Black Trumpet Mushrooms Polenta

Foraging for Mushrooms on the Trail

View of Penobscot Bay and Islands on a cloudy day with intermittent rain

David is home for a total of 4 days before his next departure so we decided to take Rosie on one of our favorite hikes. The hike is easy and only about 3-4 total miles but the pay off views are fantastic!


 Along the trail we met with other hikers who had bags, hats, and even frisbees filled with wild mushrooms. Chanterelles, Black Trumpets, and multiple inedible fungi were all over the place after mild temps and light rain presented perfect growing conditions. We decided to join in on the fun and collected just enough for a light lunch. I used ingredients we had on hand at home. Polenta (corn grits) our own home-grown garlic, a bit of white wine, some fresh thyme and these interesting mushrooms to make this dish. We ate our polenta soft, right out of the saucepan without going through the steps of forming, chilling, cutting an baking which makes for a better presentation but would have taken way too long for the instant gratification we needed immediately off the trail. Scroll down for the recipe and don't feel guilty if you don't wait either! In  fact, the only time I really choose to make the polenta triangles or discs is when I am cooking for the Leafy Cafe Meal Service or have leftover grits/polenta in the pot and need to store it!

Last year, we planted seed garlic for this year's harvest!

This is what we used but feel free to try other brands!

Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Polenta Triangles with Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Makes: 4 to 8 servings

1 c. polenta or coarse cornmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill corn grits)
Pinch o’ Salt
2½ - 3c. water or veggie stock (basically, you want 3 – 1 liquid to grits for this brand)
Pinch o’ Pepper
1 lb. FRESH Black Trumpet Mushrooms, OR an assortment of your favorites OR plain white button, sliced
1 – 2 T. Olive Oil *
1 T.  chopped fresh thyme
¼ c. dry white wine
1 T. garlic, minced, or more to taste

*YES this recipe calls for oil! If you would like to avoid it, you could use pan spray or a dry, non-stick skillet with veggie stock or wine standing by if mushrooms begin to stick.

1. Cook the polenta (or grits) in a medium saucepan with pinch of salt & slowly whisk in water or veggie stock. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring almost to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and bubble gently, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 to 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water/stock; you want the consistency to be like thick oatmeal. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary and plenty of pepper.
2. Prepare a large baking sheet with some pan spray or a bit of olive oil on a paper towel. While the polenta is still hot, pour it onto the sheet and use a spatula to spread it out evenly at least 1⁄2 inch thick. Refrigerate the polenta until it sets up, about 2 hours – 24 hrs.
3. Heat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a clean large baking sheet with pan spray or oil. When the polenta is set, cut it into at least 12 squares and cut each square in ½ for a triangle. Put the cakes on the baking sheet, and bake until edges begin to brown (the outside should be nice and toasted while the inside should stay soft), 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Put the 1 -2 T. of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the mushrooms and thyme and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and dried out a bit, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and let it reduce for a couple of minutes; turn the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Continue cooking until most of the wine has cooked off. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve a spoonful of mushrooms on top of each polenta triangle.

Food for Life in its Fourth Year at the Picker Family Resource Center!

sign at the entrance to the Women's Health Building
On Wednesday evening, we started the fourth year of offering the Food for Life program of Cooking and Nutrition Classes for Cancer Prevention & Survivorship at the Picker Family Resource Center. I feel so blessed to be a part of such a fabulous team providing great information and education to the community served by Pen Bay Healthcare and specifically the Picker Family Resource Center! I knew I had to write this post to share how emotional it was and I was teary-eyed just feeling the love!
The sign I see as I lug my many bags and boxes into the Center for class each week.
 It was like coming home last Wednesday evening as I pulled into the Pen Bay Healthcare Campus and followed the signs to the Picker Center, as I have done for four years now. The co-Directors of the PC were the first to go out on a limb for Food for Life and this newly certified instructor, who was really just a stranger to them at the time. Linda Zeigler and Wendelanne Augunus, thank you both so much for taking a chance on me, and the program. Now, the FFL cooking classes are one of the Center's more popular programs! Currently, we have 10 participants in our Summer series.

