When Aimee Strohbeck says come to dinner, friends and relatives don’t expect what they might fix at home and certainly not what they would order in a restaurant. They also plan to arrive early to be sure to have a front-row seat for the food demo.
Food is pure adventure to the Swanton, Ohio, yoga instructor, who glides through her kitchen with the greatest of ease while her friends watch spellbound from the counter stools. Watching her chop, slice, blend, sauté, stir, broil, and garnish is more informative than the ordinary food demo.
Aimee Strohbeck serves Buddha Bowl featuring several vegetables.
As one guest who has given up cooking in her senior years said, “Aimee makes it look so easy, I may go back to cooking.”
“What’s that?” “What are you doing?” And “can’t wait to taste that” are some of the questions and comments that come from the gallery of guests as appetizers are served on the counter, including sweet potato sticks with the skins intact, roasted with coconut oil and served with an aioli dipping sauce. Cream cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers are also applauded by guests. In summer, the cooking stage moves to the outdoor grill, where dinner begins with hot, crisp vegetables served poolside.
Aimee’s neighbor, Ruth Anne Walsh, never says no thank you to soup invitations.
Borscht and carrot, made with fresh vegetables, are but two of her specialties.
Aimee’s interest in ethnic foods scored high the day she pulled a sheet of beautifully browned Mediterranean meatless fatayer from the oven. It was “just a little snack” after a horseback ride on a chilly morning, she explained.
Friends know Aimee is a die-hard vegetarian, bent on eating for health and fitness to support her image as a yoga instructor. After breakfast, lunch, or dinner at her home, they learn that going meatless can be a delicious experience. She also is an informative guide on how to order vegetarian in restaurants.
BLADE PHOTO/ LORI KING Enlarge
Grocery shopping to her is a well-thought-out plan to select foods that are fresh and healthy. Canned and frozen products are not on her list nor in her vocabulary, no matter how much work it may take to prepare the fresh ones or how far she has to drive to select what she is determined to find.
Then there was the cold, snowy day last winter when Aimee invited six friends to the Grand Kerr House in Grand Rapids, Ohio, for massages. Of course food was included in Aimee’s plans, but nothing like doughnuts or cookies. Her idea was a buffet of warm bread puddings. Each guest brought her version of the old-fashioned dish, which has been gaining new popularity the last few years.
Only one of the puddings on the buffet was different from standard sweet bread pudding with sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and served as dessert.
Aimee changed the time-honored dessert and made a savory bread pudding with gruyere cheese, leeks, mushrooms, rosemary, and thyme. All agreed it was a pudding fit to accompany the finest main dish.
All the above review of Aimee’s kitchen repertoire is an introduction to the Buddha Bowl she served at a dinner party recently.
Buddha Bowls are comforting, good for body and soul, and sure to keep table conversation lively.
How can guests not comment and offer personal judgment on the contents of several bowls of food as they are being passed around the table?
Aimee credits her daughter, Meredith Meads, a senior at the University of Cincinnati, for the recipe and adds, “Hers is much better.’’ A second daughter and son-in-law, Madeline and Evan Arnold in Seattle, are newlyweds.
Before planning a Buddha Bowl dinner, it would be best to check the cupboard to be sure there are enough bowls. The requirements are a bowl for each food and one for each guest. Aimee used nine gravy bowls for the food. The place of each guest was marked by an oversized mug. Guests spooned the contents from the bowls into the mugs and poured dressing over all. If you don’t try some of all the bowls the first go around, seconds are welcomed.
The variety of cold and hot foods in the bowls, resulting in colorful layers with diverse textures, included chickpeas, white rice, quinoa with barley, grated beets and carrots, baby spinach leaves, cauliflower florettes, and avocado slices.
In addition to the rice and vegetables, one bowl was filled with smoked pork pieces.
She explained that she made a trip to Pettisville Meats in Pettisville, Ohio, for the loin “just for the meat eaters.” But at the end of dinner, the pork looked untouched.
Apparently, the meat eaters were more interested in the vegetables.
If you want to make your own Buddha Bowl, here are some instructions.
Soak dry chickpeas overnight in water. Drain and cook about 1½ hours in water. Drain. Roast, seasoned with cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika.
Aimee is also partial to a special seasoning for vegetables. It is a mail-order spice combination from Savannah, Ga.
The grated beets and carrots are combined with sesame seeds, coconut, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, and fresh mint.
This recipe is from the Hollyhock Cookbook, a favorite of Aimee Strohbeck for salads or with a Buddha Bowl.
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup tamari
1 to 4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup sunflower oil
Mix all ingredients well.
Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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