillet on medium heat. Add 2 Tbs. olive oil and sauté onion until lightly browned. When onion is almost done add garlic and pepper flakes. Pour liquid from tomatoes from the can into skillet and reduce heat to medium low. Take the whole tomatoes and crush in your hand into the skillet – looking for small chunks of tomato. Add the drained tuna and olives and mix into sauce and simmer while you make pasta.
When pasta is cooked, drain it and mix into sauce. Serve top with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese (although Italians don’t generally service cheese with fish/seafood)
Serves 4

September 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

And the winners of the Blogger Extreme Food Makeover are …

We are excited to announce the winners of our first Blogger Extreme Food Makeover! I just wanted to say how excited and happy I am with the entries; they were absolutely beautiful and undoubtedly delicious … and if any of you ever want me to taste test the food, you know how to reach me!

First of all, it was a pretty exciting contest online. Stephanie jumped out to an early lead but thanks to a huge outpouring of support during the last half of the voting period, Colleen ran away with the title of Fan Favorite for her healthy makeover of fried chicken.

Colleen is the Fan Favorite!

Here’s a sampling of what some of our voters said:

Colleen gets my vote. She prepared a well-rounded menu where everything was healthy, delicious and inexpensive.

The coleslaw was vibrantly crisp and fresh and the chili corn muffins had an unexpectedly delicious zip to them.

Check out all of the comments here.

Our other winner was selected by Jake Williams and Vani Sohikian, Cooking Matters Michigan coordinators with Jake weighing in as our chief culinary expert and Vani offering her insight from a nutritional standpoint. They both agreed that Dave Moss reigned supreme with his Indian-inspired turkey burger, sweet potato fries and dessert.

Dave won the title of Extreme Food Makeover Master after Jake and Vani said his cuisine reigned supreme.

Jake picked Dave because “not only did he use all 3 secret ingredients but he embodied what an Extreme Food Makeover is … he used a theme of flavors to inspire his dish.”

Jake added that by taking a cue from an ethnic cuisine, Dave was able to make a dish that tasted great without relying on a lot of fat, sugar and salt.

“Overall it’s a good flavor profile and it made me want to make that burger,” Jake said.

From a nutritional standpoint, Vani gave kudos to Dave for using the MyPlate as a guide.

“He did a great job of incorporating all 5 food groups in good proportions, and used ALL of the secret ingredients in a very creative way,” she said.

“I also found the recipe for the turkey burger extremely intriguing. Adding corn and onion was a great touch and a sneaky way to add some veggies to the dish! Also, the Greek yogurt/ mayo condiment with some curry powder not only sounds excellent and exotic, but is a much healthier version of the usual mayo/ mustard/ ketchup topping that most people use.

“Lastly, the dessert definitely made my mouth water and I definitely will be trying this at home. It is surprising how delicious Greek yogurt can be as a dessert, especially when you are eating it with sweet and delicious roasted plums.”

Congrats to everyone and thank you for a great competition!

September 21, 2012 at 10:19 am Leave a comment

Blogger Extreme Food Makeover: Judgment time

I chose plums as one of the secret ingredients for the Extreme Food Makeover because it’s in season now in Michigan and can be found at local farmers markets. The other secret ingredients included curry powder and fennel.


Update: Please check out Stephanie’s blog post. It pains us to say that Stephanie is bowing out of the voting process. We thank Stephanie for working so hard on her entry and for her social media prowess. Your lasagna, salad and cookies were definitely a hit!

Hey, everyone, your postess with the mostest here. For the Blogger Extreme Food Makeover, I gave the bloggers the challenge of making over a certain unhealthy dish while incorporating at least one out of the three secret ingredients: curry powder, plums and fennel.

From Indian-inspired fare to lightened-up comfort food classics, the bloggers brought it. Here are their tantalizing healthy makeovers!

Here’s where you come in: Vote by commenting below, Tweeting us @cmdetroit or by stopping by our Facebook page. EVERYONE who votes will have a chance to win a gift card. We’ll be picking at random every day so make sure to vote early and vote often!