Linda Zeigler
Wendelanne Augunas
Here are Co-Directors Zeigler and Augunas at the 10th (and final) Victorian Tea for Breast Cancer Awareness. They are awesome educators and compassionate practitioners and we are sooo lucky to have them in our Hood!!

Thanks to a combination of me tossing wishes out into the universe AND all of the generous responses in the form of support, we have consistently been gifted with food donations from Hannaford Market...
Thanks Mark Castonguay & Lori Hamilton!!

 AND a Full or Partial Scholarship Fund for anyone, from an anonymous donor! 
Grant Recipient
In 2012, I put together a grant proposal with Holly Miller and Linda Zeigler, and in 2013, the program received a mini-grant from the Maine Cancer Consortium to go out into the community served by Pen Bay Healthcare to teach 10 Food for Life classes, at no cost to anyone! Another wish come true from the universe! In the four years we have run this program in Knox and Waldo counties, over 500 persons have attended and learned of the tremendous power for prevention we have through our diet and lifestyle choices and the POWER OF OUR PLATES! 
PCRM's Power Plate
I have had many fabulous volunteers helping me with these classes over the years, and I send a special SHOUT OUT!! to all of them, however some of you rolled up your sleeves more than once in the FFL kitchen: Marie Keene, Cathy Harrell, Martha Meyer, Dawn Harlor, Donna Ames, Linda Z. and Wendelanne A. Thanks! This post is for all of you too!

Karen Q at the sink, cleaning up faster than a locomotive! 
 In the last two years, I have had a really special, dedicated, FFL Alumnae herself, as a super-powered volunteer, whizzing through dirty dishes and setting up trays faster than the speed of light! :-) Karen Quinn, thanks for making the program what it is today, a well-oiled, oops, NO oil, a smooth-running machine!!

Ok, I'm getting all verklempt again so I will leave it at this. THANKS Pen Bay Healthcare, THANKS Team Picker Center, THANKS Universe, THANKS Volunteers, Hannaford, MCC, Anonymous Donor...Thank you, thank you, thank you all and Thank you Participants who came to the classes!! Here's to four more!! YAY!

Thank You sign on the Pen Bay Campus
I have decided to share some of the recipes we demo in our first class. Please try these at home! Let me know how you like them!

Easy Bean Salad photo courtesy of istockphoto
Recipes courtesy PCRM and Food for Life

Please Consider Your Food Choices Carefully !

I realize many of my friends and loved ones, clients past,present & future, and just people in general will never choose to go totally plant-based no matter how many true, good & science supported reasons there might be to do so. After reading this article from Dr. Mercola...yes, I read Mercola, I urge you all to consider where your animal products come from for any meal. 
Have a look/read. Thanks!!

Leafy Cafe News, Logos, Interns, Part 2... up next time, Barbecue and Southern Soul!

Things are moving right along here at the Leafy Cafe, with only 3 weeks until my departure for points north. It feels a little odd to be leaving the Leafy Cafe and all of the new friends I have made these last six months (as well as the regular visits from old friends) and I will miss everyone so much! Many of my regular subscribers actually head away from GA for the Summers and Maine is calling strong as the temps here hit the upper 90s and my email box fills with requests for cooking classes and meals to go-go up in that neck of the woods. My plan is to leave at the end of June. But, what will happen with the Meals to Go-Go service??? Who will prepare healthy, delicious meals (which happen to be vegan) for my clients?? In comes intern, assistant, and fabulous blossoming chef-dietitian Katie Sims!!
Katie in the Leafy Kitchen! We love our view of the pool don't we Katie!!

