Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chef Goes Green

From the TASTE section of today's Indianapolis Star:

Good greens
Nutritious collards, kale and chard are best when cooked quickly, gently
By Jolene Ketzenberger

February 27, 2008

With spring still weeks away, the bright hues of classic greens can provide an appealing splash of color for winter-weary cooks. Plus, they're good for you.

From curly-leafed kale to red-stalked Swiss chard to classic collards, winter greens can add nutrition to a wide variety of dishes, said chef Carl Conway, director of training at Second Helpings, a local food rescue organization that also provides a culinary education program.

But these aren't your grandma's greens. Don't let the overcooked collards of the past keep you from using these versatile, vitamin-packed ingredients.
"In the South, greens are overcooked," said Conway, a Mississippi native. "It's just Southern tradition."

That's due more to convenience than technique, said Conway: Many home cooks would simply set a pot to simmering while they went about other work. Unfortunately, such long cooking times can simmer the best stuff right out.
"Once the color is gone, so are the nutrients," said Conway. "All of the nutrition and most of the flavor."

He and his culinary students recently created flavorful recipes for braised greens with andouille sausage and a cheesy greens casserole. He particularly likes the braising method. "I think it's the best way to cook them," he said of the classic technique. His recipe involves stirring greens into sautéed sausage, onions and garlic, and then simmering them in broth until tender. "They taste best the less you do with them."

In developing the dishes for Taste, Conway first considered favorite family recipes, he said. "Braised greens are one of the staples of my family, and I used the andouille just because we're used to having spicy stuff with our greens."
He then looked to classic dishes, "things we do that naturally have greens in them," he said. He noted that the casserole filling also could be used in other dishes, such as quiche.

Both dishes also include a bit of nutmeg, which enhances the flavor of any dark green, he said.

Conway encourages culinary experimentation, noting that greens could be added to most dishes that call for spinach.

"Spinach is something everyone is more familiar with," he said, "but any recipe that has 'florentine' in it you can pretty much substitute mustard greens for spinach. Mustard also goes really good with seafood, like scampi."

Warming to the topic, he suggested using greens in a classic white bean and greens cassoulet, an Asian stir-fry or a roasted beet salad with a side of sautéed greens.

"Buy your beets with the greens and use both parts," he said. "Same thing with turnips." But the key, he said, is simply to avoid overcooking. "Just sauté them in a little bit of butter," he said. "Quick cooking methods work best."

And don't forget the nutmeg.

Chef Carl Conway, director of training at Second Helpings, offers these recipes to make great use of winter greens.

What goes well with winter greens? Pair them with some classic comfort foods, said chef Carl Conway of Second Helpings, like a potato gratin and buttermilk fried chicken. Here are a few of his favorites.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Galileo Galilei meets Attila the Hun, Charles Darwin, and Emily Dickinson for a lively evening of discussion at Steve Allen’s home in “Meeting of Minds.”

This family-friendly visit with these famous figures from history is a stage adaptation of the Steve Allen scripted popular public television series.
Performances are at the Freemason Hall Theater on May 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, & 18. The theater is located at 525 North Illinois Street, Indianapolis 46204. The play is produced by the Stage Actors Workshop.

Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 pm; and Sunday matinees begin at 2 pm. Tickets are $12 for adults; children 16 years old and younger will be admitted free with a paying adult. For reservations, information, or directions call 201-3436.

In the cast are Mary Hunt as the moderator, George Dokes as Charles Darwin, Glory June Greiff as Emily Dickinson, Tim Koponen as Galileo Galilei, and Carl Conway as Attila the Hun. World-conqueror Attila the Hun will face-off with Galileo and Darwin while the reclusive Emily Dickinson adds her thoughts.

The gathering of these historical figures is the brain-child of Steve Allen. The action of the play takes place at his home, in an informal setting.

What would these famous people say to each other if they met today? That is the clever premise of Mr. Allen’s family-friendly script, which had a successful run on PBS in the 1970s.

The Stage Actors' Workshop is a not-for-profit community theater acting company comprised of talented people who do theater for the love of it. Their mission is to bring to the public live stage shows that are entertaining and educational at a cost that will not break the family budget. Children 16 years-old and younger are always admitted free with a paying adult.

Bob Rini has served as the company’s artistic director since its inception in 1998. They offer affordable acting classes for adults and children. More information may be obtained by e-mailing them at

Who was Jesus REALLY?

