There is much to be said and appreciated about a cookbook which is stained with use. The adventures of the favorite recipes continue from one generation to the next with splotches and smears of ingredients. I have a collection of cookbooks from my family, as well as many others, which have charmed me over the years with their dog-eared pages.
With the computer revolution, things have changed. A new generation stores many of their books and recipes on their hard-drives, not their shelves. Tens of thousands of recipes can be found online with the click of a mouse. I have a Twitter Feed which allows me to share vegan recipes from the world-wide-web with my followers on a daily basis.
Many individual online recipes stand alone, without connection to their cultural background or the inspirations which influenced the chefs who created them. It is different with an ebook, which is the entire book presented the way the author intended it. I now offer my cookbook, Vegetarian Traditions, in an Ebook edition allowing me to share the most popular dishes from Inn Season Cafe anywhere in the world. Some of the available formats are below.
One of the timeless Inn Season Cafe recipes was Carrot Cashew Soup–still a favorite at the Royal Oak, Michigan cafe. Warm root-vegetable soups in the winter can be a transcending experience, lifting us into a place of healing comfort.
My earliest memories of carrots are of my father helping me to grasp scraggly green tops jutting out of the ground and pulling them to discover the bright orange tuber. As a toddler, my father’s assistance was necessary, but I soon perfected the technique and all the carrots were harvested whether ready or not. This didn’t bother him at all; perhaps he sensed the budding of my life-long relationship to vegetables.
Carrots are quite versatile, but often under-rated. They can be eaten raw or juiced for a vitalizing drink. They can be used in salads, soups and desserts, in addition to adding sweetness and substance to a multitude of vegetable dishes. I even use pureed carrots as a base for salad dressings, sauces and in a number of dessert dishes, not the least of which is carrot cake.
Carrot Cashew Soup reveals the venerable carrot as an excellent base for a soup. When mixed with cashews and blended, it becomes a melt-in-your-mouth cream soup. Best of all–it is so easy to prepare!
Carrot Cashew Soup
3 cups carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red onions,chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dill weed, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup red bell peppers, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup raw cashews
5 cups water
1/2 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix all ingredients, except water and parsley. Transfer to a large casserole or roasting dish. Cover and bake for one hour. Allow to cool, add 1 cup water and puree in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a soup pot, add remaining 4 cups of water, stir, reheat and simmer for 10 minutes uncovered. Serve hot and top with a sprinkle of chopped parsley in each bowl.
Recipe from the cookbook: Vegetarian Traditions: Favorite Recipes From My Years At The Legendary Inn Season Cafe
By George Vutetakis
The first week of December was another whirlwind trip to Michigan for events, book signings and talks. It has been three years since my feet felt the cold pavement of a Detroit winter. I bit my lip and braced for the cold as I dashed into the Cacao Tree Cafe where I found warmth, refuge and good energy.
Former employee and friend, Amber Poupore, has recently begun her adventure as a restaurateur. Her emphasis is raw and vegan; the food was delicious and energizing.
My initial book-signing appearance was at the Birmingham Winter Markt, their first annual German-style holiday festival.
Cousin Don Hobson, farmer and market-master for the Birmingham Farmers Market, invited me to share a booth with him. His homemade jams and kettle corn were on one side and my books on the other.
When I suggested space heaters, he said he was country and wouldn’t need them. The morning following an evening of selling in the 19 degree cold, Cousin Don arrived with two space heaters under his arms. The Markt turned out to be a charming event in spite of the colder than usual weather. Stalwart and hardy Michiganders, inspired with Holiday spirit, flocked to the outdoor Markt. As twilight approached, the park became magical with the beautiful lights, music and good cheer.
The next day I left signed books with my son, Spyros, and headed to a book-signing at the warm and cozy Borders Bookstore, just a few blocks away. At both events, I saw many old friends and met new ones.
Monday morning started with an interview on the Craig Fahle show on the local NPR station, WDET. As I drove to the studio in Detroit, I marveled at the renewed energy in the area. I had a strong sense that people were not lying down and accepting their fate in these tough economic times. Nowhere was this more visible (and audible) than when I entered the studio of WDET. The positive energy they all seemed to have about Detroit was contagious–it felt as if I was participating in a grand experiment of urban renewal.
My next stop was Whole Foods Market in Troy. They sponsored my events, providing me with the food I needed to teach my classes and gave me brochures for the inspiring healthy-food program created by Dr. Joel Furhman.
Tuesday was lunch with Halim and Lamia of Oasis Mart in Royal Oak. We have been business associates and friends since Inn Season Cafe opened in 1981. Lamia is a fantastic cook–a real neighborhood treasure. She served a delicious crushed lentil soup, biryani rice, majdara, hummus, babaghanoush, lentil salad and baklava. They invited friends and customers to come by for a meet and greet. It was a joyous affair with great food and company.
In the evening, at the Wayne County Community College (WCCC), 76 people showed up for my cooking demonstration and talk about vegetarian food for the holidays.
I taught the enthusiastic crowd how to make Quinoa-Corn Arepas and Cranberry Chocolate Salsa with Toasted Pepita and Fire-Roasted Poblano Chile Pesto.
Inn Season Cafe provided Cashew Vegetable Chili and their house bread. The food and book were big hits and we discussed a repeat in the Spring.
The next afternoon was spent in Grosse Pointe at the TV5 studio in the War Memorial, a grand old estate built by Russell Alger Jr. Robert Taylor and his wife, Pamela Hill Taylor, hosted me on their show Out of the Ordinary and into the Extraordinary. It gave me a chance to talk about the hard-working farmers and bountiful farmers markets in Michigan, as well as the impact they have on the community. We discussed how to enjoy the holidays while making healthy food choices and where to start with those New Years resolutions. The fun and informative show is now available in eight Michigan counties in the public access area of ATT and Comcast cable services.