Someone's in the Kitchen with MiMi! Yes, this is Miss Katie Mae! Katie first began working in professional kitchens when she was 19 and living in Athens, GA. which sparked her love of professional cooking and her love for the community. While living in Athens also worked at a local co-op grocery where she learned about health food, eating mindfully, and being aware of where food comes from. Here is more about Katie in her own words:
"It was the first place I ever heard the word "gluten". I made sandwiches, stocked shelves, and refilled bulk bins. I volunteered my days off on some local organic farms weeding, harvesting, and a number of dirty jobs, where my passion for connecting with food began. I got an opportunity to work on some land, I should say, in Trujillo, Peru in the year 2008. I say "land" because It was in no way a "farm". It was this vast field in the middle of the desert, owned by this sweet family who desperately wanted to start an organic farm. Most of my work included clearing the soil of any debris to be considered for organic certification, transferring whatever wild crop there was into neat rows, trail and error style of planting, creating aqueducts, massive weeding with nothing but a machete, and playing with baby goats, cows and chickens of course. 
For a short amount of time I managed the front of the house at Turtle Island Natural Foods where I learned a lot about plant based cooking from Chef Sean Sigman (owner of Dig Foods Inc in Jacksonville). Beet risotto and his curried tempeh salad were my favorites. (sounds great Katie, can you  make us some??)
After many years of traveling, reading, eating and meeting some amazing people, I decided that my love of people and my love of food have found a way together. I am currently in school acquiring my prerequisites for the nutrition/dietetics program at University of North Florida, which I will start in the fall of 2015. "

Katie loves to chat about food, tea, health, etc. And she is a great singer! She's a great addition to the Leafy Cafe team!

When I started to think about how I could leave the Leafy Meal Service up and running while I was away, it seemed impossible. Luckily, another luncheon with a wise friend revealed a suggestion which made sense. What about an intern?? I inquired with my local chef friends and even with the head of our local college Culinary Program and the response was always the same.... "Our students want to learn how to cook MEAT! They don't want to be involved with any veggie thing!!" Well, I couldn't really believe this response, learning to cook healthy, plant-based meals, especially in today's culinary environment, would be a PLUS on anyone's resume, vegan or not! Its like broadening your repertoire by learning how to cook Italian or Asian!! So, I put my thinking cap back on and cast the net a little further. I started writing to every culinary institute, including raw foods and vegan/healthy establishments in search of the right person. I had not one single reply! I was offering beautiful accommodations, training, and a stipend... more than most internships! I think the going rate is YOU PAY THEM for the opportunity to learn! I was beginning to get discouraged and convincing myself of shutting down the service for the Summer while away. One day, while I was shopping for the meals, I ran into Katie. Pure serendipity once again!! I did not really know Katie but knew of her. I actually remember her as sweet a little girl hanging out with her mom. I had not seen her in years until Chef Charles brought her over to the house and raved about her walnut pesto!! That was about 2 years ago. Katie was working in a local restaurant (the same one where I was lunching with cool gal & artist) so we became a little more familiar with each other. I learned Katie was interested in cooking and studying nutrition, and already knew a lot!!! I wondered if Katie might be interested in the Meal Service but knew she had a job and a place to live. I sort of was thinking about an out of towner from Atlanta who wanted to live at the coast for the Summer. 
When I ran into Katie in the Harris Teeter parking lot, I just blurted out how happy I was to see her and what I had in my head... Are you interested in being my intern/assistant/manager of the Leafy Cafe Meals to Go-Go????? SHE SAID YES!!!! The rest is history. Katie came on board just as Hannah was departing and has been wowing me and the clients with fabulous food. Those Lettuce Wraps, the Green Curry/Forbidden Rice, etc. all have come from Katie's magic hands. Next week, she takes over the entire service. I will be present to do some dishes and watch over her but otherwise, she is up and in charge! Katie might benefit from a dishwasher from time to time if there are any willing volunteers out there, let us know. 

Katie brings herbs and food from her garden to the Leafy!! Artist Ed Hose came over the the Leafy Cafe one Sunday and drew the fabulous leafy gals on the newly painted cafe walls.

I have no worries leaving Katie at the helm of the Meals to Go-Go service. Katie will continue to have overage on some items from the meal service which are available on a first come/first serve basis for purchase if you forget to order or if you just want to sample an item or two. She will work in some healthy & delicious muffins and brownies for y'all to try too! I think she is talking about CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI muffins, Yumbo!! 

