Notes from the Kitchen

Cooking Matters San Francisco: Teaching Kids to Cook Real Food

As this year winds down for another year to commence, out come the goals that might get recycled each year with the regularity of abandoned pine trees on curbs the last week in December. Let’s face it, we look forward to new beginnings. When the clock completes the circle toward midnight on New Year’s Eve, a page is filled and turned so we may begin jotting on a new one.

Cooking matters. In 2013, I had the privilege of teaching 12 San Francisco children some cooking skills in the kitchen with 18 Reasons and am already conspiring when I will get to do it again in 2014. Jamie Oliver has become synonymous with taking the real food revolution to new levels, especially with getting children in the U.S. excited about real food. I am sending them a gigantic thank you for the work he and his team are doing to create a groundswell in the real food movement and also for the opportunity to  share on his blog why cooking matters in San Francisco. Please pop over there to read about the experience and share a comment about why real food and cooking matters to you.


Food, poetry and art will be coming soon to your inbox. The previous sentence would have ended with an exclamation mark if I hadn’t already used up my allowance for the year. If you peruse The Food Poet regularly, consider signing up for sporadic updates with subscriber only recipes, city travel guides and book reviews. I promise not to bombard your inbox, but plan on keeping a few choice nuggets for newsletter subscribers to mix things up a bit on a quarterly basis. Also, if there is anything you would like to see more of, leave a comment below and we can see about finagling it into the newsletter.


Hunger in America: Have You Ever Gone Hungry?

Did you know that 16 million children live in households that struggle to put food on the table?

Put another way, that’s 1 in 5 kids.

It’s absurd isn’t it? The number confounds with its profundity. It feels so big as to be out of reach.

It requires a groundswell of people involved to make their voices heard, to shout if necessary, to keep eyes open for the invisible hungry in our midst and see how we can be the change in our communities and by urging our senators to hear us and reverse this disturbing trend through legislation and programming. It needs all of us to get involved and share our strengths to end hunger in America.



Food Bloggers Against Hunger
Today’s kind of a special day. My friend Nicole Gulotta, who you may remember a few weeks ago, contributed a guest post for Sesame Crackers with Smoked Salmon and Chive Creme Fraiche along with the food poem that inspired the recipe has done something kind of wonderfully grassroots. It’s even gotten the attention of the New York Times. Over 100 food bloggers today are dedicating their blog post and recipe to talk about hunger and how together we can make a difference and bring hunger to the forefront of peoples’ minds. After all, have you ever gone hungry? Have you ever questioned where and when you would find your next meal? This intrinsic need isn’t something a lot of us have to think about. I hate wasting food and yet find myself guilty time and again. Addressing and curing hunger is not about pointing fingers, but about finding sustainable solutions.

Share our Strength / No Kid Hungry
The past five years, I have volunteered with No Kid Hungry, a national non-profit with the belief that if each of us shares our strength, together we can eradicate hunger among America’s children. Working with them, I have advocated as a sponsor for their Taste of the Nation San Francisco program, helped lead the marketing initiative for Taste of the Nation and finally gotten into the kitchen, teaching cooking classes as part of their Cooking Matters classes, teaching nutrition and cooking to kids in low income communities. Hunger is something I have seen firsthand, working at the Living Room, a homeless street-kid drop-in for three years. It is something I hear about through the hunger cycle of community plays in Cornerstone Theater’s current run of Lunch Lady Courage in L.A.

What Can I Do?
This is a question I ask myself often. The enormity of the problem makes me creative to find ways I can help. Here’s the good news, you can dive in and help too.

Hunger in America- A Place at the Table

  • PARTICIPATE IN YOUR OWN HUNGER CHALLENGE: Subsist on the California daily SNAP budget of $4.72 per person for a week. Write about it. Share your experiences with others. And if you decide to go this route, let me know so I can cheer you on!

