Interview with Jaime K in Cedar Crest College Alumni Newsletter

When I was contacted by someone from my college, where I was graduated in 2005, to see if I would be interviewed for the alumni newsletter, I was admittedly taken aback. See, the thing is, I had a lot of trouble finding a job in my field after graduating (and I didn’t want to move away) and I became really bitter and resentful that I bothered to go, and incidentally racked up student loans that I still don’t want to think about.

It was around this time my graphic designer, Christian, made a bunch of goofy internet memes to promote the show. This was one of them:

Come on, that’s funny.

Anyhow, this may be my favorite interview to date because I was able to touch on  the ideas of trying to figure everything out and feeling let down and frustrated at times, but pulling through to create the life you want.

(For the record, when I read this aloud to my boyfriend he couldn’t stop laughing and saying, “You need to take your own advice!” It’s true. I still forget some of this stuff, so let’s both try to remember, okay?)

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Cedar Crest College Exchange . Spring 2012 . Alumnae Profiles

Jaime Karpovich ’05 has blended her two favorite activities – writing and cooking – into a lively career. But the combination goes deeper than that. Karpovich, a communication major at Cedar Crest, often has drawn on her love of cooking and her belief in a healthy lifestyle to get her through tough times.

“I grew up in this punk rock subculture,” she says. “Many of my friends were into social justice causes, and veganism was important to a lot of them. I never really got it until my Dad died when I was 17. It made me think a lot about death, what is unnecessary, and what can be prevented.” At times like this when life presented challenges, she says, “cooking was the only thing that felt okay.”

Today Karpovich lives in Bethlehem and writes a vegan cooking blog titled “Save the Kales!”. She started writing it two years ago and typically adds new entries – anything from a quick recipe or restaurant review to new cooking videos – a couple of times a week. She’ll be featured on a 30-minute cooking program by the same name debuting in May on RCN, a development she calls “a dream come true.”

She also keeps busy as a freelance writer and helps organize Bethlehem Vegfest, and she’s on the steering committee to form a retail grocery co-op in Bethlehem.

“When I graduated from Cedar Crest, I thought the world owed me a good job becaus I had ‘done the right thing’ – got good grades, went to college, got involved in clubs, was elected Commencement speaker, tried to be a thoughtful and kind person”, she says. “But I found out the world doesn’t owe you anything. You have to believe in yourself enough to know that you can create anything you want right now. The time is going to pass anyway. Do something with it.”

Karpovich has learned the life lesson that circumstances can change on a dime, but her goal is keep being a resource and example of a compassionate lifestyle. “I am really excited to see the direction this TV show could take,” she says, “and I want writing to always be a part of my life.”

Looking back on her time at Cedar Crest, she says: “Beyond any of the academia or job skills, the college taught me to think for myself. The freedom to share our ideas with professors and be taken seriously, the way our professors would get to know us  – sometimes before we even knew ourselves – guided us in directions that helped us grow. The college as a whole always felt like a family.”

 

Potato, Apple and Kale Salad with Whole Grain Mustard Dressing

Yesterday had the sort of humidity that felt like you put your head in an oven upon walking outside. I don’t know why I bothered to cook a salad that required boiling stuff, but trust me, it was worth it hours later when the salad was nice and chilled in the fridge.

I used a bunch of kale I had that was starting to wilt, but feel free to substitute or add other green things, like asparagus, green beans, or some peppery lettuces.

Once again, this was inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day.

POTATO APPLE AND KALE SALAD WITH MUSTARD DRESSING

  • About 10 medium sized red potatoes, cut into large chunks (about 6-8 peices each)
  • One bunch kale chopped/torn into bite sized pieces
  • some salt to add to the boiling water
  • 1 gala apple, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch dill, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
DRESSING
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard (dijon would work too)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. agave

Add potatoes to a large pot of boiling water and cook until just tender, not mushy, about 8-12 minutes depending on how big you cut them. With just 2 minutes of cook time left, add the kale. Strain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Put the rest of veggies and herbs into a large mixing bowl. Prepare the dressing in a bowl, or put in an old jar with a lid and shake up. (Double the recipe and have some left for other things!)

Put the potatoes and kale into the mixing bowl, add dressing, and mix with your hands gently as not to smush the potatoes.

Potato, Kale and Apple salad

Potato, Kale and Apple salad

Let this chill a few hours before eating, overnight may be best. You can eat it as soon as you’re done, but it is so much better once it’s chilled. Patience is a virtue!

SAVE THE KALES: Episode 1, Tofu Factory. Vegan Cooking Show with Jaime K

Here it is! The first full episode! Wow!

In this episode, we go to the Fresh Tofu, Inc. factory. President of the company, Gary, tells us about how they got started (a vegan food truck in the 1970’s – this guy is awesome) and you can buy their products in and around Pennsylvania, and they also supply to some “high profile” NYC restaurants and businesses.

