My heart is so full… This past Monday evening, on July 8, 2019, I had the privilege of facilitating my first ever community cooking demo at a library. The name of the event was called ‘A Taste of the Earth: A Plant Based Cooking Demo’. This all began back in the early spring, as one of the very kind librarians of the Bruton Memorial Library reached out to me, after seeing a recent article about my cooking in our local newspaper, known as The Plant City Observer. The library had begun the process of planning for their adult summer programming, and liked the blogging content that I was creating, and was interested in seeing if I would like to facilitate a cooking demo, that utilized seasonal, local ingredients. I could not say no to that opportunity!
Me doing a presentation on the benefits of eating locally & seasonally to a crowd of 40+ attendees
And I must say, that the cooking demo was truly a success! I spent the first portion of the evening discussing the benefits of supporting local, seasonal food. The second portion of the event consisted of me instructing attendees on how to prepare two delicious meals that utilized seasonal, Florida produce: One dish was my famous Mango Stir-fry, and the second dish was a refreshing Watermelon nice-cream (check out each of those two hyperlinks, which go directly to both recipes).
My yummy Mango Stir-fry
Thanks so much to everyone who came out to support tonight’s seasonal plant-based cooking demo at the Bruton Memorial Library, located in downtown Plant City, Florida. I want to thank all of the incredible librarians that made this happen, and the rest of my rad community. I couldn’t have done this without any of you!! I appreciate you all so much, and hope everyone had a wonderful time!
This wonderful event had a couple takeaways:
1. There is a giant demand for community members who want to eat fresh, seasonal & healthy food.
2. Community is everything. Everyone came together to help me serve food, and break down, post- event-and that in itself means everything.
3. Despite all of the technology we have at our fingertips, nothing beats hands-on learning!
For beginning The Funky Spork back in December of 2018, it’s fair to say that I’m still a newbie when it comes to my blogging (via this platform). NEVER would I have thought that my love for Instagramming my quirky recipes would somehow develop into my own business, where I now facilitate healthy cooking demos for the community! Even though my business is currently my ‘side hustle’, I’m excited to see how my passion for cooking and creating yummy food art evolves over the course of time. What a blessing this adventure and journey has been. 🙂
Me and my friend Jennifer Steed, Co-founder of Steed Farms, a local Plant City-based Community Supported Agricultural System (CSA)
Looking for something fun to do this summer? Why not consider going local! Eating locally and seasonally is one of the best things that we can do for our environment, our local economy, and our health. Join me for an interactive evening based around learning about the benefits of eating seasonally, locally and plant-based, while getting to learn how to prepare a delicious healthy meal made with locally-grown produce. Bring your appetites, family, and your friends!
These delicious morsels will be the star of your next party!
One night, I had some friends over for a small house party, and I had EVERY intention of making vegetarian empanadas for the occasion! I had my yummy filling made and had my dough prepared. I was ready to create some magic! Well, have you ever had something completely planned out, to then find out that that said plan did NOT go your way? Yep-that’s what happened to me.
Deliciously savory empa-rose filling!
I began filling each piece of dough with the filling, and found that the dough could not fold in the shape of an empanada. In fact, the dough was beginning to crumble apart! I allowed myself to freak out for two seconds. Then, being the creative out-of-the-box person I am, I was determined to figure out how to stuff my empanadas in a way without having them crumble. After a couple minutes, I looked at the filling and my dough, and thought to myself: ‘What if I folded the filling into the dough by rolling it into a pinwheel shape?‘ And you know what? It worked out beautifully! I took the filling, and gently wrapped the dough around the filling mixture, and found that the pastry resembled a rose. That’s how I deemed these babies as empa-roses! Not only did my beautiful savory pastry roses look pretty (after making them the second time), but they were incredibly delicious. These babies were also a huge hit with my guests!
Empa-roses are a GREAT & versatile dish to make: You can make them for your next party, or for your next Tuesday night supper. The options are really endless!
