March is a Memory

Fortunately for us Michiganders, March is over. However, we do have a warm memory of our last supper club at Thought-Design Cooking School. A good time was had by all, and since our driveway was a swamp, it was so much better to be in our home-away-from-home Rockford spot. I hope you follow what Denise and Greg are doing…they have so many cooking, thinking, playing and exercise classes, all with the same goal–to keep your brain fit, active and imaginative. Thank you, Thought-Design.

I have to apologize for being so late. I continue to unbury myself from a heavy workload this past month. I promise to log all the cooking demos in separate easy-to-search posts…soon. For now, let me take you through the evening and invite you to our home once again for another supper club on April 16. If you would like to come, you are welcome. See the details here.

We began the evening with Nancy McQuate’s artistic demo of cashew ranch dressing…

and all the wonderful things to drizzle it on

Next up was Elizabeth Pitzer who graciously shared not only her secrets for making sourdough crackers…

but the starter as well.

Dining was the next order of the evening. Can you blame us? This food was so so good!
Look how everyone’s heads are down.

And who could forget Jeremy’s raw-mazing chocolate cake that you can purchase by the piece at BarterTown. Wow.

The food was good but the company was even better. What a lovely group of people you all are!

Finally, there was a surprise. Kevin Schalkofski presented Roger and me with a ‘watercolor’ landscape of our home. It was actually a photo that he transformed using the Waterlogue App and PhotoShop. It’s hanging proudly in our home as I type this. Thank you so much, Kevin.

Early arrivals on Wednesday can tour the spring ephemeral garden. Bloodroot, trout lily, spring beauty, trillium, mayapple and many more are just beginning to emerge

bloodroot 3

In the meantime…


Preview of March Attractions

You will not want to miss our upcoming supper club at Thought-Design Cooking School and fitness center for the mind on Wednesday, March 19 at 6 p.m. Learn more about the details here. So much to learn!  Demonstrations begin promptly at 6 p.m. (we eat at 6:30) and include the following:

Nancy McQuate (on left), yoga instructor and plant-based foodie extraordinaire will demo a ‘Fabulous and Fun Vertical Salad with Cashew Ranch Dressing.’
Former science and home ec teacher, Elizabeth Pitzer (on right), will be demonstrating her technique for making delicious whole grain crackers. Elizabeth has graciously offered her yeast starter to anyone who brings a smallish jar. Don’t forget!


Linda Squires (on right below), who eats gluten-free and who recently began practicing chiropractic again after leaving a thriving practice in Boston, will demo arugula pesto over rice-based pasta. In addition to being a great chef, Linda is a gifted healer. Learn more about her practice here
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Shane Van Oosterhout (shown here hugging Shandy!)will demo tofu in Indian-spiced tomato sauce. In addition to being a master gardener, multimedia artist and accomplished cook, Shane has recently launched a social media business. You need his services!
Shane-and-Shandy copy

Shane will be ably assisted by …Kevin Schalkofski (shown here with Katie Aschenbach)
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Emma Gasinski and Bryan Smigielski (on left below) will demo a versatile tofu scramble. If you haven’t learned to make this dish, you really need to. Emma is studying yoga and physical therapy and Bryan is a philosophy grad from GVSU.
Emma-Bryan-Sue-Walter copy

So much fun in February!

It’s a toss-up between the great friends, the delicious food and the wonderful demos. We had so much fun at Thought-Design we will be there again on 3/19 with all new demos/chefs. Get ready for a delicious time. In case you weren’t there–or just want to relive it–below is a sampling of the lovely location, the food and the fun.

Before the party started, Roger Gilles perfects his dish…
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The demos went on all evening…
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I snapped this photo before the food was snatched up!

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Roger got everyone to sing Happy Birthday to me with Jeremy’s raw chocolate cake.


Many thanks to our dishwashers, Walter and Evan, who took a break from studying economics and physics at GVSU to work for tips and make all our lives easier.


And to Diane Cisler who has proposed doing a beginner’s demo next month–here she instructs on the difference between a pan and a spoon.

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There were only three beings who didn’t love that we were at Thought-Deisgn and not our home. As you can see, the companion animals are not pleased.