There are three compelling arguments that Jesus was Black:

1. He called everyone brother
2. He liked Gospel
3. He didn't get a fair trial

But then there are three equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish:

1. He went into His Father's business
2. He lived at home until he was 33
3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin and his Mother was sure He was God

There are also three equally good arguments that Jesus was Italian:

1. He talked with His hands
2. He had wine with His meals
3. He used olive oil

Then again, there are three excellent arguments that Jesus was a Californian :

1. He never cut His hair
2. He walked around barefoot all the time
3. He started a new religion

But then there are three perfectly good reasons to argue that Jesus was an American Indian :

1. He was at peace with nature
2. He ate a lot of fish
3. He talked about the Great Spirit

Of course, there were three equally good arguments that Jesus was Irish:

1. He never got married.
2. He was always telling stories.
3. He loved green pastures.

But finally, we have the most compelling evidence of all, which proves that Jesus was probably a woman:

1. He fed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was virtually no food.
2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it.
3. And even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was still work to do.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Serving up Second Chances

BALTIMORE, Maryland (CNN) -- "Heroin, cocaine, alcohol...whatever was on the table, I wanted it," recalls Baltimore native Tyrone Lewis, who struggled with drug addiction for most of his life.

His addictions made it impossible for him to hold a job very long. For a time, he was homeless.
"After a while you just feel ... alone," says Lewis. "That made me want to give up. "

But that all changed when he met Galen Sampson, a five-star chef who offered Lewis the chance to join Chefs in the Making, a culinary training program that offers jobs and education to people who've been homeless, or have struggled with addiction. For Lewis, it was the chance of a lifetime.

"He was offering me a free education," Lewis says. "What he was doing gave me hope."
For many years, hope has been in short supply in parts of Baltimore. While some areas have been revitalized, much of the city is plagued by crime, poverty and drugs. According to the Census Bureau, nearly 23 percent of residents live below the poverty line and the city has an estimated 60,000 addicts.

As a chef at one of Baltimore's elite hotels, Sampson often saw his employees struggling with these problems in their own families. When he met his wife, Bridget, a writer who ran literacy programs in the city, he got involved with her work and wanted to do more. "I was a chef; that's what I was good at," Sampson recalls. "How could I apply what I did to help?"

Sampson had always dreamed of having his own restaurant. So in 2005, he and Bridget decided to create a socially responsible business that could address some of Baltimore's problems. They decided that part of their restaurant would be a training program, and Chefs in the Making was born.

In many respects, Chefs in the Making is run like any other culinary school. Apprentices take classes four hours a week and the rest of the time, they work at The Dogwood, Sampson's restaurant, which also includes a deli and catering business. Students not only earn a living and learn a trade, but they also build a job history.

The program has partnered with other programs to give apprentices additional support; there's even a counselor on staff who meets with them every couple of weeks. For Tyrone Lewis, the restaurant itself is a refuge.

"Here there are no secrets," Lewis says. "Most of us just know we are people who are trying to get our lives back together. "

Sampson admits this unorthodox approach had its skeptics. "A lot of people think we're crazy. We've pretty much put everything that we have into this project," he says. But for Sampson, it's well worth the risk. "To see what our apprentices have been able to do here has been very rewarding. I think we're setting the foundation for something good," he says.

In 2008, Chefs in the Making intends to provide training/jobs to more than 30 people. Apprentices make up about 25 percent of the restaurant staff and Lewis' own situation suggests what potential the program has to change lives. "Ten years from now, I see myself owning a home, maybe owning my own business," he says.

It's a future that he wouldn't have dreamed was possible before meeting Sampson. "A lot of people say they want to help," says Lewis. "Galen actually makes a difference."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Do It Anyway

This poem is engraved on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta. It was written by Kent M. Keith, who at the time, was a 19 year-old young man from Indiana. How Mother Teresa came upon the poem is still unknown, even to the author.


People are often unreasonable,
illogical and self-centered;
forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and true enemies;
succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
be honest anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Pay What You Think It's Worth" Scheme Pays Off In Germany

Ernest Gill, dpa Hamburg

The latest trend in the European restaurant business is the pay-whatever-you-think-it's-worth gimmick, and enterprising eateries in Germany say it pays off big time.

Taking a tip from the rock group Radiohead, which offered its latest album via the Internet for whatever buyers were willing to pay, restaurant owners in Germany say the idea of letting customers decide how much their dinner is worth to them is great for business.

Until a few weeks ago an Iranian ethnic restaurant called Kish in Frankfurt was empty most nights. Then owner Pourya Feily posted a sign out front saying "Pay What You Want" for entrees. Beverage prices are fixed, but everything else is up for grabs.

"Now we're full every evening and the amazing thing is that people are quite reasonable in paying a fair price," says Feily. He concedes that the patrons tend to pay less than the fixed prices he used to charge. But the difference is made up in the increase in trade.

"People pay about 6.95 or 7.95 euros (10 or 11.80 dollars) for an entree, which is quite acceptable," he told RTL Television.

He and Radiohead are not the only ones. Across Germany, wine bars, hotels, hairstylists, gourmet food shops and even some cinemas have taken up the "Pay Whatever You Want" slogan.