·Be gentle when rolling the roses, as your dough may fall apart if you over-stuff.
·I highly recommend not scooping more than two tablespoons TOPS (one heaping tablespoon per pastry should really do!)
·Muffin or cupcake tins will be your best friend.
·You DON’T have to use crescent roll dough-you can sub that for any other type of dough.
·The filling can really be whatever you’d like! These can even serve as a sweet dessert!
Here’s my recipe!
·One 8oz. can crescent roll dough
·1 medium bell pepper
·1 cup fresh spinach
·1 small onion
·8 oz. packet baby portabella mushrooms
·3 cloves garlic, minced
·2 tbsp. tomato paste
·2 tbsp. cumin or 2 tbsp. of favorite taco seasoning
·2 tbsp. cooking oil
·¼ tsp. salt
·1 egg or 1-2 tbsp. melted coconut oil (if vegan)
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven is preheating, gently open the crescent roll dough can and separate the crescent roll dough pieces into the pre-cut triangles, and lay them out on parchment paper, or on a lightly floured surface. Set aside.
2.Dice the onion, bell pepper, and portabella mushrooms into cubes roughly about the size of an inch. Set aside.
3.In a skillet, heat to medium high, and place cooking oil to let warm up for about 20-30 seconds. Gradually add the garlic, onion, bell pepper, and mushroom. Cover and let the veggie mixture sauté for about 7-10 minutes, or until the veggies lightly caramelize. Make sure to keep an eye on the veggies and stir frequently (about every two minutes).
4.During the last two minutes of the veggies sautéing, add the spinach mixture and immediately cover and let it sit, until the spinach begins to wilt. Gradually stir in the spinach with the rest of veggie mixture.
5.After the veggies have been mixed, gradually add in the tomato paste and cumin/taco seasoning and salt, until everything is well combined. Remove the mixture from heat and let it cool off for about 5 minutes, or until it is warm to the touch.
6.Assembling the Empa-roses!
a.Place about one tablespoon of filling into the center of each crescent roll triangle (it’s the fattest part of the triangle).
b.Gently use the bottom portion of the triangle to fold over the mixture.
c.Fold the right corner over the mixture.
d.Once both the bottom and right triangle corner of the dough has been folded over the filling, gently take the longest corner and fold it over the dough, and wrap the dough around until the shape resembled something like a rose (or pinwheel/ roll).
e.Delicately place each rose into an ungreased muffin tin hole. Repeat steps a-e for each empa-rose.
f.(Vegetarian step-if vegan, go to step g)Take your egg scramble into a bowl. Then brush that mixture over each of the empa-rose.
g.(Vegan step) Take your melted coconut oil and brush it over each rose.
h.Place your roses in the center rack of your oven and bake the pastries for about 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
#TBT to when my fiance and I purchased all of this beautiful produce for under $33 this past Sunday!!! Had we gotten this from a traditional grocery store, the price would have been at least double. We are fortunate enough to live in a small town agricultural community and live relatively close to a local produce stand. If you are ever looking to stock up on AFFORDABLE FRESH produce, you can:
1. Google or ask around to find our where the nearest produce stands may be.
2. Purchase produce WHOLESALE! There are wholesale stores which specialize in bulk produce for restaurants. Many, are open to the public.
3. Take advantage of your towns local farmers markets. Often times its locally sourced. You’ll be surprised how affordable the goods may be!
4. Eat seasonally: there are plenty of online regional resources which can let you know what fruits & veggies are in season year-round
5. Purchase frozen! Frozen produce is picked fresh and at its peak.
6. Grow your own, or join a community garden!
7. Learn how to forage! There are many regional resources which can teach you how to forage and what to look for when doing so. It can also equip you with some rad survival skills 😉
8. Go freegan and dumpster dive- although I will offer this advice with LOTS of caution! It’s a great solution to preventing food waste. However, doing so is not for the faint of heart, and I highly recommend you do research on this. Because you could get sick if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Do you have any other tips on how to obtain affordable produce?? Comment below!
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