October 2015 Archives

Honoring Peg Lee

Sandra Cook
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Peg Lee began teaching cooking classes at Houston Community College in the 1970s and quickly discovered and delighted in the abundant humor that comes with the territoryPeg Lee began teaching cooking classes at Houston Community College in the 1970s and quickly discovered and delighted in the abundant humor that comes with the territory. A decade later, Peg became the founding director of the Rice Epicurean cooking school. In 2001, Houston's brand new Central Market lured her away to start their, now wildly successful, cooking school where she helped attract well-known national and international chefs, often ushering them all over Houston. 

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Gracie reached out for Peg's advice when she began thinking about forming a program to teach kids to cook, and they agreed that the newly emerging Slow Food group, where they were both members, might take on the project.  "I heard Gracie present the idea of Recipe for Success and I immediately thought that it was a great idea," says Peg. "When you teach a child, you also teach the parents. It brings all of that knowledge into the home and family. Parents see that it's not that difficult to cook and are often impressed with their kids' cooking."   

As a longtime cooking instructor and school director, Peg saw the waves of benefits that Recipe for Success Foundation's Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ could bring. "When parents learn about cooking from their children, it opens up doors for the whole family," says Peg.  

Gracie approached Peg about getting Central Market to sponsor cooking supplies, but she suggested asking H-E-B instead. "I knew H-E-B would be a better partner for Recipe for Success," says Peg. "They have so many more stores that serve more families in the neighborhoods that the Recipe for Success programs were serving and targeting." Peg says she's very pleased to see H-E-B currently supporting Recipe for Success in an even stronger way.   

"During those first few years of Recipe for Success, Central Market did sponsor the Gala in Small Bites series," says Peg, who has retired as the Houston Central Market Cooking School's Director, but still works as an events liaison for the school. 

In those early days of Recipe for Success' Small Bites dinners, Peg Lee worked with the volunteer chefs to keep on budget and impart a certain sensibility to their creative efforts. "I had to be firm most of the time," says Peg. "I had to make sure they didn't over order ingredients, especially things like truffles. 

Peg never misses a chance to spread the word about the great work of Recipe for Success to people in the community, to Houston chefs, and even to renowned chefs and food activists who may have founded other in-school programs. "I've always been a supporter of Recipe for Success Foundation," says Peg.  "I once went to a dinner in New York with Alice Waters and proudly told her about Recipe for Success. And she said, 'yes, I've heard about Recipe for Success.'" To this day, Peg remains a cheerleader and advocate for the Foundation.   

Peg would like to see the Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program taught in every state. "I think Recipe for Success programs should be mandated across the country," says Peg"I feel education doesn't stop at the door of the classroom - when you educate the child, you educate the whole family."  

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Blue Plate Special Awards Luncheon

Shannon Smith
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Join us as we honor our friends and supporters in November! Reserve your seat at the Recipe for Success Blue Plate Special Awards Luncheon to hear our featured speakers, Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh, internationally noted bloggers and the co-authors of the bestselling cookbook How to Feed a Family: The Sweet Potato Chronicles. These delightful speakers will be sharing their experiences and anecdotes, making for a most enjoyable afternoon. The luncheon is set for November 18 at the River Oaks Country Club. CLICK HERE for tickets and sponsor information.

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Steak (R)evolution Panel Discussion at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Shannon Smith
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Community_Steak at MFAH-Panel.pngIn mid-October, Recipe for Success Foundation collaborated with MFAH Films, the film department at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for the screening of the documentary film Steak (R)Evolution. Directed by Franck Ribière, the film takes viewers around the world with farmers, chefs, butchers, and food journalists to uncover the art and culture of red meat.  

Following the film, Recipe for Success Foundation's Founder & CEO Gracie Cavnar led a panel discussion on the topics featured in the film. Panelists Glen & Honi Boudreaux, owners of Jolie Vue Farms and Chef Kris Jakob, of Kris Bistro at Culinary Institute LeNôtre, offered their perspectives of farming and beef production. Here are a few comments from the discussion: 

"Small-scale farming is bringing young people back into farming," said Glen Boudreaux. "I see that as a good thing, considering most farmers are over the age of 60. I'm glad to see that small-scale farming has grown exponentially over the years, and that's good for producers as well as consumers." 

Community_Steak at MFAH-Marian Luntz.png"As a chef, I am pleased that quality beef and other meats are accessible to restaurants and that more restaurants are serving cuts from nose to tail," said Chef Kris Jakob. "As restaurants, we have to do some marketing of the lesser-known cuts, but that's easy because many customers are asking about the products and wanting to know more about the food they're ordering."   

 As a small-scale farmer, Honi Boudreaux explained that she appreciates building relationships with customers. "We get to do direct sales, which connects the customer to the farms," said Honi. "Now the big meat industry is looking to farmers like us to learn how to go about that. I feel we must connect people to the land. That's what Recipe for Success gardens at schools do - they connect kids to the land. We have the capacity to grow all year, so no one should have to go hungry."  

