Culinary Camp

This summer on June 13th-18th I went to a culinary camp at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. It was really fun and I learned a lot. Though being vegan limited the amount of things I could eat, I still got to try new foods and cooking techniques while keeping my stand on animal rights.

We did a lot of cool classes like knife skills, taffy pulling, plate painting, and napkin folding.

In the afternoon we would cook in the professional kitchen on campus and in the evenings we’d have fun activites to keep us entertained like going to a local baseball game, an outdoor challenge course and a huge arcade on the last day.

In the middle of the week we went to the Metropolitan Community College Institute of the Culinary Arts for a tour of their facilities and a special three-course lunch prepared for the campers by the head chefs and their students. Much to my surprise and delight, before the lunch started one of the head chefs came out and told me he had prepared me a special lunch of my own because I’m vegan. He said he had fun cooking it all because of the challenge my dietary restrictions caused.

Here’s what all my lunch consisted of:

The first course was spicy fresh vegetable gazpacho with a sprinkling of fresh herbs on top.

The second course was roasted beets topped with sea salt, a micro greens salad with tomatoes and red wine vinaigrette, roasted almonds, and a bit of candied orange peel.

The third course was a nicely arrainged bowl of fresh mango, strawberries, and blackberries.

It was a great lunch! The gazpacho was fresh tasting, but had a spicy kick. I must admit, at first when the beets course came out I was skeptical because I’m not much of a beet fan but I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were. The fruit was sweet and the perfect ending to a good meal.

Lemon-Berry “Cheese”cake Recipe

When I went vegan I was afraid that I would have to give up many of the foods I loved, including cheesecake. But then I discovered silken tofu!

Like most tofu, it’s tasteless and white, but with a soft and creamy texture. When you mix it with other tasty ingredients and bake it in a pie shell it ends up with the texture and taste of cheesecake! I’ve been experimenting with this recipe for while and I’ve finally got it how I like it.

Lemon-Berry “Cheese”cake

Printable Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:

One graham cracker pie crust (store bought or home-made)

1 cup silken tofu

1 cup strawberries (fresh or thawed frozen)

1/2 cup mixed berries, I used blackberries, raspberries and blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

2 TSPS lemon extract

2 TBSPS cornstarch

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine silken tofu, mixed berries and strawberries. Process until smooth. You’ll probably have to scrape down the sides a few times to make sure everything is combined.

Add constarch and lemon extract, then blend until smooth. Then pour in the sugar and (for the last time, I promise) combine until smooth.

Pour the tofu/berry mixture into the pie crust. Put the pie into the heated oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Chill for at least 5 hours, then slice and serve! Feel free to garnish with vegan whipped cream.