Then back at the kitchen, we make a Tofu Garlic and Basil “Ricotta” Pizza with Fresh Arugula and Lemon. PLUS my Sunday Morning Tofu Scramble — a true weekend staple in the Karpovich/Hill household.

Finally, our friend Johnny Gee from the blog Johnnysized joins us to share the meal and talk about how going on a plant-based diet has helped him lose over 70 pounds (to date, currently) and get off ALL medications.

You can find the recipes below.

RECIPES

BASIL “RICOTTA” PIZZA

  • pizza crust of choice, cooked
  • 1 block firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 bunch basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • salt to taste
  • fresh arugula
  • fresh lemon wedges to squeeze on pizza
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Have a pizza crust already cooked and ready to go!

Cut tofu into 1/2 inch thick slices, lay on a clean towel, and press with your hands to get the water out.

Put tofu in a food processor. Take all the leaves of a bunch of basil and add to the food processor, along with garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, and olive oil. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides if needed.

Spread the mixture on top of the pizza dough. (Mixture and any leftovers can be put in the fridge for a few days.)

Drizzle olive oil on the pizza, then top with fresh arugula. Serve with a wedge of fresh lemon and guests can use it to add fresh lemon jucie to their own pizzas (or do this yourself ahead of time). Fresh cracked black pepper and some salt finish the dish.

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SUNDAY MORNING TOFU SCRAMBLE

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 2 small yellow or white onions, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper and 1/2 green pepper
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 2-3 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos(or tamari or soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • garnish with fresh herbs or avocado slices

Press the water out of the tofu and set aside.

Cut up the onion, mushrooms and peppers and set aside.

In a large pan or skillet, heat up the onion and olive oil until onion is translucent, about three minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for about three more minutes. Then add the peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Once veggies are cooked, use your hands to crumble the tofu into the pan. Add Bragg’s (or soy or tamari sauce), garlic powder, turmeric, and dried basil. Mix everything. Add nutritional yeast and mix again. Salt and pepper to taste.

Top with avocado or fresh herbs, and this can be stored in the fridge for several days and eaten as-is or as part of a sandwich, salad or burrito.

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Come back for Episode Two which will be on air/online in June! We go to a local community garden, give some hearty comfort foods a healthier vegan makeover, and learn more about The Bethlehem Food Co-op. 

If you’re interested in advertising on the show, send an email to postsputnik@postsputnik.com

Teaser/Commercial

Here’s the 30 second commercial spot for the full show!  I’ll have the whole half-hour online within the next two days. Until then, here’s a peek…

***I need to mention that before we used the “Making a world a kinder place, one recipe at a time” tagline, I googled it and tried to see if anyone else had used it. I couldn’t find anything. However, after Episode One was shot, I found another vegan cook had used “Making the world a better place…” I never intended to rip off anyone’s (super awesome) line, and I will no longer use it in furture episodes. Sorry for the mix-up!

Wheatberry, Avocado and Broccoli Pesto Salad

I took an hour this morning to have the “rainy Sunday” I missed out on yesterday. New magazines, coffee and reading cookbooks start-to-finish are my favorite things. Plus a new candle from Mercantile Home – my absolute favorite candles on the earth, ever, and they will be featured in my next “Little Spoon” guest blog for LV Style magazine’s website (new one out later this week).

All that reading makes a girl hungry. Heidi Swason’s Super Natural Every Day cookbook inspired this dish. It’s a spin on her Orzo Salad (p.95) based on the ingredients I had on hand. (She obviously uses orzo pasta, which I replaced with wheatberries, and the pesto I made uses sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast instead of pine nuts and parmesan.)

WHEATBERRY, AVOCADO AND BROCCOLI PESTO SALAD

  • 1 and 1/2 cups dried wheatberries
  • 3 and 1/2 cups water, some salt added
  • 5 cups raw broccoli (about 3 medium sized bunches) cut into bite-sized florets and stems
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2/3 cups raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon, plus zest if desired
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • dried red pepper flakes for garnish

Cook the wheatberries in the water. This takes about 30-45 minutes. Wheatberries are dense and when fully cooked still have a sort of “al dente” chewiness. I love the texture. Once cooked, strain and set aside.

Ingredients for broccoli pesto salad.

Add the broccoli to a large pot of boiling water, and boil for 1-2 minutes, until just blanched and bright green but still crisp. DON’T OVERCOOK. Stay near the stove. Strain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

 

Add 2 cups of the broccoli to a food processor, along with garlic, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, oil, lemon juice and zest.  Process until a pesto-like consistency. (It will be a little creamier than a typical pesto.)

Broccoli pesto (vegan).

