Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Cleveland, but I have lived in the Detroit area since 1982. I have undergraduate and masters’ degrees in business, and I worked in consulting prior to the birth of my two children, now 23 and 25. Through the years, I have been active in a variety of community activities, including organizing a reading program at Glazer Elementary, and being on the boards of Temple Beth El and Summer in the City. I have had an ongoing interest in healthy cooking, nutrition, and fitness, and have recently decided to focus my volunteer efforts in sharing those passions. I believe healthy living is a lifestyle decision that anyone can embrace.
What led you to Cooking Matters?
I have donated to Gleaners for many years, and had read about the Cooking Matters in the newsletter. I wasn’t sure how to get involved, since I do not have any formal training in nutrition or culinary arts. I was fortunate to be at a meeting at Gleaners in connection with my work at the Wayne State Farmers’ market, and I asked Rachelle Bonelli about Cooking Matters. She introduced me to Rebecca Blauw, who graciously sat down with me on the spot and oriented me to the program.
How did you first get involved at the Wayne State Farmers Market and what kind of work do you do there in the summer?
I happened on to the Wayne State Farmers’ Market by chance late in the summer of 2013. I was on campus with my daughter, and she encouraged me to talk to the people working at the Healthy Eats station. I put my name on a list, and soon after got a call to volunteer, starting with doing miscellaneous market tasks, such as customer counts, distributing customer surveys, and manning the Healthy Eats booth. I was fortunate to establish a good rapport with SEED Wayne’s director and founder of the market, Kami Pothukuchi. In 2014, she allowed me to get involved in all aspects of the market’s operation, including vendor contracts and coordination, weekly logistics, coordinating special events such as cooking demonstrations and programming for area seniors ( in conjunction with Gleaners), distributing recipes and nutrition handouts, etc. There is a lot that goes into putting on a successful, vibrant market for 23 weeks! It has been a great learning experience for me, and has allowed me to merge my business and marketing background with my interests of community involvement, healthy eating, and supporting local farmers.
What is your fondest food memory?
Well, I am not sure it is “fond” and it is not about healthy cooking, but it is a vivid food memory! When I was 21, I was trying to bake a cheesecake for my then boyfriend’s (later to be husband’s) birthday. I had never used a springform pan before, and I apparently put it together incorrectly. When I poured the batter into the pan, it immediately leaked all over the floor! Needless to say I cried!
What is your favorite fruit?
Granny Smith apples. I eat one every day!
Do you have a recipe that you’d like to share?
I like recipes that are healthy and not overly complicated. I recently tried this recipe for Baked Oatmeal, and it is delicious! It is easy to make ahead on the weekend, and reheat the leftovers for quick weekday breakfast.
Maple-Cinnamon Banana & Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from the Oh She Glows Cookbook
2 1/4 C gluten free rolled oats
2 T brown sugar
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t baking powder
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t fine grain sea salt
1/4 t ground nutmeg
2 C unsweetened almond milk
1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
1/4 C pure maple syrup (Note-perhaps can omit to cut down on sugar)
2 t pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas
1 1/2 C blueberries
1/2 C walnuts, chopped
Alternate version-instead of bananas and blueberries, use 2 apples ( 1 Sweet such as Gala, other tart, such as Granny Smith) and 1 ripe pear, all peeled and diced.
Can make mixture night before, cover and refrigerate overnight in casserole dish, bake in the morning. Let dish sit on counter while oven preheats. Uncover and stir gently to redistribute the milk (Note-I found milk was mostly absorbed into oats). Bake as directed.
1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a 2 or 3 quart casserole dish.
2. In large bowl, combine rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, salt, and nutmeg. Mix well.
3. In separate bowl, combine almond milk, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir well to combine.
4. Pour liquid mixture over the oat mixture and stir until combined. The mixture will have soupy consistency. Fold in fruit of your choice.
5. Spoon the oatmeal mixture into the prepared casserole dish and smooth out top. Sprinkle with walnuts, gently press them down into oatmeal.