The Hunger Challenge
Two years ago, the San Francisco Food Bank invited local food bloggers to live for a week on a SNAP budget and blog about their experiences. My husband and I took their hunger challenge, made more challenging in that we were trying to do it gluten-free. If I was to attempt it again, I would also put an added challenge of making it GMO-free. What we found through our experience is that it is doable to live off of $4.72 per person per day on a SNAP budget, but requires a helluva lot of planning, prep and cooking that a mother working two to three jobs to pay rent may not easily be able to master.

Hunger in America: Assembling Your Hunger Challenge Provisions DAY 1: Time and Shopping List
Hunger in America: Lemon Pepper Tuna with Apple SlawDAY 2: Lemon Pepper Tuna with Apple Broccoli Slaw
Spinach Quiche CupsDAY 3: Cravings and Spinach Quiche Cups
Hummus Veggie TostadasDAY 4: Support and Hummus Veggie Tostadas
Green Smoothies 
DAY 5: Fatigue and Green Smoothies
                                DAY 6: Getting By
Hunger in America: Black Refried Beans DAY 7: Take-Aways and Black “Refried” Beans


Sharing our Strength Spirit

THIS SATURDAY: SF Food Bloggers Bake Sale

2012 san francisco food blogger bake sale

Just in case you haven’t heard yet, tomorrow is kind of a big deal.

All around the country, home cooks and food bloggers will be hosting bake sales to benefit Share our Strength as part of the Great American Bake Sale. I remember my friend Nissa participated in a Brooklyn bake sale a few years ago and I found myself hankering to be a part of a bake sale in San Francisco. A few years ago, Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking helped organize an arm of the bake sale with food bloggers.

Share our Strength’s #NoKidHungry campaign is looking to eradicate childhood hunger in the United States by supporting local resources and also appealing at the legislative level. In the Bay Area alone, 1 in 5 children are at risk of hunger. This issue is one that is often not easily seen. As a San Franciscan and a food-passionate person, I think all kids should have a shot at developing their own taste memories. I’m a fan of Share our Strength and have volunteered with them for several years in different capacities. It’s a non-profit I feel strongly about and am looking forward to being a part of their local Cooking Matters program next month.

I’m particularly excited to join Anita, Irvin and Shauna again as an organizer for the San Francisco Food Bloggers Bake Sale. We will be convening on Omnivore Books from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., which means you can drop by Omnivore and attend the Alice Medrich talk from 3-4 p.m. and make sure to pick up some treats on your way out!

I’ve been playing in the kitchen with green tea and will be making up a batch of Green Tea Granola that’s also gluten free. Come pick up a jar on Saturday and look for the recipe here next week with photos of the bake sale.

If you’re gluten free, vegan or have food allergies, we will have a vast array of homebaked goods to choose from. So whether you’re jonesing for a loaf of bread, cupcakes, cookies, macarons, tarts or quickbread, we’ve got you covered.

Doing good never tasted so sweet.

green tea granola jars

SF Food Bloggers Bake Sale Bakers:

Anita from Dessert First

Stacie from The Flirty Blog

Namthip Paine

Mariel from OriginalCinn

Erika from honeynhero

Nichole from Mad Dough

Cristina from Bake for Change

Angela from A I Love Baking

Allison from Bake Your Heart Out

Katy from Dining with Dusty

Suzie from Suzie Sweet Tooth

Scott from In Scott’s Kitchen

Andrea “Kittie” from Chef Kittie

Angela from Pastry Angie

Ariel from Cake Sharing

Pei-Yee from Dulcinea Bakeshop

Stephanie from Desserts for Breakfast

Laura from She Eats Well

Penni Wisner

Eleanor from Kitchen Salt

Katie from I’d Have Baked a Cake

Faith from Click Blog Appetit

Patricia from The Pie Store


Rose from Magpies Recipes

Kellan from A la Tart

Shauna Sever

Irvin from Eat the Love

Sabrina from The Tomato Tart

Lisa from With Style and Grace

Charissa from Zest Gluten Free Bakery

Sharing our Strength Spirit

SF Food Blogger Bake Sale – April 28 at Kiehls

2012_SOS_Food Blogger Bake Sale

Who has time to volunteer?