Colleen Berendt, “Fried chicken” with chili corn muffins and healthy coleslaw
Aly Darin, Healthy Almond Chicken
Lisa Howard, Curried Pizza with Kale, Lentils and Peppers
Dave Moss, Indian-inspired turkey burger, sweet potato fries and roasted plums for dessert
Stephanie Zielinski, Eggplant Zucchini and Portobello Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Mixed Greens and Michigan Apple Salad and Power Peanut Butter and Sea Salt Cookies

September 17, 2012 at 9:40 am 44 comments

Social media smackdown: The blogger Extreme Food Makeover

For their Extreme Food Makeover, these teens served up a black bean burger, sweet potato fries and parfait to win the challenge.

I have a problem — I am ADDICTED to cooking competitions. I don’t like reality TV but if “Top Chef” is on, I have to watch. This is the main reason why I don’t have cable–that and Buffy marathons.

But it’s good to know that my obsession came in handy because it gave me an idea.

In the Extreme Food Makeover, we challenge our teen participants to make over a meal; for example, I have seen teens take the typically fattening fettuccine Alfredo and make it low-fat while still tasty. Or one of the more memorable challenges was when a teen group dished up a black bean burger with sweet potato fries — we were all impressed. To be honest, I have never made a black bean burger that tasty.

The E.F.M. is a way for us to put the teens’ new cooking skills and nutrition knowledge to the test — and I’m always amazed at the healthy and delicious results.

The bloggers — a savvy cooking and eating bunch — will be throwing down this weekend in the Blogger E.F.M. Later this week, I’m going to announce their challenge. What is it, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to come back on Friday to see what it is! At 10 a.m., I will tweet and post on Facebook their challenge. Check us out then and follow the madness and drama online (one participant will be cooking from a Louisiana hotel room — seriously, you can’t find that on Food Network!) as they do the challenge over the weekend.

Have an idea for a secret ingredient or unhealthy dish for them to makeover? Hit the comments below! Allez cuisine!

Meet the cooks:

Colleen Berendt of Miss Petite Sweets
1) Where are you from?
Grosse Pointe Farms

2) What is your day job?
I work in Sales & Catering at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown.

3) What are your favorite local restaurants?
I absolutely love Traffic Jam and Snug & Slow’s.

4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen?
You will always find fresh produce, and whole wheat flour & almond milk for healthy baking.

5) Why should you win the E.F.M.?
I have been cooking and baking for as long as I can remember and have never met a delicious recipe I couldn’t somehow “healthify” without losing any flavor.

6)What is your favorite food memory?
My favorite food memory is going to the farmer’s market with my dad to pick out fresh vegetables to make our homemade gazpacho soup and sharing it with all of our neighbors. The soup has now become legendary in the neighborhood:) (Me thinks Colleen needs to share the recipe! -Dorothy)

7) What is your favorite guilty pleasure food?
Anything Chocolate

8) Why does cooking matter to you?
Cooking matters to me because preparing a meal for someone is the best possible way to show someone you care. Whether it is a three course meal or a simple batch of cookies, the love that goes into it is always apparent.

Aly Darin of The Hungry Dudes (the dudette?)

1) Where are you from?
Originally from Yale, Mich. – currently living in Royal Oak.

2) What’s your day job?
I work for myself & am a professional photographer.

3) What are your favorite local restaurants?
I love Vinsetta Garage, The FlyTrap, Toast, The Emory, Cafe Muse….the list goes on and on!

4) What ingredients can we usually find in your kitchen?
Fruits & veggies that are in season.

5) Why should you win the E.F.M.?
I love the challenge of creating delicious food with a limited number of ingredients! That’s when true kitchen creativity shines!!

6) What is your favorite food memory?
The smell of my Italian grandmother’s sauce – which hit you like a ton of bricks when you walked into her house. That – and grabbing a slice of Oakland bread and trying to dip into the sauce without getting caught!

7) What is your guilty pleasure food?
Anything chocolate!