6. Bake, uncovered 35 to 45 minutes, or until oatmeal is bubbly around the edges and browned.
7. Cool the oatmeal for 5-10 minutes before serving. Can serve with splash of almond milk or drizzle of maple syrup, if desired.
8. Cool completely before wrapping any leftovers in airtight container. Will keep 5-6 days in refrigerator, 2-3 weeks in freezer. (Note: I cut mine into individual squares and froze. Reheat at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. I am sure it could be microwaved also)
Tell us a little about yourself.
My husband (Mark) and I eloped last summer on a motorcycle ride to West Virginia. This has made me the happiest woman, and I love my husband so much. We live on Ann Arbor’s Old West Side. I am a graduate of Eastern Michigan University’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics, and am employed as a clinical dietitian at a 450-bed community hospital in Flint, MI. My assignments include the long term acute care unit, and our CCU. It is challenging and interesting work. I love working with the patients and multidisciplinary team.
Why does cooking matter to you?
Cooking is essential to a happy and healthy lifestyle! I am so passionate about food that I am practically planning dinner while eating my lunch. Being raised in a family in which cooking was never a focus really made me even more interested in learning about good food. I decided early on that I wanted to create a different food culture for myself at some point, and this led me to my career in nutrition.
After a long day, there is simply nothing like coming home and preparing a satisfying dinner. I live for the weekends when I put together a supper for my friends, and bonding with Mark in the kitchen. It’s really special, and brings us a ton of joy.
Knowing how to cook keeps me on track with healthy eating (most of the time), and helps me save money, too. While it’s nice to eat out sometimes, I find it best to have control about what goes into your food. Cooking is assurance that I’m getting nothing but the good stuff and makes my life more delicious.
What is your favorite vegetable?
Veggies of the brassica or cruciferous variety are my favorite, hands down! I can’t get enough turnips, radishes, kale, Brussels sprouts, rutabagas. They all have such interesting shapes (think of those lovely geometric forms of the Romanesco), colors, textures, and that distinctive ‘bitter’ flavor. They’re also packed with nutrition. I mix in kale with a blend of tender lettuces for a really nice salad. I also make easy root vegetable hash by roasting Brussels sprouts with sweet potatoes and rutabagas. Yum!
What do you do in your spare time?
My favorite things are baking, cooking, hosting, volunteering, listening to live music, films, art, and reading, spending time with family and friends, traveling. I try to squeeze in some physical activity. I have a pretty active social life and like to stay busy. On days off, Mark and I might check out some of the interesting restaurants that keep popping up in the area. I love fiction, and am usually reading several publications at any time.
How do you stay active?
I take the stairs at work. When you make several trips to the unit from my basement office, this is actually pretty significant and adds up. Other little things- I walk whenever possible in town, or choose parking spots that are further away from store entrances. I am a member of a gym, and do my best to make it there when I can, and like jogging for exercise. Working with people that have become much debilitated due to illness is my inspiration to keep active. I also want to eat more food J
Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share?
Asian Braised Beef Shank with Hot and Sour Shredded salad
( thanks to Nigella Lawson)
1×2 in. piece of fresh gingerroot
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp. coriander
3 tbsp. veg oil
1 c. Chinese cooking wine or sherry
¼ c. soy sauce
¼ c. packed dark brown sugar
2 quarts beef broth
2 tbsp oyster sauce
¼ c. rice wine vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
8 lb. beef shank on the bone (or 2 ¼ lb. stew meat in cubes)
Salad: 3 carrots, 4 scallions, 1 long red chile, 1 long green chile, small bunch cilantro
Dressing: juice of 1 lime, ¼ c Thai fish sauce, 1 tsp sugar
Peel carrots, and julienne, them along with the scallions and chiles (after trimming and de-seeding), and finely chop the cilantro. Combine all the chopped vegetables and cilantro in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar then dress the vegetables with this. Top the beef with the salad
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Quarter and peel the onions, peel and rough slice the ginger, peel the garlic cloves and put in the food processor with the ground coriander. Blitz until finely chopped, then heat the oil in a large Dutch oven and fry gently until soft, about 10 min. Pour in the Chinese wine (or sherry) and let it bubble up. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, broth, oyster sauce and vinegar. Bring to a boil, and then drop in the cinnamon sticks and star anise. Add the pieces of beef and let everything come to a bubble again then clamp on lid and put in the oven for 2 hours (stew meat may take longer). Take the Dutch oven carefully out of the oven and remove beef to an ovenproof dish using a perforated spoon. Vigorously boil the sauce until it is reduced by half. Arrange beef on a serving platter and poor over reduced sauce over top.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been the Executive Chef for the Detroit Lions for the past 10 years. I was born and raised in Detroit. I moved back here from California because I wanted to be a part of the resurgence and revitalization of the city.
