Archive for October, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight: Gina Fox

Tell me about your family.

I have one son and a husband. We live in Grosse Pointe on the east side.  My husband and I both come from large families.  My son, Michael, is 27 and a first year practicing attorney. He doesn’t cook though.  He’s like the shoemaker’s son who doesn’t wear shoes!

How did you get involved with cooking and nutrition?

Growing up, if you ever needed to find my mom, she was in the kitchen.  You’d go in there to ask her a question, and she’d have you peel a potato or something, and then she’d answer your question.  I have my undergraduate degree in home economics and my masters in teaching.  I was a home-ec teacher for many years.  Back in the day, that’s what they called it, home-ec…now it’s “life management.”  Out of six kids in my family, four of us are teachers.  I always felt that’s what my mom really wanted- to be a teacher.  So she was always teaching us how to cook.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to cook.  Because my husband and I come from such big families, we are constantly having gatherings.   I also love decorating.  I’m very hands on and tactile.  I volunteer with the organization humble design that helps furnish and decorate home interiors for moms and kids coming out of shelters or escaping domestic abuse.   Family and home takes up most of my spare time.

How did you hear about Cooking Matters?

I was actually watching TV one day and I saw Jake on FOX channel 2 doing a cooking demo.  I thought to myself, “this is something I can do.”  I’m a retired teacher of one year, but once a teacher, always a teacher.

 Do you have a go-to recipe you’d like to share?



1/2 lb. lean ground beef

2 Tbs. Olive oil

1 medium chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1 (19 oz ) can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14 oz) can low sodium chopped tomatoes

2 Tbs. tomato paste

1 large potato cubed

1 quart beef broth

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs. Italian seasoning

1-2 bay leaf

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 cup Ditalini pasta

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1.  Brown ground beef in a large stock pot. Drain beef and set aside.

2.  Add olive oil to stock pot and sauté, onion, celery and carrots.

3.  To the pot, add reserved ground beef, rinsed beans,tomatoes, tomato paste, cubed potato, beef broth, garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaf and salt and pepper.

4.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer until vegetables are barely tender. Remove bay leaf 5.  Add pasta, and simmer for 30 minutes, correct seasonings and serve with grated cheese and a loaf of crusty Italian bread.

I make this recipe quite often. We are big soup eaters in my house and it feels like the weather is calling for me to make some soon.

This recipe serves 6.  As my grandmother use to say if more people arrive than expected “you can always add more water to the soup”.

October 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

Cooking Matters Satellite Programming

Michigan State University Extension Districts

Did you know that Cooking Matters takes place not only in Southeast Michigan, but throughout the entire state? Yes, even the U.P.!

Since Cooking Matters partnered with Gleaners in 1995, the program has continued to expand.  In order to keep up with the demand for Cooking Matters, it became necessary to create satellites: offices throughout Michigan that coordinate classes within their communities.  With the help of our dedicated CM staff (cough, cough–Sarah Mills) and our satellite partners, our capacity for outreach has grown like wildfire over the past two years.

Here is an overview of who our satellites are and how much they have accomplished:

1.  Manistee Community Kitchen

  • 16 classes completed
  • 164 graduates


  • 7 classes completed
  • 63 graduates

3. Michigan Nutrition Network Partners

4. Michigan State University Extension

  • Includes 12 districts that, together, extend Cooking Mattersprogramming throughout the entire state!
  • 54 classes completed
  • 540 total graduates

5.  Henry Ford Health System Generation with Promise

  • 50 classes completed
  • 504 total graduates

Together, Cooking Matters Satellites throughout the state have completed over 139 classes and graduated over 1400 participants!

October 8, 2012 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

Goodbye Vani, You Will Be Missed!


As you may have heard, everyone’s favorite volunteer coordinator-Vani Sohikian- is leaving Cooking Matters.  Without a doubt, this qualifies as a grade-A bummer, but I can’t help but be proud of Vani and wish her well on her way.  Vani is known by Cooking Matters staff as an exceptionally hard worker and a true pleasure to have in the office.  To our volunteers, Vani is their warm welcome to the program, the go-to contact and a consistent reminder that their work really counts (and to sign up for classes).  It only takes a few minutes in one of Vani’s classes to see how much she really cares about this program and its participants.   Her ability to connect with and engage participants is something to be admired, and her impact here has been profound.  OK, enough praise- it will go to her head.  Let’s find out what the future holds for our friend and coworker!