8) Why does cooking matter?
I love that cooking is like an adventure – no matter what you’re making. You can lose yourself and pour your heart into cooking – whether it is something decadent or something very health conscious. And, cooking for someone is like giving them a big hug!

Bree Glenn of The Mom With Moxie

1) Where are you from?


2) What’s your day job?

Senior Account Executive at a PR firm.

3) What are your favorite local restaurants?

Aubree’s in Northville and Rosie O’Grady’s in Ferndale

4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen?

During the fall/winter: all the fixings for chili, beef stew and homemade chicken noodle soup. During the spring/summer: it varies.

5) Why should you win the E.F.M.?

Because even though I’m not a “foodie,” I’m creative enough to come up with an awesomely healthy dish.

6) What is your fondest food memory?
Waking up on cold school mornings to my mom making us a warm breakfast.

7) What is your guilty pleasure food?
Pizza! Can’t you tell from my favorite local restaurants? 🙂

8) Why does cooking matter to you?
Cooking matters because it’s just one more way I take care of my family. I’m providing the nutritional needs that will enable my son to grow up healthy and strong, and my husband to live a long and healthy life. Cooking matters because nothing brings a family together, like fun times in the kitchen. That is, after all, the number one room in the house where people congregate.

Lisa Howard
of The Cultured Cook

1) Where are you from?
I’m originally from Royal Oak, but I’ve also lived in San Diego, Germany, and Costa Rica.

2) What’s your day job?
I’m a blend of things: recipe developer, food writer, culinary speaker & cooking instructor…and also occasionally a freelance editor.

3) What are your favorite local restaurants?
Due Venti in Clawson, Cocoa Tree and Inn Season in Royal Oak, and Sweet Lorraine’s in Southfield. And of course I have to give a nod to the re-opened Joe Muer’s in Detroit—I used to go to the original one all the time as a kid, and it’s a thrill to dine in the updated restaurant.

4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen?
About 45 spices and herbs, chocolate in many different forms (although mostly unsweetened cocoa powder and bars of 85%), and at least a dozen different unrefined oils. I also try to keep my cheese drawer and my fruit basket populated.

5) Why should you win the E.F.M?
This is probably going to sound corny, but it’s really about the fun of participation, not the winning.

6) What is your fondest food memory?
Oh, there are so many! But this year’s unforgettable meal was when I dined at Alfileritos 24 in Toledo, Spain. Not only was the décor stunning and the staff incredibly friendly and accommodating (I’m a gluten-free person), the octopus carpaccio was a work of modern art: rows of small white circles on a square black plate, garnished with a drizzle of orange sauce and a sprig of fresh dill. The gluten-free tiramisu was transcendent with its meltingly rich layers of mascarpone cheese, cocoa, and espresso liqueur. And of course Toledo itself is a magical medieval city, full of winding streets and mazapán (marzipan) shops.

7) What is your guilty pleasure food?
To me, quality food is never a source of guilt. By “quality,” I mean pastured/grass-fed animal products, wild-caught and sustainable seafood, whole grains, natural sweeteners, unrefined oils, and as many lovely fruits and veggies as I can get my hands on. Hence, I enjoy all of my food—even desserts—and never feel guilty.

8) Why does cooking matter to you?
Cooking is so important for so many reasons: health, enjoyment, a sense of cultural connection, satisfaction, practicality (cooking saves money!), a way to express creativity, even a way to support businesses (i.e., local farmers, food producers, and markets). To cook is to live!

David Moss from Get Sauced
1) Where are you from?

2) What’s your day job?
Stewardship & Events Manager at the ACLU –you know, the people who came up with ‘Can’t Say it? Don’t Legislate it.’

3) What are your favorite local restaurants?
Too many to count. Big fan of Bastone Brewery, Inyo Sushi, Traffic Jam & Snug, Supino’s Pizza, Seva, Pizzeria Biga, Vinsetta Garage.

4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen?
Several flavored sea salts; Trader Joe’s extra virgin olive oil; assorted Asian ingredients—ponzu, Korean bbq sauce, oyster sauce, Thai chili paste, etc; homemade rub for smoking pulled pork, chicken and ribs; wine—either for cooking or drinking.