Why did you decide to become a chef?
I got interested in cooking at a really young age. My family is Lebanese and Italian, and my grandparents always had a huge garden when I was growing up. They canned and preserved a lot of the home grown produce because money was super tight. I did a lot of the work beside my grandma in the kitchen, and was naturally drawn to it. Gardening, canning, and pickling are fun and really popular right now, but back then they did it out of necessity. It’s cool to see that those activities have come full circle.
How did you connect with Cooking Matters?
I heard about it through the American Culinary Federation. I had been looking for some way to give back and address hunger issues in the community. Cooking Matters sounded great, and I loved the educational aspect. It’s a powerful thing to teach skills that will help people help themselves. There were times when my family was food insecure growing up, but because the adults in my life had a basic level of understanding of food preparation and preservation they were able to really stretch our food dollars. These days, not everyone has that basic knowledge, or think that they don’t have the time or money to cook healthy meals. Cooking Matters is changing that.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering?
A couple of classes into each series, the participants start telling you about the changes they are making at home, and how they are already seeing the benefits. I especially like working with teens because they are forming habits and learning skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. As a chef, it’s amazing to see people get excited about cooking. Our pace of life doesn’t lend itself to thinking about what we cook and eat, or the ramifications. I’ve also really enjoyed some of the teens tell me that after taking Cooking Matters, that they want to become a chef.
What is your favorite holiday food?
I love pumpkin pie. My birthday is in November, and I almost always have it instead of birthday cake.
Do you have a recipe that you would like to share?
High Protein Fall Harvest Quinoa and Lentil Salad
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup lentils
5 cups water
6 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup corn off the cob
1/2 cup scallions
1/2 cup red bell pepper
2 tablespoons red onion
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup sweet potato
1/2 cup butternut squash
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Rinse and drain quinoa. Boil 2 1/2 cups water in two separate pots. Add quinoa to one pot. Cook 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed, remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let it cool. Place lentils in the other pot, cook ‘al dente’, drain, and cool. Chop scallions, red pepper, red onion, carrots, sweet potato, and squash into 1/4 inch dice. Quick steam the squash, sweet potato, and carrots ‘al dente’ and cool. Combine liquids and toss with quinoa and lentils, fold in the veggies, garlic, and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I retired from AAA, where I had worked for many years as the employee relations and diversity manager, in January. We were presented with an early retirement offer and almost 500 people retired at once, which was pretty incredible. I decided to enroll in culinary school at Oakland Community College with my free time. I have two grown daughters. In our family, we are all Wolverines. We all graduated from the University of Michigan.
What made you decide to enter the culinary program?
I’ve always enjoyed cooking. It’s always been my favorite hobby. If I’m bored, I’ll make something. When I have a lot of spare time, I cook too much. It has been interesting learning with a wide range of people in class, especially since a lot of them are younger than my children. Most people in the program want to work in restaurants, but I am mostly doing it for myself. I may go into catering or cottage food business. My first class was actually a nutrition class.
How did you first find out about Cooking Matters?
If there’s ever a channel on at my house it’s Food Network. That’s how I found out about Cooking Matters. Once I had a lot of time on my hands, I started fishing around online and found more information on the website. I was already familiar with Gleaners because AAA always did a can drive each year. Cooking matters is the best kept secret in the world; more people need to know about it!
What do you enjoy most about volunteering with our program?