Katie is very familiar with the Law of the Leafy: 
  • LOW or NO Salt, Oil (butter or anything) and Sugar. 
  • Nothing refined or processed
  • As LOCAL & or ORGANIC as possible
  • Gluten Free at most times, unless it is unavoidable for the outcome of deliciousness 
  • ALWAYS Dairy Free Vegetarian (no eggs, no meat or animal products whatsoever) 

While I am away physically, I will still be quite "hands on" with running the meal service. The other functions of the cafe such as catering, cooking classes, etc. will shut down until my return in late September. Nutritional Counseling will still be available via SKYPE or PHONE. 

Can I hear a big Whoop Whoop for Katie?? 
Life is good here at the Leafy!!


Leafy Cafe News, Logo Ideas, Heart Home, Culinary Interns, and Other Stuff! Part 1.

Hello Healthy Ones!
I decided it was about time to talk about what has been happening here in my little life as it seems to be getting more and more exciting each day. As many of you know, D and I have been living a sort of double existence for many years and we have kept dual residences for as long as we have been together to satisfy each of us. D prefers the climate and fauna of New England, particularly Maine (we have also lived in Vermont which he loved too) and I am a warm weather, southern-sort-of gal, particularly the marshy southeast coast known as the Low Country. I call this region, especially the islands off the Georgia Coast, my Heart Home. Georgia is where David and I met. After a few years of courtship, we decided to make the move from Georgia to Vermont. I went willingly, but with a heavy heart and felt like a live oak being ripped up by the roots.  In the years which followed we have been trying to remedy the empty heart feeling I have while living up north and the one he has while residing in the south. This is why we have owned homes in Vermont and Maine and from Charleston, SC to Quincy, FL.

Living this duality can sometimes be a huge drain for 2 self-employed people (financial and otherwise) and at other times, most of the time, it is a blessing. Currently the latter is the case. I will try to make a long story shorter, and cut to the wonderful logo drawings you see below. 

Sometimes we have been fortunate enough to find a caretaker to live in one house or the other while we split our time. Last year, the fabulous friend, chef and artist Charles Bostick moved out of our Georgia home after many years of loving her in our absence. Charles is currently the chef on Little St. Simons Island (a story all on its own). Thanks for years of service Charles! This old house then took in my sister Patricia and her husband Ronnie, the Gypsy Biker, while Patricia held a great position at the Spa on Sea Island.

Those two are now living in South Africa and managing an AWESOME Retreat called Lion Sands. I came down from Maine in late October and David followed in December. What has happened since that time has kept us both from returning to Maine.

I have started a business! Yes, the Leafy Cafe has come to life! (sort of). I teach the Food for Life Cooking Classes at a local health club which happens to have an empty cafe space. The club decided to close the cafe after many unsuccessful attempts by brave chef-souls to run it. As I understand, it was just never, really feasible financially for anyone. I inquired about using the cafe kitchen to make food to offer Food for Life class participants in support of their dietary changes. The powers that be said YES, (thanks guys!) and on January 5th, we launched our first week of the Leafy to Go-Go Meal Service. I started to cook food from the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart for about 10 - 12 subscribers. Well, the service has grown and continues to do so. The cafe kitchen is limited so we probably will not be cranking out hundreds of meals each week as other such services to, but we have had a record 90 in one service and our numbers are staying strong. We have augmented the availability of dairy and gluten-free, plant-based foods by offering some Grab 'n Go-Go items either fresh from overage of the meals service or frozen favorites which I make and freeze on the off-days from the service. I never wanted to return to the restaurant business as a chef/owner so making the cafe operate on the same terms which I am willing to operate is a challenge. At this point, there is NO OTHER PLANT-BASED DINING ESTABLISHMENT anywhere in Glynn County, or south of Savannah, GA! We are the only vegans in the village!!