I ask myself this question as I’m juggling a multitude of activities, commitments and trying to do the careful dance of not plunging into the depths of my inbox while staying current in correspondence. What’s interesting is seeing how volunteerism looks a bit different from the high school days. It’s been eons since I planted flowers at a senior nursing facility or played bingo at a community center. Even longer are the days of candy-striping at a children’s hospital or collecting tickets at a senior center.

In high school, they drilled into us the importance of volunteering, which worked to my benefit given that I a.) like people a whole lot and b.) really do want to make my patch of the earth a bit better for my having been in it.

No kid hungry.

This seems simple enough even for a non-parent like myself.  I get fired up on topics of real food access for all and it sometimes seems inconceivable that anyone in the Bay Area, let alone a child would be wanting for food.

We know this isn’t true.

Hunger in the United States is not something you detect easily by mere observation. It’s something that someone like me, ever in the hospitality and food industry wants to work to correct. I cherish feeding people and know that you can’t feed their minds properly if their stomachs are grumbling or empty.

If you’ve been reading La Vie en Route for a while, you will know I am a hearty advocate of national non-profit Share our Strength. Their No Kid Hungry mission extends into supporting local community resources and also to effect legislation in the government. I like that approach. Last year, at the SF Taste of the Nation event, the pre-eminent food gala fundraiser for SOS, I had a chance to meet representatives from some of these local community resources- people from Food Runners and Cooking Matters. Share our Strength underscores that each of us has a strength to share.

Cupcakes. Pies. Scones. Freshly baked bread. Cookies.

On Saturday, April 28th at Kiehl’s on Fillmore, from 11-4 p.m., these sweet treats will be on a mission to raise funds that go back to supporting local resources working to make sure no kid goes hungry in San Francisco. Irvin, Shauna, Anita and I are joining together again this year to organize the SF Food Bloggers Bake Sale after last year’s rollicking good time and success.

I am planning to bake up something extra special since last year’s contribution included Homemade Almond Joys that clinched me a grand prize ribbon in a church competition when I was a kiddo myself.

Join us and bring cash for cookies. You share your strength and I’ll  share mine.

DETAILS: Official SF Food Bloggers Bake Sale Website
WHERE: Kiehl’s, 1971 Fillmore Street, San Francisco 94115
WHEN: 11-4 p.m.

Sharing our Strength Spirit

SF Food Bloggers Bake Sale- this weekend!

SF Food Bloggers Bake Sale Badge

On a recent trip to Dallas, Texas, I was driving down the street when I saw a sight that made me smile. Two girls stood on a corner holding a handmade sign on poster board. They yelled at my passing car the words hand-written on that sign: “BAKE SALE!” Their sign indicated their bake sale was for a charitable cause. Getting involved at a young age to help make a difference in the world around them- these girls were getting a head start on what it means to live lives of generosity and with eyes wide open.

So consider this my handmade sign, though the lettering is done with pixels instead of marker. This Saturday, head on over to the Food Bloggers Bake Sale, taking place at 18 Reasons in the Mission and at Kiehls in Pacific Heights.

I have been organizing the Bake Sale with Anita, Irvin, and Shauna. We have enjoyed planning and putting together details to make this year’s Bake Sale a success! For a full list of the fabulous bakers participating, visit the Food Bloggers Bake Sale website.

All proceeds go to Share Our Strength, a national non-profit I’ve written about before with a mission for “no kid hungry.” Through them I have learned that last year 17 million children found themselves in food unstable households. This is an indicator to me that the recession has done much to touch the smallest members of families as well as those Americans who have lost their jobs.

Stop by the Bake Sale and see the mélange of baked goods, meet the food bloggers who baked them and pick up some goodies to share with your friends and families: brownies, cookies and cakes for a truly sweet cause!

Food Bloggers Bake Sale benefiting Share Our Strength

WHEN:            Saturday, May 14, 2011

WHERE:             18 Reasons at 593 Guerrero Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m  or Kiehls at 2360 Fillmore Street from noon to 6 p.m.

Sharing our Strength Spirit

Taste of the Nation San Francisco

I’m sure you’ve worked various odd jobs throughout your life.