I love working with kids. It’s just a blast! They’re so curious and open minded. Sometimes you don’t have their full attention, but they’ll try anything in a group like that. This summer, I worked with special needs youth at the Jerry L. White Center. It was a super group of kids.
What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I’m known for my chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling and bittersweet ganache frosting – it’s just known as “the cake”.
Do you have any tips for saving money while grocery shopping?
Don’t go to the store hungry! If you do, you’ll end up in the prepared foods section thinking “I’ll get this, and I’ll get this, and I’ll get this!” Also, stick to what’s in season. That can be a big money saver.
Would you like to share a healthy recipe?
I had a big garden this year, although the squirrels gave my tomatoes a tough time. One of the things I make with the kale I grow is kale chips:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Wash and thoroughly dry 1 bunch of kale. If the kale is wet, the chips will not get crisp.
Remove the kale leaves from the tough stems. Discard the stems.
Tear the leaves into small pieces.
Rub the leaves with about 1-2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes until the edges are barely brown.
Let the kale chips cool on the cookie sheet. They will get more crisp as they cool.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Since living here, I have fallen in love with the city of Detroit! Currently, I am a junior at Wayne State University and honored to be one of only three undergraduate students selected to be a part of the Coordinated Dietetics Program. I also have published research on the affects and preventative aspects of nutrition on Alzheimer’s disease. I have always had a passion for nutrition, but since my knowledge has expanded through studies and research, I love to share my knowledge with others!
How did you first find out about our program?
There are many students at Wayne State who volunteer for Cooking Matters. After hearing their stories of how much they enjoy the program, I decided to try it out for myself!
What is NutriWayne?
NutriWayne is a student-run organization at Wayne State University. There are five other board members besides myself, and we all share a passion for nutrition. Our goal is to educate the Detroit community and student population about nutrition and their health. Additionally, we provide networking opportunities for students majoring in nutrition and food science. This past year, we even published our own virtual FREE healthy cookbook for college students on a budget. Our mission statement is “Sharing what we know, helping our community grow.”
We hear that you’re a cheerleader for the Tigers. What is that like?
I love, love, love it! I have been a dancer since the age of 3. I had the opportunity to audition for the Detroit Tigers Energy Squad this year, and I am so glad I did it! We are a team of about 30, and you can find 6 to 12 of us at every home game. We lead fan activities, give away promotional items, and dance on the dugouts. It is a great organization to work for, and I have met some amazing young women who I am blessed to call my friends.
What is your favorite healthy snack?
Peanut butter banana and KALE smoothie! Trust me, it’s amazing!
What is the best thing about volunteering with Cooking Matters?
My favorite thing would have to be the people themselves– the coordinators, other volunteers, and the participants themselves. I love sharing my knowledge of nutrition, but I also love hearing the participant’s stories, recipe ideas, struggles, and successes. It is truly amazing to watch a class grow over only 6 weeks. Oh, and my classes are always a lot of FUN!!
Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share?
Green peanut butter & banana smoothie!
1 large frozen banana
1 cup chopped kale
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon of agave syrup or honey
(You may need to add ice if not using a frozen banana)
Put everything in a blender and blend!!
Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you decide to pursue a culinary career?
Since the age of 5, I have had a love for baking that was first inspired by my mother. Now, more than thirty five years later, I’m a pastry chef and the founder of Dessert Diva LLC. I graduated from Oakland University, and began my career in accounting. My love for the kitchen continued. I took my passion for baking and went back to school and studied Pastry Arts at Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Michigan. After graduating, I have been involved in designing, baking and delivering cakes, cupcakes and various pastries for her growing number of clients. My passion for the pastry arts has brought smiles to so many throughout Southeast Michigan for over 7 years. My biggest thrill is making wedding cakes; to be part of the biggest day of a couple’s life is awesome.
What is your favorite thing to make for special occasions?
My favorite food to prepare for family and friends is Strawberry Tiramisu.
How did you get involved in Cooking Matters?
I’m involved with the ACF (American Culinary Federation), and at one of the meetings Cooking Matters let all the chefs know about the great opportunity to get involved. Ever since, I try to sign up for classes and be a part of the great group of volunteers.