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And now, what you’ve all been waiting for–recipes are either in separate posts (scroll down) or here in the attached pdf…2- 2014 Recipes

Mindy’s Pistachio Halva Bites

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Pistachio Halva Bitess
From Mindy Miner

The recipe is from a book by Douglas McNish called Raw, Quick & Delicious. I made one modification because I can’t find bulk sesame seeds anywhere close by and it’s too expensive to use the bottled version. Also, I doubled the recipe for last night’s crowd. Here goes…

1/2 cup whole raw pistachios (I bought shelled ones)
1 cup raw sesame seeds, divided (I used 3/4 cup raw, sliced almonds and enough sesame seeds to roll the balls in)
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Process pistachios (and almonds, if using) in a food processor until roughly chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
2. In food processor process tahini, agave and vanilla until smooth. Add to nut mixture and stir until it forms a large smooth ball.
3. Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 15 equal portions. Roll each portions in the palm of your hand and then in raw sesame seeds.
4. Place balls on plate or baking sheet covered with parchment paper and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 7 days.


Vegan Gruyere and Beet Carpaccio

Below, find the fun sort of things I do in my classes

Oh, Miyoko! Our supper club guests were swooning over your version of vegan gruyere… I demoed it, but all the credit goes to you. I will add that if you want to make this exactly like what you tasted at Thought-Design, folks, use 2 T of South River Chickpea miso and you’ll need to learn to make rejuvelac, too. It’s not so pretty, but it is tasty!


So if you want something really pretty and really delicious, try the roasted beet carpaccio I brought. I garnished it with beluga lentils (you can use du puy!) and an almond ricotta. I put the overlapping flower shapes on squares of wax paper and then composed the salad on site. Voila!

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Here’s how you do it…
Salt-roasted Beet Carpaccio with horseradish ricotta and French lentils
(serves 4-6)

1 box Kosher salt
3 medium beets, rinsed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Put a layer of salt, ¼ inch deep in a loaf pan. Place clean beets on salt. Do not let them touch.
Pour salt over beets until covered.
Roast in oven for about an hour. Remove pan from oven and let sit until cool.
Peel off skins and slice beets thin with a mandoline. Place them in an overlapping flower pattern on wax paper to keep until ready to assemble.

2 cups water
1 cup du puy lentils, rinsed and drained
1 veggie
bouillon cube (preferably no MSG)

Put all ingredients into a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and quickly lower to barely a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool 15 minutes.

Horseradish Ricotta
1 cup whole, blanched almonds, soaked for 4-6 hours or overnight
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp. horseradish, or to taste
¼ cup plain yogurt
½ tsp. sea salt
Several grinds fresh pepper

Place all ingredients in food processor and run until it has reached a consistency you like. You will probably have to stop and clean the sides with a spatula a few times.

To assemble:
Lay each beet ‘flower’ on a salad plate. Spread ¼ cup ricotta in the center and sprinkle with drained lentils. Garnish with sunflower shoots of flat-leaf Italian parsley.

Morgan’s maple-roasted almond butter

Morgan Doane shared a quick and easy–and delicious–way to make maple-roasted almond butter at our February supper club. Check out the directions below!


Maple-roasted Almond Butter
16 oz. raw almonds
2-3 T maple syrup
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix raw almonds together with maple syrup and pour onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, pulling the sheet our every five minutes to stir. Allow to cool slightly—not too cool or they will be hard to handle. Pour almonds into the food processor and begin to process. This can take a long time (10-20 minutes) depending on the size of your processor and your motor. Stop every so often to scrape down the sides with a spatula. The almonds will go through many stages, including coarse sand, sticky dry mass, clumping mass and finally smooth butter. When is begins to move from clumping together to smooth butter, add the cinnamon and salt. Process until fully incorporated.

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Geoff Fields’ Mushroom Poblano Gumbo

Well, I was tempted to call it ‘Yumbo,’ but that’s so corny and Geoff is so serious!

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Seriously. This was delicious! Thank you, Geoff. Here is a man who takes his recipes very seriously. Recently, he wrote to us–

Disclaimer: I have always known enthusiasm is my strong suit, maybe to the point of excess. You have been warned…

So permit me to say that I have been working on a recipe for the PBSC next month that is, appropriately, fitting for St. Patrick’s Day. I made the second test batch tonight, and I can say beyond a moral certainty that I would eat this stuff every week. It’s the best vegan recipe in my playbook – at least judged by originality and taste – and I cannot wait to have you guys try it.

How cool is it that friends come up with this idea like “Plant Based Supper Club” so that people like me, and others, can spend a cold winter night imagining a recipe for the next get-together? My compliments to you both.

Peace, GF

So here’s the recipe in all its earthy glory…Geoffs Gumbo Recipe