5) Why should you win the E.F.M.?

Because my cuisine reigns supreme!

6) What is your fondest food memory?

A major birthday celebration that my wife organized a few years ago. Five course dinner, each course paired with a different wine. Good friends, food and wine—it doesn’t get any better.

7) What is your guilty pleasure food?

Chicken Shack—once or twice a year.

8) Why does cooking matter to you?

I enjoy cooking because it allows me to learn about different foods, and to express my creativity. A recent month of eating a vegan diet gave me an appreciation for coming up with choices that didn’t include meat. I enjoy exploring different cultures through food, and different methods of cooking—smoked meats; grilled fish, meat and veggies; stir-frying in a wok or searing in a cast-iron skillet. There’s so much to learn, which is why cooking never gets boring.

Sandi Svoboda from Mode Shift

1) Where are you from?

Grosse Pointe Park

2) What’s your day job?

Freelance writer when not deployed as a reservist with FEMA. Currently I am part of the recovery in Louisiana after Hurricane Isaac.

3) What are your favorite local restaurants?

Foran’s, Senor Lopez, Clarkston Union, Cass Cafe, Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes

4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen?

Olive oil, spinach, couscous, one piece of good cheese — even in my Louisiana hotel room…

5) Why should you win the E.F.M?

I should win because not only will my dish be flavorful, healthy and economical, but it is produced in either a hotel room or a mobile office set up for the hurricane response. Not exactly the amenities of my home kitchen.

6) What is your fondest food memory?

One of my fondest food memories is the first time my now husband took me to the Clarkston Union on a date, early in our dating life. Their “upscale comfort food” isn’t exactly always healthy, but the place is very communal with a basic but creative menu. A favorite cooking memory is when I first made roasted carrot and leek risotto. I had never thought I could cook a dish that tasted like that. It’s my go-to for company as it’s totally restaurant quality.
7) What is your guilty pleasure food?

Homemade Nutella ice cream.
8) Why does cooking matter to you?

First because it’s so important to our health. Second because it can be such an important family and community builder. Third because it has such vast implications for the planet – by choosing local and organic whenever possible, it’s one little step that each person can take to make the world a little better.

Stephanie Zielinski of Cookie A Day
1) Where are you from?
I am from Royal Oak where I grew up and now live with my husband and three boys. We actually live on the same street I grew up on, just a mile 1/2 mile down.

2) What’s your day job?
I coach a high school dance team as well as being a stay at home mom for the past 8 years.

3) What are your favorite local restaurants?
One of my new favorites…Vinsetta Garage!

4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen?
You will always find garlic, bananas, and kale in my kitchen, I go to the local market often and always buy those ingredients…even if I know I have them at home.

5) Why should you win the E.F.M.?
I should win the E.F.M.C. because over the years cooking fo children I have learned to make the healthiest of foods attractive to even a 4-year-old.

6) What is your fondest food memory?

My fondest food memory was learning how to make homemade pasta in my grandma’s kitchen. I was with my cousin and after 5 minutes of grandma telling us we were doing thing wrong she shoved us out of the way and finished herself. We were told to only watch that time. After a few more lessons, she trusted us enough to allow us to make the pasta. I was 16. My son, Noah, who is 12 made his first plate of homemade pasta just a few weeks ago.

7) What is your guilty pleasure food?

Salted Popcorn!!! I love it, make it almost every night.

8) Why does cooking matter to you?

Cooking to me is more then just providing healthy food for my family. It’s preserving and honoring the traditions we have and are now creating with our family. There is nothing better then sitting around a table with love ones who enjoy what you created for them or together.

September 10, 2012 at 7:04 am Leave a comment

Meet the newest Cooking Matters Americorps Member: Alexa Eisenberg

Alexa just joined our team yesterday, and her energy is already an excellent addition to the Cooking Matters Michigan program. Having just graduated from the University of Michigan, majoring in Environmental Studies (with a focus on Food Systems) and Communication, Alexa is all about helping to change the whole environment and system of food to better help those in need.

