Monthly Archives: March 2011

Refried Beans

My good friend Jay made this recipe and said they are crazy good and she’ll never buy refried beans again — that’s what I call a glowing review. I haven’t made them yet, but I had to share. It’s a Mark Bittman recipe, if you know who he is (he knows how to cook everything and tells us so). I have black beans in the cupboard, so I might have to whip up a batch of black refried beans, yes?

• 2 cans pinto beans rinsed
• 2 Tbsp. butter
• 1/4 c. chopped onion
• 2 tsp. cumin (or to taste)
• 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
• salt and pepper

From Jay:
1. Melt butter in a frying pan, add beans.  Mush using a potato masher, fork or the back of your spoon until you get the consistency you like.

2. Add onion, cumin, cayenne and salt and pepper.  Continue stirring until the onions are a little tender.  I added a little water to thin it up a bit since it was hard to stir.

3. Eat!  I ate mine with salsa, sourcream and tortilla chips.  No more canned refried beans ever again, these are way good…  I bet you could add garlic or really anything else you want.


Vegan Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

I borrowed this recipe from my old favorite, The Post Punk Kitchen. That site is one of the first I dove into when I first started exploring vegetarian cooking. After all, it’s where I discovered the best soup of all time, which served as one of my first I Eat Veg posts ever back in 2008.

So, Sunday I decided to make some cookies (not necessarily vegan) and I had an open can of pumpkin and oatmeal on the brain (after Deceptively Delicious Oatmeal in the morning). Before I inundate you with any more links, here’s the recipe. They were really, really really, really, really, really, really good. If I do say so myself.

From The PPK’s Isa Chandra (yes, one of the ladies behind Veganomicon, etc.!). Everything she says is exactly as they were.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

These are soft out of the oven, but as they cool they are nice and chewy. They are a serious crowd pleaser, for crowds with taste buds.

Note: I use flax seeds because they make the texture a little chewier, but I’ve made them without and they’re still good!

baking sheets
2 mixing bowls

2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup canned pumpkin, or cooked pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional: 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Have ready 2 greased baking sheets.

Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, oil, molasses, pumpkin and vanilla (and flax seeds if using) until very well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet in 3 batches, folding to combine. Fold in walnuts and raisins.

Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. They don’t spread very much so they can be placed only an inch apart. Flatten the tops of the cookies with a fork or with your fingers, to press into cookie shape. Bake for 16 minutes at 350. If you are using two sheets of cookies on 2 levels of your oven, rotate the sheets halfway through for even baking. You’ll have enough batter for 4 trays.

Remove from oven and get cookies onto a wire rack to cool. These taste best when they’ve had some time to cool and set. They taste even better the next day!


Wrapping up school, kicking off the rest of my life

It has been a whirlwind of activity around here since I got back from Culinary Business Academy in Georgia nearly a month ago — thus, not a single post! My personal chef business, Fresh Chef Detroit, officially is up and running and I’m ready for clients!

See? I graduated from CBA and everything:

Our last day was a short one — class in the morning for those of us who cooked the afternoon before, then lunch and some final notes with the gang. We also got to peek inside Cathy’s car to see how she packs things up — sounds like that wouldn’t be too revealing, but it’s actually been a huge help during the couple of cook days that I’ve done.

I actually hear Cathy’s voice in my head and have followed her advice at almost every turn. I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to go to CBA and to learn from Cathy and the other chefs who spoke to us. I’m able to put the lessons she made over the course of nearly two decades as a personal chef into practice immediately — hopefully with fewer blunders than I would have had.

It’s also great to have a group of people in the same exact position that I’m in to bounce ideas, failures and victories with! My classmates and I all e-mail each other to say how we’re doing and that’s been invaluable. I so appreciate those who have been e-mailing and I’m so curious about those who have not!

There have been a few bumps in the road, but mostly everything has been going really smoothly and I’m ready to start this next chapter in my life. I am so lucky to have friends and family who have been so encouraging and supportive (even when they wondered what the hell I was doing, I imagine). And I’m pretty sure my squeeze is trying to win the Fiance of the Year Award, as he has provided an endless supply kind words, generosity, and hugs-at-just-the-perfect-moment.

Today, I had a full cook day, came home to find my D an C playing Scrabble, took a shower, made dinner for my own family and we all got to sit down together and eat. THAT doesn’t happen nearly enough and it will much, much more once I’ve transitioned full-time to personal cheffing. I can’t wait. (Claire didn’t seem quite as excited when I asked, “Isn’t it great that I’ll be able to make you a healthy dinner every night?” She knew better than to say anything to the contrary!)

I’m really glad we had our first ever ‘real’ family vacation the week after I went to school — because I can’t imagine being able to take a whole week off again until maybe my honeymoon in 2012! Well, we’ll see, but it will be a busy year for sure. Here are a few shots of our Florida adventures:

Up next is VegFest on Sunday, March 27, hosted by VegMichigan. I served as VegMichigan’s newsletter editor for a couple of years, before passing the torch recently to focus on the business. VegFest brings thousands of people in from around the state who listen to speakers (this year it’s Chef Matt Prescott and, for the second year in a row, former Piston John Salley — yes you can be vegan and an athlete!); get information and items from veg- and earth-friendly companies, including dog food, authors, soap-makers and more; and — of course — tons of food samples.

I’m going to have a booth there to spread the word about Fresh Chef Detroit and I’ll be handing out a little something to my visitors too. Look for this banner:

I’ll also be doing a food demonstration! I’m going to teach a couple hundred people how to make raw edamame hummus. I made some yesterday — doesn’t it look good?

VegFest outgrew its former home at Ferndale High School last year when more than 2,000 people attended. This year it will be in Novi at the Suburban Connection Showplace (formerly Rock Financial Showplace). It’s free for VegMichigan members and only $10 for everyone else — totally worth it (and there’s even a whole area of things for the kiddos too).

OK, that’s enough for now. Starting tomorrow — an actual post containing a recipe again! Looking forward to getting back to it!