"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'
Today's featured guest for Friday's, Feasting with Friends is my dear friend and fellow Babywearing International of Cleveland educator, Wendy Haas. I have been attending meetings and then teaching with Wendy for what feels like ages and I love being able to share that part of my life with her. There is a special bonding that comes with helping caregivers to wear their babies. I'll never forget the meeting that we were co-teaching, and chitchatting a bit while setting up. We discovered that we were both Art Historians- not a profession that you encounter very often! It is so fun to find your people in the least expected places. I worked at Harvard University Art Museums in Cambridge, MA directly out of college. It was an amazing experience and one that very much formed me into who I am today. But holy cow, that was TWELVE years ago. It feels like a lifetime with so much that has happened in those 12 years- marriage, three children, moved 4 times, bought two houses, became a Stay at Home Mom; big life changes that make life pre-kids and marriage almost seem like a distant dream. So having the opportunity to reconnect to that part of myself again through Wendy is a breath of fresh air. She is a wonderful conversationalist- be it art, music, politics, kid's, LIFE, it's good meaningful stuff. We went on a road trip together this summer to the International Babywearing Conference in Atlanta, GA and those many hours in the car flew by filled with wonderful conversations. That's what road trips are made of! Wendy has the loveliest little girls, they are such a delight, plus a sweet husband completing their little family. She is a kindred spirit and I am pleased to introduce you all to her. Enjoy.
What is your occupation?
Professor of art history
What is your favorite thing to cook?
How about your least favorite thing to cook?
Anything time-consuming. I don’t MIND cooking, but I don’t really love it, either. I want the things I make to be healthy, tasty, and EASY.
What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
Mustard Seed has great vegan options for us (also, Melt and Aladin’s)! We’d love to spend more time exploring the near West side and Tremont, trying places like Cleveland Vegan and Helio Terra Vegan Cafe.
Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
Beatles, probably because it’s the only request my children make! Depending on the mood, I’d choose Paul Simon’s Graceland or Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Areoplane Over the Sea, for myself, because they pair well with everything.
What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
Gnocchi? Not something I want to contemplate!
What are you currently reading?
Oh, Crap! Potty Training is on the list for the holidays, but I’d really like to finish Justin Cronin’s City of Mirrors first! After that, I just got Confronting Racism in the Arts, which I hope will give me plenty of food for thought going into the spring semester.
What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
No contest! Immersion blender!
Do you have a signature go-to dish?
I make a mean vegan spinach artichoke dip!
What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
Low cost of living, excellent park system, world-class arts and culture...! There’s so much to love about living here.
Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
Nope! I was a pretty picky eater and my parents, while good cooks, tended to prepare pretty generic fare most of the time. Since going vegetarian in college and vegan a few years ago, almost all the recipes I use are new to me and my family.
Top 3 Movies of all time?
Star Wars, Indiana Jones (I’m partial to Temple of Doom, but love them all), Romancing the Stone
What was your happiest moment in life?
Hard to pinpoint. I loved traveling alone, and found the freedom intoxicating! Seeing monuments and museums I’d only ever studied was powerful and deeply moving. But I also look fondly back on the first few weeks of my kids’ lives, the haze and fog of new love, and think that’s really what it’s all about.
Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Mostly Costco and Giant Eagle. Some vegan ingredients are easier to come by at specialty stores; our local one is Krieger’s.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Peanut butter, I think. I eat it straight from the jar and get annoyed when my husband or anyone else uses it, even for the kids. They have their own!
Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
Not really. We’re always working toward more efficient meal-planning, and wasting less food. That last one may be nearly impossible with toddlers, but we can certainly be better at batch cooking and freezing things!
One word that best describes you is:
And now for your favorite recipe:
Fried Rice with Tofu and Veggies
Adapted from 15-Minute Vegetarian
1 c. veggie broth (I use one bouillon cube dissolved in hot water for extra flavor)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. oil (I use canola)
Minced garlic at your discretion (I probably use a tablespoon or more!)
1 tsp. Ground ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Stir-fry veggies (I use about a pound or a pound and a half of a frozen mix that includes onion, peppers, water chestnuts, baby corn, green beans, broccoli, etc.)
1 package of firm or extra-firm tofu, cubed (I usually press it for a half hour to an hour before cubing)
3-4 c. cooked rice (I tend to use brown rice, but recently tried this with cauliflower pearls and it was okay, too!)
- Stir together broth, soy sauce, canola oil, ginger, garlic, and cayenne.
- Heat a wok over medium-high heat for a minute or so, then pour in about a third of the broth mixture and add the veggies.
- Stir-fry for a few minutes (usually 4-6) until soft.
- Add the tofu and another third of the broth mixture. Stir-fry for another few minutes.
- Add the rice (or cauliflower!) and the remainder of the broth mixture. Stir and toss until heated through (about 3-4 minutes).