My roster is pretty short but includes bookseller, librarian, and flower shop assistant to name a few. From a young age, I discerned myself to be a worker bee, someone who likes to get things done, not watch other people do them.

One thing stayed true to form: all roads eventually led back to food.

My first foodservice job involved me tagging along with my best friend Ashley. We would be outfitted in white aprons and floppy white hats selling pastries and croissants at a French cafe and restaurant. I enjoyed the fast pace of the patisserie section of the restaurant and could make a mean caesar salad. It’s no surprise that years later we both are still up to our elbows working with food.

I started working at a young age and learned the pleasure of being able to provide for myself. Mama worked hard and so did my Dad- their examples cast long shadows on what a full day is comprised of.  When they split, I began experimenting in the kitchen as often I would be the first one home, the veritable latchkey kid. Some of my cooking experiments early on were too … ahem… experimental while others worked out just fine. What I loved about working in foodservice was that sense of family outside of the nuclear one, of being hostess, server, salad-maker and developing deep relationships with co-workers as well as regulars. In a restaurant, I had an opportunity to welcome a complete stranger into an experience that I hoped would be one that might uplift them. Hospitality had been passed down from Tita down through her daughters and was instilled in me from a young age. I liked the variation of scenarios in a restaurant setting and then later at events, where I sometimes played a guessing game of what someone might order before they opened their mouths.

I happened upon a fantastic melding of my worlds a few years back through national non-profit, Share our Strength. Their Taste of the Nation event happens in numerous cities around the country, giving chefs the opportunity to do what they do best: cook, for a cause near and dear to so many of them, and for attendees to nosh and sip and enjoy themselves while being benefactors to the cause of eradicating hunger among children in the U.S. Childhood hunger in America- it sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? How does this wealthy country have children who go hungry? And yet 17 million kids were in hunger unstable homes last year. They are the unseen victims of the recession and rely upon the school breakfast and lunch programs more than ever before.

Several years ago, when I began working with Share our Strength (SOS), it gave me a chance to give back and do my small part to address this social problem. This year, I had an opportunity to work on the marketing side for Taste of the Nation San Francisco to help build awareness for the event and encourage people to attend by introducing them to some of the chefs that will be cooking and baking at Taste of the Nation. When a guest would sit in my section of the restaurant years ago, if I described the plat du jour with my own words, this would have a different effect than just reading them on the menu. And I took the same approach with getting the word out about Taste of the Nation.

If people interested in food, in this food-and-beverage-loving-city could hear from the chefs themselves what were the childhood food memories that stood out to them, they might want to buy a ticket so that kids in need could form their own childhood food memories. If they could hear what these well-reputed chefs had to say about Share our Strength, this might shed light on why this organization’s cause could be important to them too.

The event is this Thursday at the Bently Reserve at 7 p.m. and you can still buy a ticket here. Sure, there are other things to do on Thursday night. We live in San Francisco after all- there is always something else you could be doing. But being a part of “No Kid Hungry” is something that can’t wait. This is the next generation we’re talking about.

Hats off to all the brilliant chefs and mixologists volunteering their time, their talent to this important cause. But don’t take my word on why this cause is important- take theirs:

Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto

Chef Bridget Batson of Gitane

Chef Sophiane Benouada & Chef Michael Koenig of Grand Cafe

Chef Elizabeth Falkner of Orson and Citizen Cake

Chef David Bazirgan of Fifth Floor

Chef Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn

Chef Mark Sullivan of Spruce

Chef Armando Justo of Chotto

Chef Josh Thomsen of the Meritage at Claremont Resort & Spa

Sharing our Strength Spirit

San Francisco Food Blogger Bake Sale

We want you!

Calling all bakers and cookie makers.

All closet chefs and pastry chefs too,

Volunteers, come bake for a good cause.

Some incredible people are coming together and bringing their baking chops for a good cause. Last year, we raised around $1600 for Share our Strength and are enthused for this year’s event.

I’m excited to work with Anita, Irvin and Shauna in announcing this year’s San Francisco Food Blogger Bake Sale benefitting SOS on May 14th.

Visit for more information.
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