Cooking for a Family of 175

In a recent visit to New Lebanon, NY, I learned that Chef Rebecca Joyner, Director of Dining Services Darrow School, and I share a passion: we cook meals for our families from scratch. Mine a family of 4; hers a family of 175.

When I shared my family recipes with Chef Rebecca Joyner, I did not picture a home style cooked meal being served. Fifteen minutes before hungry students came through the door, a homemade meal made from scratch was coming together. The staff rushed to the dinning hall with trays of food that smelled and tasted like my mom’s cooking! It gave me amazing satisfaction to watch students making tall plates of rice, beans, greens, turmeric chicken and fish.  Rebecca had it all under control. I was in charge of the cheese bread and watched Lindsey Garner fast chopping greens.  I kept looking at the clock on the wall–they will be here anytime now, I thought.
So much love went into the meal. Students came and went. Half hour later, the dinning hall was empty, the dishes lined up to be washed, and counters cleaned to start preparing the next meal–dinner. If you are looking for a recipe for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner, here the potato salad we made at Darrow:

Salada de Maionese

2 lb white potatoes
1 lb carrots
2 hard boiled eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cooked green peas
salt, pepper, garlic
Cheiro verde ( parsley and green onions)
1 green apple
bunch of green olives
hearts of palm
1/2 cup seedless white raisins (optional)


Vegan Burial Feast

Vegan Burial Feast

It is an honor to design a feast to follow Kathy High’s  screening of the new video entitled “Death Down Under”.

”Death Down Under” is a documentary (directed by Kathy High with Cynthia White) about death and decay, and eco-friendly or ‘natural earth’ burials. This video was shot in Western Australia and follows the collaboration of a young fashion designer/artist and funeral celebrant, Pia Interlandi, and a forensic scientist, Ian Dadour. An experimental research project was created between them, allowing Pia to test out her fashion-for-the-dead and Ian, an entomologist who studies human homicide, to research clothing decay on dead (animal) victims. “Death Down Under” looks at ideas of green burials and the ecology of death.

Every performance is a conversation. I focus my interaction with ingredients I am about to use. When I design a dish that has a new ingredient, I want to know everything about it! This time, Kathy High and I wanted a vegan feast. I learned a lot from sites like Peta, that has a section on baking ( I did not know about the different sugar processing methods and what was vegan sugar. According to, “Over half of the cane refineries in the United States use bone char (charcoal made from animal bones) as their activated carbon source.”  Hope everyone enjoyed their treats prepared with
Produce from Capital District Community Gardens.


First Layer: Vegan Chocolate Coconut Pudding
1 can coconut milk (1 1/2 cups)
32 ounces soy milk
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup of certified vegan sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp espresso or very strong coffee
pinch of hot pepper optional
Heat up all 6 first ingredients. Cook 1-3 minutes. Stir in vanilla and coffee.
Pass through a sieve to avoid lumps before pouring into serving dishes. Chill before serving.
Second Layer: Vegan Brownies
1/2 cup Earth balance vegan buttery sticks
2/3 cup water
2 cups of certified vegan sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Mix all dry ingredients and set aside.
Mix 1/2 cup of flour with the water and cook to form a paste, let it cool.
Beat my hand: buttery sticks, sugars, vanilla and flour paste. Add the dry ingredients.
Bake on a 350 oven, on a 9×13 greased pan for 25 to 30 minutes
Makes 12 large squares or 48 mini bites.

Raw Beet Gazpacho

Yield: 1 gallon

Blend the beets and water. Strain the pulp. Put the juice back into the blender and working in batches, blend together the remainder of the ingredients. Chill for 4 hours. Serve with sour cream, lemon zest and fresh dill.


Cold Mango Ginger Soup
3 large green mangoes
1/2 onion
3 cups water
1 wax pepper, seeds and ribs removed
pinch of cayenne pepper or other chili to taste
1/2 cup of lime juice (about 3 limes)
4 tsp grated ginger
Salt to taste
3 tbsp of rum
Blend and Chill. Garnish with mint leaves and serve

cooking with CDCG produce

Cooking with Chefs Consortium using Capital District Community Gardens produce for Chip Fasciana Life and Death Gallery Show at Albany Center Gallery.
Thank you David Radovanovic for the photos!

Raw Beet Gazpacho
makes 10 cups

4 large beets
4 cups water
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup orange juice
2 cucumbers
1 large red onion
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch of chili pepper
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 red pepper
2 apples

salt to taste

Blend the beets and water. Strain the pulp. Put the juice back into the blender and working in batches, blend together the remainder of the ingredients. Chill for 4 hours. Serve with sour cream, lemon zest and fresh dill.

Interactive Spice Workshop

Mrs. Baines kindergarten class exams, smells, plays a game and makes a spicy tea mix during an Interactive Spice Workshop with Ellie Markovitch. Children crushed, pounded, and pestled spices and also tasted them in the form of a tea. No tea party is complete without cookies with spicy toppings. Thank you Susan Baines for the photos and her class for the lovely cards!

Spicy Tea Mix recipe:
rooibos tea
cinnamon stick
whole cloves
crystallized ginger

Sugar Cookies recipe:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl; set aside
Mix sugars, juice, eggs until well combined. Add flour mixture. Refrigerate cookies until firm and then make 1-inch ball cookies. on medium speed 30 seconds. Add butter; mix until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and then the lemon juice. Reduce speed; gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
Bake cookies until golden, about 8 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes.

When cool, sprinkle Garam masala spice, ground cinnamon or unsweet cocoa powder.