We (I) have big plans to start a Sunday Brunch once a month, and possibly Full Moon Suppers, maybe after the Full Moon Beach Yoga practice. Hmmm.... now there is an idea! 
So, the meal service was going so well, the St. Simons Health and Fitness Club gifted me a staff member to assist in the cafe on Monday & Tuesdays. This is/was Hannah. My California girl!! Hannah has been a delight in the kitchen and really loved learning. She already seemed familiar with the vegan/macrobiotic diet because her mother lived far longer with cancer than the doctors ever expected, possibly because of her switch to this sort of eating. Hannah was very young at the time and remembers her mom making miso and green juices. Hannah is an artist who is pursuing her dream and has moved back to be with her family in California. GOOD LUCK HANNAH!!
the newly-painted Leafy Cafe with Hannah helping with the decor!
The cafe needed an identity. It seemed only natural to call it the Leafy Cafe because it was a name I was already using on a website, facebook, twitter and blog! I picked the name based on my love of leafy greens and the CBC radio show the Vinyl Cafe. Its not a real cafe, so I thought I could write a blog about plant-based eating which was sort of a virtual cafe with this style in mind, never considering it would ever be a real cafe. When I was in culinary school, I wrote a paper about opening a Mediterranean cafe which I named Cafe Deja Vu, just thought I would share that with ya! Before I was totally plant-based I ate a Mediterranean diet and way before that, the Atkins diet!! Yes, when I was 16, I had all of my friends on the Atkins diet, eating tuna salad out of pepper halves to replace bread and making mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. Boy do I wish I knew then what I know now!!  Ok, back to the identity of the Leafy Cafe. I was having lunch with a cool gal with whom I never had lunched before, and she suggested this entire meal service or delivery idea. I sort of had it in the back of my mind to start something like the meal service as I had seen models of it in Boston, San Francisco and Portland, Maine. During that luncheon, the idea just clicked and I mentioned I guess I would need a logo. Well, at a nearby table (it was November and we were dining alfresco, just sayin) there sat another cool gal who happens to be a graphic artist! Talk about serendipity! I did not really know her either but she agreed to help me with a logo in exchange for some meals and there you go! The FABULOUS Ed Hose drew these many incarnations of Leafy logos!! Ed even came in to draw these cute veggie gals on the Leafy Chalkboard walls. Thanks Ed!! We love these characters so much, Ed and I are thinking about writing a kids activity book using the veggie people as ambassadors for healthy habits.

One of the earlier drawings for the logo. I loved the veggie wheels but we had to push on. Most people thought this looked like a crab!! Sorry Ed!
So now, 5 months have passed by since our first meal service and we have a logo! Also, as Hannah is leaving, I have a new assistant. This time, I have a really experienced restaurant person who loves to feed people and is passionate about plant-based foods. Katie Sims. I will share more about Katie and introduce her properly in my next post, part 2 of this story. I am feeling so blessed and excited to have her coming on board.  Katie will be more than an assistant. She will be taking over the Meals Service for a couple of months while I return to Maine to spend some time up there with David and teaching the Food for Life classes, and possibly starting a similar meal service in the Camden area! Katie brings lots of experience and fresh ideas to the Leafy. WOO HOO! Thanks Katie!  More Later, including how Katie and I found eachother, photos of Ed's drawings on the cafe walls, my trip to Southern Soul Barbecue on Memorial Day weekend.... the list goes on and on. I hope you enjoy the veggie people as much as we are!!

This is more like it! Notice the carrot legs!

These are our new stickers!!


Lets Go Veg! Even if its just for one week!

Hello Healthy Ones!

Please join us April 21 - 27 and take the VegPledge with US VegNews!

Want to save the planet? GO VEG!!! Even if its just for one day a week, one week a month or more, switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet will help cut back on greenhouse gasses, water usage, AND your mother will love you for it! Mother Earth that is! Watch this compelling testimonial from Award-winning filmmaker James Cameron:

Here's how you can join in and do your part and take the pledge for at least one week with US VegWeek and FEAST on a meatless diet during Earth Week: [TAKE THE PLEDGE](

I will be sending out a post updating everyone on all the Leafy (and MiMi) news that's fit to print very soon. Here is a sneak peak at one of the new Leafy Cafe Logo designs from Ed Hose! She's a little fuzzy right now because we are still tweaking her veggie-ness. What do you think?

Until then... 

  1. Sláinte!

Oatmeal Steve

Steve enjoys his food. This image could be considered the "before" photo! Photos courtesy Bangor Daily News

This post is a bit of a departure from my usual ramblings. After teaching people the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet up and down the eastern seaboard and showing them how to actually cook it themselves, I have accumulated a few testimonials that the diet does indeed work which I would like to share with y'all. 