Where is your new job and what will you be doing there?

The Institute for Population Health in Detroit.  It is replacing the Detroit Health Department, which is very exciting.  I will be working as a nutritionist for the WIC (women, infants and children) department.

What do you look forward to at your new job?

I look forward to working with the individuals who benefit from the services provided by the institute and learning more about public health services offered to Detroit citizens.

What was your favorite type of class?

Adults.  I like the older ladies.

Do you have a favorite CM recipe?

I have many.  I love the apple crisp and the southwestern black eyed pea and corn salad.  I also like the kid’s cucumber sandwiches and the peanut butter and banana pockets…

Favorite fruit? 


Favorite veggie?

Brussel sprouts!

Favorite memory?

It’s so hard to pick!  I have a few favorite moments. One of them is when one of my participants in Pontiac on the last day of class said that she had gone to the doctor that morning and her blood pressure, which had always been a problem, was completely normal because she was changing her diet.   Another favorite moment of mine was when I was helping Jake with a demo for kids, and we made the tuna boats, the kids were like, “this is the best thing I’ve EVER had!”.  It was funny because kids usually hate tuna!

What will you miss most about CM?

The staff! Also working with volunteers and learning new things all the time.  I will also miss those moments when you know you’re really getting through to participants.

Finish this sentence: Cooking Matters because:

We all have to eat!

Thank You Vani, for all your hard work.  You will be missed.

And don’t worry, she’ll be back to volunteer as soon as she is settled in her new job!

October 4, 2012 at 9:48 am Leave a comment

Eat Better, Eat Together with your family this October

Editor’s note: We welcome popular mom blogger Bree Glenn to our blog today as she writes about national Eat Better, Eat Together month.

The hubs and I make a concerted effort to eat dinner together, with the kid, every night. With both of us working full time, that sometimes doesn’t happen. But, I’d say we hit the mark at least 95% of the time.

Being a mom and wife who works full time sometimes makes it difficult to get a hot, healthy meal on the table. Lucky for me, I have a wonderful husband who is well-versed in the kitchen and often jumps in, when I can’t be there to get it done.

Often times, I’ll have the hubs and/or the kid assist me with food prep. It’s a great way to cut down on the time it takes to prepare a meal, and it brings us all together in a fun activity. Another way I save time is to use the Crockpot.

The Crockpot is an invaluable device for busy families.

By cooking a meal for us to eat together, I’m not only ensuring we eat a healthy meal, but I’m also ensuring I get some time with my guys to just sit down together over a meal and talk about our days – about how work was for the grownups and how school was for the kid. It serves as a way for us to connect, in our busy, busy lives. I know this will only become more and more important as the kid gets older.

When I was a kid, eating dinner together as a family was a big deal. I can’t imagine a life of not sitting down, at a table and eating at least one meal a day with my family.

Making time to eat together as a family is not only important to the family unit, but according to Washington State University when families eat together:

· Children do better in school and have fewer behavior problems.
· Teenagers are less likely to use alcohol or drugs.
· Communication between children and adults improves.
· Children understand their family’s values and traditions.
· Meals are more nutritious and healthful.

October is National Eat Better, Eat Together Month. I encourage you to click here for more information, recipes and ideas on how you and your family can start the tradition!

Bree Glenn blogs on The Mom with Moxie about living life, to the fullest and finding humor, in life’s little – and not so little – messes. She’s a wife, mom and PR exec trying to juggle family, work, life and everything else. As someone who has dealt with health issues, weight issues, financial issues, job issues, etc., she feels she can provide a unique point-of-view, on life – and how to live it to the fullest, despite whatever trials life may throw at you. She’s also an avid supporter of social media and enjoys connecting with online friends and meeting new ones through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Bree and her husband, MenDale, live in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, with their son, “The Kid.”

October 1, 2012 at 9:20 am 2 comments

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USDA Statement

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.