"Admittedly, it's a gimmick," Frankfurt marketing analyst Martin Natter told RTL. "Everyone knows it's a come-on. But it's a way of making customers feel they are in control. And it offers them a chance to be gracious and to feel they aren't being ripped off, but rather that they are doing their favourite restaurant or pub or hairstylist a service. Customers like to feel needed and appreciated."

The Iranian restaurant in Frankfurt has made headlines nationwide, and television news crews jostle with customers to report on the phenomenon.

"We could never have paid for such publicity in a million years," says Feily. "At lunch we used to close early due to lack of customers. Now we have up to 150 people, and we can only seat 90, so people have to wait. And that's just for lunch."

If nobody is required to pay a cent, then why do people still pay about what they would pay anyway?

"Basically, people are honest," he says. "They know what their lunch is worth and they are willing to pay that. Most people wouldn't want to cheat anybody any more than they would want to be cheated themselves. And because they set the price themselves, they feel it's a bargain, even if it is just as much as they would have paid anyway."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Congratulations To Class #48!!

Class #48 of the Second Helpings Culinary Job Training Program graduated on Friday, February 15, 2008. CONGRATULATIONS to the graduates!

Pictured above (front row, left to right) Robert Lawless, Courtney Walls, Kenneth Cannon, Stacy Beaty, Angeleka Davis. (back row) Chef Conway, Sergio Rojas, Brian Caldwell, Kevin Taylor, Edward Primm, Teddie Jones, and Sean Jones

Thursday, February 14, 2008

For Valentine's Day

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY? (written by kids)

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
-- Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
-- Kristen, age 10


Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
-- Camille, age 10


You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
-- Derrick, age 8


Both don't want any more kids.
-- Lori, age 8


Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
--Lynnette, age 8 (isn't she a treasure)

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
-- Martin, age 10


I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.
-- Craig, age 9


When they're rich.
-- Pam, age 7

The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
- - Curt, age 7

The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
-- Howard, age 8


It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
-- Anita, age 9


There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
- - Kelvin, age 8

And the #1 Favorite is........


Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.

-- Ricky, age 10

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Student Chefs Dig Into Their Field

Marty Meitus, Rocky Mountain News

Joan Brett has no interest in buying raspberries out of season. The cost is too high - and she's not talking about the price at the store. She's referring to the environmental impact of bringing in those berries from places like Chile.

"The fact that we're screwing up our planet, I don't need those raspberries," she says. "It's only six to eight months of the year (when you don't have them) and it makes them special."

Brett is doing more than paying lip service to the cause. Owner of the Culinary School of the Rockies in Boulder, she has added what may be the first outside-the-classroom program to incorporate the concept of farm-to-table training for would-be chefs. Students will spend five weeks outside the classroom, first in the North Fork Valley, then working at Leroux Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast and Winery near Hotchkiss, then going to Sustainable Settings, a 250-acre nonprofit center and ranch in Carbondale that teaches sustainability.

When Brett took an exploratory trip to the North Fork Valley, "I was met with such excitement and enthusiasm about moving the farmers' vision into the restaurants."

Students will help with winemaking, cheesemaking, learning about soil and composting, harvesting and preparing menus from what they've gathered.

"We're a cooking school, not a farming school, but the experience is going to make these students aware of where the food comes from. (They'll gain) an in-depth knowledge of soil and what it takes to put those ingredients on the plate."

Back in Boulder County, they'll "get steeped in where food comes from" at various farms, with a community dinner at the end. Brett says the program will have lasting benefits.

"It's multilayered because it's going to affect consumers and the community, and I think these students will wind up being ambassadors for dealing respectfully with food."

The local push helps farmers who at one time might have had to abandon their livelihood because they weren't able to produce enough for the wholesale market. But, she says, "by selling to restaurants and the public, a lot of them have turned around."

Not so many years ago, "eating local" meant heading out for McDonald's up the street. But now consumers are tuning in. "It's not going to be overnight, but it's exciting to be part of it."

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

From Today's Correspondence...

Subject: How My Day Started

I rear-ended a car this morning and we both pulled over.

So there we are alongside the road and slowly the other driver gets out of his car ... and you know how you just get sooo stressed and life-stuff seems to get funny?

Yeah, well, I could NOT believe it . . he was a DWARF!

He storms over to my car, looks up at me and says, "I AM NOT HAPPY!"

So, I look down at him and ask, "Well, which one are you then?"

... and that's when the fight started!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Black Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade

This simple, but delicious, recipe makes enough to serve 12 people as an appetizer or dip with crackers, chips, or crudité.

3 cups of pitted medium black olives, drained
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
¼ cup Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

In the bowl of a food processor, add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and the olive oil it was packed in.
Pulse until combuined, but still chunky.
Add more extra-virgin olive oil if mixture is too dry.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and spoon into a serving bowl.
If not serving immediately, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days.