Last weekend I attended a three-day program called the Food + Enterprise summit. It’s an annual event in Brooklyn that serves to connect farmers, producers, and entrepreneurs with experts in the (figurative or literal) field who want to help fuse big-picture sustainability into food businesses. It culminated with a pitch competition—think Shark Tank, but more friendly—in which I presented my company Made by Lukas along with six other small business. I won! I probably blubbered on a little too excitedly and incoherently, but combined with all the great new colleagues and friends I made, the things I learned about food systems and sustainability, and the overwhelming good vibes throughout the weekend, it was just so damn cool.
As part of the pitch competition, I’m also launching a Barnraiser campaign in order to raise money to help Made by Lukas grow. Barnraiser is a crowdfunding platform similar to Kickstarter, but what makes it special is that they work only with food-related businesses, and in particular on “impact” ones that foster growth for a healthy world. There are a lot of amazing projects up there.
If you live outside the NYC-Metro area and haven’t yet been able to try Made by Lukas veggie burgers, the Barnraiser campaign is is your chance! I’ve got several different scales of rewards, from one veggie burger, to a three-flavor variety pack, to a “veggie burger of the month” offer, all at different price points and which will be shipped directly to you. I’m also offering signed copies of Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, the cookbook I wrote in 2010. And for big spenders in the NYC-area, you could have a catered vegetarian feast for yourself and three of your favorite people!
I’ve never done a gift guide before, mostly because I don’t think I have terrific taste and have never thought of myself as an especially good gift giver. But this year, I’ve introduced some fun new food things into my life. And having spent much of it shilling my Made by Lukas veggie burgers, I’ve also met lots of makers of unique, terrific stuff. It made sense to take a stab at a gift guide, geared to the people in your life who like food. Below are eight of items, some whackier than others.
(And if you want to skip the gifts and just scroll down to the recipe: Just before Thanksgiving, I shared a vegetarian and gluten-free holiday main dish on Charlotte Today, the morning show down in Charlotte where some of my family lives. It aired the day before Thanksgiving, so I doubt anyone had time to whip it up for their Thanksgiving spreads. I’m including the recipe here in preparation for upcoming holiday feasts [the recipe is at the end of the post]. Here’s the video.)
Do you have a bottle of mirin in the back of your fridge or cupboard? Do you remember what you bought it for? I used to forget about my mirin until a recipe like Heidi’s Black Sesame Otsu came along, and then afterward I’d let it get pushed back into the shadows all over again. Thank goodness it takes a very long time to go bad. But over the past year I’ve been reaching for it a bit more frequently and experimenting with it in some less obvious ways.
Last week at R&D Foods in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, I got a quesadilla that was just perfection. These types of assembled lunch meals can seem so simple—R&D has a creative, flavor-forward menu and is very mindful about ingredient sourcing, but the set-up is loosely based on the same model as a sandwich shop or deli, where all the sauces and fillings are prepped and pre-made, so that sandwiches only need to be assembled and heated up to order—but it’s so easy for things to go wrong.
When the ingredients are fresh, flavorful, and used in balance; when the sandwich (or in this case, quesadilla) is heated properly to create all the right crisp and gooey textures and isn’t flecked with the burnt bits of fifteen other meals that were cooked on the same sandwich press; and when it hasn’t been sitting in a paper bag for very long, so that when it’s unwrapped from the parchment and eaten out of hand on a park bench, in a patch of some of the last of the hot, early-afternoon sun for the year . . . In other words, when every little detail is exactly right, it can make a person pretty happy to be alive. Such was my Friday afternoon.
One chance, I thought. I only get one chance to call something a “Crack Fill-In-the-Blank,” so don’t waste the opportunity. The fact is, I didn’t know what else to name this salad. It’s just a really good tumble of leftovers and odds-and-ends that I served to friends earlier this summer. “That Crack Salad” is what my friend Lesley called it when she emailed me about it a few days later about it.
But “Crack Salad” really isn’t my style. Would “Just Really Good Salad” work? Or “Delicious Chopped-ish Salad of Leftovers and Odds and Ends”? Neither of those seem to get at the scrumptious, addictive quality of this unassuming list of ingredients. Maybe I should just be very literal about it, with “Chopped Cabbage, Lentil, and Arugula Salad with Fried Shallots, Radishes, Almonds, Feta and Shallot-Oil–Dijon Vinaigrette?” No? Too long? A little unwieldy? Fine. Crack Salad it is. Continue reading
For the past year and a half or so, I’ve been working to develop a prepared veggie burger (which is one reason I hope you’ll excuse my poor maintenance of this blog), and at long last, I’m pleased to announce that it is here. May I please introduce you to Made by Lukas Fresh Veggie Burgers!
These are a little different from most other prepared veggie burgers out there. First off, each package contains a pound of the veggie burger mix, so they’re “ready-to-shape”—you form them into patties, kid-friendly bites, or whatever you please. Second, they’re made from fresh vegetables—almost entirely (85%), in fact—and the other ingredients are nuts, quinoa, and spices. There’s nothing freaky going on in there. Lastly, as you may have gathered from the name, they’re fresh, sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store rather than the frozen foods aisle. Continue reading