During college Alexa held some impressive positions, including tutoring low-income individuals in New York City and working with the League of Conservation Voters, which is a lobbyist group that advocates for better environmental policy. Impressive as those are, her work on an organic farm in Ann Arbor tops her list of favorite experiences. As a farm hand for a small community-shared agriculture (CSA) program, Alexa says she was covered in dirt all day every day doing nothing but farming and she absolutely loved it.

With an interest in food justice, particularly in Detroit, Alexa knew Gleaners was the perfect fit for her. She officially signed her lease for her new apartment in the city yesterday, and is looking forward to picking up her new cat after work today, whom she already named Ani (I approve of this name choice). In her spare time, Alexa loves to cook (vegetarian, as she practices a vegetarian diet), garden, and practice yoga. She loves the US and hopes to travel all around the country. She also hinted at a possibility of heading to graduate school to pursue a Master’s in Public Health (yay!) and focus on environmental health and urban planning, all in relation to food.

September 5, 2012 at 6:42 pm Leave a comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Dawn Claybrooks

at her graduation from culinary schoolTell me about yourself and/family

I am the baby of my parents’ 4 children. I have always cooked with my mom she has been the inspiration for my current culinary career.

Why did you get into the culinary world?

I began my culinary career due to becoming severely bored with my current automotive job. I wanted to live my dream as opposed to living someone else’s dream. I love food as well as health awareness and with my mother getting older I wanted to help her to eat healthier, and live longer

You are my one-time demo queen (or rockstar as Ariana would say). What makes you enjoy demos so much?

I enjoy demos because it gives me the chance to teach people that may not normally think eating healthy can taste good.

What led you to Cooking Matters?

There was a demo done by Cooking Matters at my job a couple years ago and I inquired about getting to do cooking demos. The guy that was doing the demo was very uncooperative so I took to the internet and googled Cooking Matters and met Dorothy Hernandez and she helped me to begin my Cooking Matters volunteering. I have been a volunteer since March 2012 and I have done 2 of the 6 week classes (at the same time): 1 class on Tuesday a families class and a kids class on Wednesday with Tamara Landazuri and it was a totally awesome experience. (Dawn has also done almost all of the one-time events we have had this summer- Vani)

Do you have a highlight from a Cooking Matters class?

At the end of my CM kids class the graduation ceremony, as the students received their chef hats, they requested that I sign their hats and it was so awesome to me that those children wanted me to be a part of their ceremony. I shed so many tears that day (tears of joy of course).

What do you do in your spare time?

I am currently trying to create recipes for a cook book that I plan to write in the future while I build a catering business and continue to volunteer for Cooking Matters.

Do you have a cheap healthy recipe you can share with us?

Pineapple Salsa

1 Pineapple medium diced
1 Jalepeno pepper (or to taste)
1 Red bell peper
1/2 Tbs. Honey

Peel & dice pineapple.
Finely dice jalepeno pepper removing seeds and veins (unless you want it really hot).
Medium dice red bell pepper.
Mix all fruits and veggies together in a bowl, then add honey and chill.

I like to use and organic blue corn chip to eat with this salsa

The total cost to buy the ingredients isabout $6, which ends up being about 63 cents per serving.

September 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

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This material was partially funded by the State of Michigan with federal funds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by way of the Michigan Nutrition Network at the Michigan Fitness Foundation. This work is supported in part by the Michigan Department of Human Services, under contract number ADMIN-10-99011. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Michigan Fitness Foundation or the Michigan Department of Human Services. In accordance with Federal law and USDA policy, these institutions are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720- 6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more contact the toll free Michigan Food Assistance Program Hotline at (855) ASK-MICH. Space-Limited USDA/DHS/MNN Credit Statement This material was partially funded by the State of Michigan with federal funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by way of the Michigan Nutrition Network at the Michigan Fitness Foundation. These institutions are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability. People who need help buying nutritious food for a better diet call the toll free Michigan Food Assistance Program Hotline: (855) ASK-MICH.