You’ve become a great Cooking Matters advocate and recruiter at ACF meetings. Why do you think it’s important for culinary professionals to get involved?
It’s important to give back to the community, in any way one can. It’s extra special to be able to help with the field that I’m passionate about: to show how easy it is to cook, and that it really is not hard. I remember one student that did not cook and she shared with the class that she learned so much. It’s times like those that we do not forget. Culinary professionals should give back. Cooking is what we do, and we love to share our knowledge.
As a pastry chef, do you have a recipe for a “sometimes” food that you’d like to share with us?
My current favorite recipe is Strawberry Tiramisu.
1 1/4 cups strawberry preserves
1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons Grand Marnier, divided
1/3 cup orange juice
1 pound mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries, divided
52 crisp ladyfingers
Whisk preserves, 1/3 cup Grand Marnier, and orange juice.
Place mascarpone cheese and 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier in bowl, mix just to blend.
Beat cream, sugar, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier to soft peaks.
Stir 1/4 of whipped cream mixture into mascarpone mixture to lighten, fold in remaining whipped cream.
Hull and slice in half all the strawberries.
Spread 1/2 cup preserve mixture over bottom of 3 quart oblong serving dish or 13″ x 9″ x 2″ glass baking dish.
Arrange enough ladyfingers over preserve mixture to cover bottom of dish.
Spoon 3/4 cup preserve mixture over ladyfingers, then spread 2 1/2 cups mascarpone mixture over.
Arrange sliced strawberries over mascarpone mixture.
Repeat layering with remaining ladyfingers, preserve mixture, and mascarpone cheese mixture.
Cover with plastic and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
Arrange sliced strawberries over tiramisu and serve.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I have been married for 33 years to a wonderful man. We have three grown children and a two-month-old grandson. I retired last year from a finance position at Severstal North America in Dearborn and I have been thoroughly enjoying my free time!
How did you first connect with Cooking Matters?
A year or two before I retired, I was invited to attend a Gleaners’ Women’s Power Breakfast. I was moved by the stories of food insecurity right here in our own communities. When I retired, I decided to find a place to volunteer and Gleaners came to mind. I looked at the volunteer opportunities on the Gleaners web site and Cooking Matters seemed like a great program. I thought of the old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Cooking Matters is a perfect fit for me because I love to cook and I’m interested in nutrition, so I signed up to be a class assistant.
What has been your best Cooking Matters moment so far?
I assisted Jake with a class of seniors recently. After the first class, one of the participants approached me and said, “Most of the programs they bring here [to the senior apartment building where the class was held] are ‘nonsense’. But this one is different. Cooking Matters is not ‘nonsense’.” Except she used a slightly more colorful word than “nonsense”. I loved it because she recognized after just the first class that we were sharing good information and that the class was going to be really useful.
Do you volunteer anywhere else?
I volunteer with a couple of other Gleaners programs: Fresh Food Share and the DTE Energy Garden in Farmington Hills. I also volunteer with the Detroit Public Schools’ Volunteer Reading Corps. I help kindergarteners at Dossin School with their reading skills.
What other things do you do in your spare time?
I like to spend time with my family and friends. I also enjoy cooking, knitting, reading and gardening.
Is there a recipe you would like to share with us?
This is one of my favorite quick dinners. In the time it takes to cook the spaghetti, you can make this wonderful, fresh sauce.
4 medium cloves of garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (1 packed tablespoon)
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3-4 tsp minced anchovies (about 6-8 fillets)
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
3 Tbsp rinsed capers
3/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped coarse
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Meanwhile, mix garlic with 1 Tbsp water in a small bowl; set aside. When water is boiling, add 1 Tbsp salt and pasta; stir to separate pasta. Immediately heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté garlic and water mixture, red pepper flakes, and anchovies until garlic is fragrant but not brown – 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened – about 8 minutes.
2. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, then return pasta to pot; add 1/4 cup reserved tomato juice and toss to combine.
3. Stir capers, olives and parsley (if using) into sauce. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to combine, adding more reserved tomato juice if necessary. Add more salt if necessary and serve immediately.