Wednesday evening was the sold-out event Food is Medicine at the Wellness Training Institute with cardiologist Dr. Michael Dangovian.
We took turns discussing how food is not only the key to nourishing the body, but also one of the key factors for reducing stress in life.
In addition to demonstrating the same dishes from WCCC, I also prepared the Shiitake Mushroom Saute recipe from my book. Inn Season Cafe provided Budapest Mushroom Soup and their house bread as well as a delicious Bengali Rice Salad.
We’re already planning our next event for March 30, 2011. If you are interested, please contact the Wellness Training Institute.
Overall, my Michigan visit was personally very satisfying as I saw progress in the food/health ideals that I worked for during my restaurant years.
Inn Season Cafe is thriving, The Cacao Tree is just simply amazing and the Wellness Training Institute represents the future of medicine. I’m gratified to be part of this movement in Detroit.
Vegetarian Traditions Cookbook
Holiday Price this week!
All books purchased here are signed by the author!
Expedited shipping available
–up until December 23rd.
The first thing I did after picking up my rental vehicle was load 1200 pounds of books from the shipping terminal into the car. Good thing the Chevrolet Traverse had substantial shock-absorbers! It was hot and humid and after that workout, I was eager to get to the hotel.
Friday: A meeting with Dr. Michael Dangovian of the Wellness Training Institute kicked off the day. We discussed my participation at Saturday’s celebration of the first anniversary of his institute. We see this event as the first step in a Food as Medicine program.
Later that day, I made my way to Stephan Brink’s Health Oasis in Royal Oak to teach the art of spicing, namely, how to make masala.
The class was a benefit for the local chapter of Women For Women, a group which helps women deal with health and social crisis situations. It was held outdoors in a courtyard; the balmy Michigan evening added to the intimacy and culinary magic.
Masalas are provocative spice mixtures which are the basis for Indian cuisine. I demonstrated, to the twenty or so attendees, how to toast, grind and mix three masalas and provided spicing techniques for making a large variety of Indian dishes with the authentic flavors achieved only through the freshly ground spices. The intoxicating scents of toasting urad dal, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and a multitude of other whole spices wafted through the quiet neighborhood.
Inn Season Cafe provided a delicious Bengali Rice Salad which satiated the wetted appetites. Most of the guests took my cookbook home with them.
Saturday: At 7:30am I arrived at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, the bustling 81 year-old indoor market. Don, Donna and Anthony Cinzori welcomed me as if I were long lost family. They have one of the largest certified organic farms in Michigan and tirelessly provide some of the best produce I have seen anywhere. The Cinzori family is warm, generous and knowledgeable. I always look forward to discussing the latest in produce and organic trends with Don.
There wasn’t much time for that this day. The market started to buzz and customers hummed around the colorful Cinzori stall like bees looking for sweet nectar. The market is like a second home and I was able to speak with one person after another about the cookbook and the Don’s produce, which had inspired many of the recipes.
At about one o’clock, my son Spyros and I headed over to the Wellness Training Institute in Sterling Heights. Dr. Michael Dangovian was celebrating the first anniversary of his new clinic and I was honored to be the featured speaker. Over two-hundred people attended the event which included food from Inn Season Cafe, talks by Dr. Dangovian and various teachers who participate in his program of integrative medicine and preventative cardiology.
My lecture was organized around the importance of connecting the dots with your food–knowing where it comes from and supporting your local farmers. I also spoke about food and community, food being not only the primary nourishing element in life, but the primary nurturing element. All the great food cultures of the world weave food into the daily fabric of life and see it as a measure of life’s quality. Without it, there is no benefit to longevity.
Most of the questions fielded were about specific ingredients I recommended and the health benefits they provide. The afternoon was a success and as a result, Dr. Dangovian and I are planning future events with targeted information for attendees to gain specific tools they can apply toward a healthier life. This was just the beginning and we are excited by the possibilities. If there is one thing I have missed about running the restaurant, it was seeing the fulfillment in the faces of our guests. This Saturday afternoon, I saw the same looks.
Sunday: I arrived early at the Birmingham Farmers Market, an empty parking lot with a few tents going up. As I set up my booth, the market began to take shape; trucks pulled up with bushels of fresh corn, potatoes, zucchinis, pumpkins and fresh flowers. A number of organic farmers came together on the south side of the lot with their splendid hand-picked vegetables.
Cousin Donny Hobson, the market master, is not just a farmer, he is a showman. This day he planned to attract shoppers with Hay-Day. Antique tractors, farm implements and bales of hay decorated the market with a festive county fair-like atmosphere.
Two of my favorite farms at the Birmingham market are Natures Pace Organics and Blue Water Organics. Natures Pace is family-operated with a core dedication to sustainable foods.
Each week there is something new at the market. I loved being in Michigan at the beginning of the harvest with the trees displaying the vivid colors of autumn.
Oh, be still my heart: Vegetable Almond Quesadilla, Portabella Romescu, Benares Rice Pudding and the cherry on top–Hazelnut Torte with Hot Fudge Sauce–and all recipes are dairy-free! If there is a heaven, it is inside the covers of this gorgeous, easy-to-follow cookbook of legendary recipes–Vegetarian Traditions. Or perhaps even more heavenly, a kitchen full of cooks preparing these delicious dishes for you and your guests, so that all you have to do is think dreamy thoughts and treat your palate to a party. Vegetarian Traditions makes a gorgeous present that will be enjoyed for a lifetime. I was mightily impressed and felt immediate food cravings!
~Ingrid Newkirk, PETA president and co-founder