In a large bowl, add wheatberries, broccoli pesto, remaining 3 cups of broccoli, and avocado. Stir everything together. It will get really creamy thanks to the pesto and avocado. It will seem thick, but you won’t need to add any more oil (unless you want to), so just keep mixing. Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with some dried red pepper flakes for a pop of color.

Wheatberry, avocado and broccoli pesto salad.

*I have been using sunflower seeds in place of pine nuts in a lot of recipes lately. I buy a lot of dried fruit/veggies, beans and raw nuts from a market that sells them in pre-packaged bulk. The sunflower seeds are SIX TIMES LESS MONEY than pine nuts. 

They aren’t as “creamy” as pine nuts, and for some fancy recipes or when you have a party, you may want to use pine nuts. But for every day cooking and sticking to a grocery budget, they have yet to do me wrong.

TV Show Recipes

Hey everyone! I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people about where they can find the recipes featured in the first show. I had planned to put them online in the same post as the first episode, when it goes online. It was supposed to be this week, but then my computer had a heart attack (see prior post), so that was pushed back a little.

Next week: Episode One ONLINE and the recipes, too! xo

Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Muppets Movie, and Believing in Yourself

Pardon the lack of updates… My computer’s hard drive came thisclose to completely crashing (and I still needed a new one). I was able to salvage my photos and podcats, and everything else of value exists on the internet. However, I can’t remember our home’s wireless network password, so I’m stealing internet access where I can get it.

But you know, this makeshift workspace has some excellent views…

Bethlehem Steel

Just last week, Ryan and I finally got to see The Muppet Movie, the new one. OH GOODNESS HEAVENS ABOVE, I CRIED SO MANY TIMES. Happy cry, sad cry, nostalgia cry, I-know-what-that-feels-like cry, people working together and isn’t it all so beautiful cry, crying-cause-you’re-already-crying cry… Tears were flowing. A box or two of tissues later, I did find it to be incredibly uplifting, and true to form, some excellent life lessons were tucked in along the way.

The next day, I was reading the new issue of Oprah magazine. Don’t laugh, I think she’s incredible. In 10th grade English class I did a project about her, and my teacher called me “Oprah” until I graduated. Growing up, my mom would always tell me, “Some day when she’s no longer hosting her show, they are going to need a new show to fill that time.” Ahem. Big dreams, that’s all I’m saying. The Muppets can do it, Oprah can do it, I can do it, you can do it. Now, back on track…

I came across an article with an interview of Maggie Gyllenhaal. Don’t you just love when famous women are actually smart and articulate? A rare breed. I’m even more in love with her after reading this, which ties everything together:

“About three years ago, I was in a little off-Broadway play. I thought it was great and was proud of it. But one night after the show, at an audience Q&A session, a guy said, “Don’t worry about The New York Times.” I’d learned never to read reviews, but this confirmed that they must have been bad. And for a couple of days, that slayed me. I’d always thought that if I believed in what I was doing, people would respond well, even if they had different tastes. But at that moment I realized this was simply untrue. Then I thought, Maybe I’m completely wrong about everything. I became so sensitive to others’ opinions that I had a hard time saying, I know I love this, so who cares what everything else thinks?

It took me a while – and it’s an ongoing challenge, to be honest – to stop seeking approval. But one day, and this might sound cheesy, I took my daughter, Ramona, to see the new Muppets movie. There’s a part where Kermit the Frog says, “Maybe you don’t need the whole world to love you, you know? Maybe you just need one person.” When I heard that, I started crying. There’s just so much pressure to be a great mother, wife, friend, actress, or whatever your job may be. If some aspect of you wants everyone to universally love and understand you and approve of everything you do – well, that’s a sad life. You’ll bend yourself into a pretzel trying to be all these things you think you’re supposed to be.

These days, I’m better at saying, Wait a minute. It’s alright if other’s don’t approve, because I believe in what I’m doing. I’ve found some strategies that help. A friend of mine, Emma, once told me, “You’re going to drop the ball sometimes. That’s how it goes.” This is a person who’s not constantly trying to please everyone or afraid of making mistakes – she just lives her life. So now I think, What would Emma do? A year ago, I even did another play at the same theater with many of the same people, and this time I felt so much stronger. I thought, this is my work. I’m doing the best I can. I know not everyone will love it. And that is fine.” 

– Maggie Gylenhaal, as told to Crystal G. Martin, Oprah Magazine 2012

 I can say, without a tiny wavering doubt, this has been the biggest lesson for me in the last year. And I think it takes going up against some sort of opposition before you can learn it. It takes some sleepless nights and sick-to-your-stomach days before you can come out the other side and realize one negative opinion doesn’t mean more than your opinion, and your opinion is that you’re doing all you can to be great. Oh. 

Thank you Kermit, Maggie and Oprah.