This month's featured guest (but not the first success story) is Rabbi Steve Shaw. I first met Steve after a screening of Forks Over Knives a few years back. I was doing a Q & A after the film and Steve was a bit curious of the diet and how to get started, would it work for him, etc. He is not really a lover of cooking as much as he is a lover of food, so he was unsure how to proceed when I invited him to attend a series of my Food for Life Cooking classes. Needless to say, he eventually did attend, last October. Here is a note a received from Steve shortly after the class series ended:

I find it remarkable that I've lost over eight pounds in less than four weeks--without really dieting or obsessing over portion sizes.  You've taught me to consider both the GI and the kinds of carbs I eat--and that's made all the difference.   My primary care physician--Dr. Minda Gold--someone I really like,  arranged for me become part of a diabetes nutrition program at Miles Hospital--just around the time I decided to take your class.  The contrast in approaches is dramatic and except for measuring my blood glucose levels on a regular basis, I've concluded that your approach is far superior to theirs when it comes to how and what I eat.  However, I'd like to reserve my final judgment for another two months--after I've taken an A1c test and had my cholesterol levels measured.   In the meantime, I want to thank you again for what you've taught me.  Frankly, as you saw, I was skeptical of taking what I thought was a cooking class and almost didn't register.  However, after eating the delicious food you prepared each week, watching the really well done videos explaining Dr. Barnard's methodology and then reading his book on reversing diabetes, I think I'm becoming a "true believer".  I've spent much of my life thinking that vegans were strange people who'd joined a crazy cult.  Now, I'm embarrassed to say that I'm almost one of them!

Thanks again for all you've taught me,


And a month later...


I'm sending you a link to the article about broccoli which was the cover story in the Sunday NY Times Magazine on November 3.   It begins by saying that "broccoli is about to get a serious makeover--and maybe, just maybe, be a model of how to persuade Americans to eat better..."

Had I not taken your class, I probably would have ignored it.  Now I want to share it with all my friends--since it's so full of vitamins, fiber and other miracle-like substances....

Thanks again for helping to change my life (hopefully...)

Warm regards


And again in January:


I just wanted to let you know about the results of the blood test I took recently.  My A1c number is 5.8 (6 or below is no longer considered diabetic).  Previously my number was somewhere around 6.2--not bad according to my doctor, but she was really impressed with the most recent results and I told her something about the diet that you'd recommended.

MY LDL cholesteral was an amazing 44--less than 70 is considered safe, but some cardiologists believe that a score close to 40 is ideal.  Perhaps this is due in part, at least, to the bowl of oatmeal which I religiously eat almost every morning (along with rye toast) and other aspects of the diet and exercise that I've been following.  In any case, as an experiment, my doctor has permitted me to reduce my Lipitor dosage by half (from 80 mg to 40) and reduce my metformin from 850 to 500.  I'll know within a month about the LDL numbers, but it will take another three months to know about the A1c.

Again, thanks for all you've done to help me look at food differently--now what I have to do is continue on the road you've laid out for me--something that;s not always easy.

I hope you're well.


courtesy Bangor Daily News

Steve is a graduate of the University of Michigan where he studied both philosophy and forestry.  He spent five years at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he completed a masters and a rabbinical degree.  He later served for many years as the director of the Seminary's Department of Community Education.  Most recently, he spent much of the last six years before coming to Maine three years ago, working with Bedouin Arabs in Israel's Negev desert.  Steve also has extensive experience as a consultant  to small non-profit organizations.  He currently is on the faculty of the Coastal Senior College and lives in Warren, Maine. Steve was lovingly  dubbed "Oatmeal Steve" by my fantastic assistant Karen Quinn, probably because Steve's journey into cooking his own plant-based food started with a shift to oatmeal daily, which may have been partially responsible for lowering his cholesterol. Beans soon came along and so did broccoli, salads, etc. but we liked the sound of Oatmeal Steve! (We hope you don't mind Steve!)

Here's to you Steve! Best success in the future - keep us posted!!

(slahn-chə) is a word literally translating as "health" in Gaelic