November Recipe Challenge!

Sandra Cook
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Holiday cooking season is here!  What a great time to join in the fun of Chef Justin's recipe exchange! Each month, his tantalizing recipes along with his picks of recipes submitted by our readers, followers and fans - that's YOU! For November, try Justin's delicious Sweet Potato Tart, featuring a comforting combo of both sweet and savory flavors. What's your favorite holiday recipe? Perhaps a main course, a side dish or dessert? Send your tastiest recipe to justinkouri@recipe4success.org by Nov. 30 and you could win the November Recipe Challenge and be included in next year's VEGOUT! COOKBOOK. 

Sweet Potato Tart

Recipe & Photo by Justin Kouri 

This is a very versatile tart; it can be served as a savory OR sweet dish! Whenever you decide to serve it, this twist on traditional ingredients is a great addition to your holiday repertoire. 

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Pie Crust

1¾ cup AP flour

1 Tbsp sugar

½t salt

1½ cup butter, cubed & chilled, divided

1½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp ice cold water



2 sweet potatoes

1 apples

1 onion

1 Tbsp olive oil

3 egg yolks

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp cayenne

½ tsp salt

1 orange, juiced



3 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp cream of tartar


Pie Crust

Combine flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add ½ cup of butter and pulse until completely incorporated. Add remaining butter, vinegar and water. Pulse until dough just comes together. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour and up to 1 week.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface. Once the dough is ¼" thick, pick up and place in a greased 10" tart pan. Blind bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.


Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Toss potatoes, apple, onion and olive oil in a large bowl. Place on sheet tray and roast for 30 minutes or until fork tender. Put potato mixture in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add yolks, spices, salt and orange juice to processor and pulse until incorporated.  Add filling to pie shell and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.


Prior to serving, whip egg whites, vanilla extract and cream of tartar in a metal bowl until holds stiff peaks. Top pie. Brulée under broiler or with hand-held flame. 

Honoring Kim Tutcher

Sandra Cook
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It was when they were neighbors a dozen years ago, that Kim Tutcher first met Gracie Cavnar--before she started Recipe for Success Foundation.  But she was actively researching the issue of childhood obesity and shared her concerned with Kim.  As a wife and mother, Kim was moved by Gracie's determination to find a way to address this health pandemic, so as Recipe for Success took off, Kim stepped up as a founding Board Member, rolled up her sleeves and helped launch the cooking classes, volunteering monthly at Briscoe Elementary throughout the first year of programming.  The first party she gave in her new home was a Small Bites Dinner to raise money for Foundation efforts.  In 2008, Kim chaired the first Blue Plate Special Café Luncheon featuring Dr. Mehmet Oz--reaching income levels yet to be matched.  After retiring from the Executive Board, Kim has remained a member of the Foundation's Community Advisory Board.

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"Seeing how far Recipe for Success has come in the last 10 years is amazing - it just keeps calling me - and so does Gracie," Kim says with a smile. 

"One of the stories I like to share - and will never forget - was setting up the classroom at Briscoe Elementary for the cooking classes," says Kim. "There was a whole series of things to be done, from rolling in the cooking carts to prepping for the chefs, and then the clean up, ugh! We had to fill tubs with water from a tiny sink in a janitor's closet and, very carefully without sloshing too much, get them back to the classroom to wash all the utensils, pots and pans."

Kim recalls a very special day and the close of the school year. "One of my most powerful memories was a luncheon at Ouisie's Restaurant," says Kim. "Elouise Jones was one of our first volunteer chefs, and at the end of the year she invited the whole class to her restaurant. She toured us through the kitchen and had set up the private dining room with linens, china, silverware placed just so, flowers and menus. It was so touching to see the kids order from the menu, select the proper silverware and use their manners."

Kim continues to support Recipe for Success because she sees the many ways its programs leave a positive imprint on children, preparing them for adult life. "My favorite program is probably the farmers MarKIDS. It was fun to see how proud they were of the vegetables they grew. They set up stands, worked them and had to figure out the money - lots of moving parts."

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Thank you, Kim, for being one of our magnificent moving parts!     

October Volunteer of the Month

Sandra Cook
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The dynamic Eileen Hatcher currently volunteers at Recipe House as a helper in the Recipe for Success offices. Eileen began volunteering with us as a classroom and gardening volunteer, and later brought her generosity and enthusiasm for our mission to our office to lend a hand to our staff members. We asked Eileen a few questions about her experiences as a volunteer.  

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What sparked your interest to volunteer with Recipe for Success?  

Eileen Hatcher: I've been eating food all my life, cooking most of it and growing some of it for a good while, too, so it seemed that my skill set matched nicely with the Recipe for Success mission and activities. At a Houston Urban Gardeners meeting, the Recipe for Success instructor at my local elementary school explained how the program helps kids learn to garden, cook and eat healthy foods. As soon as the meeting was over, I walked up and signed up. As a vegetarian, I was excited that recipes with no or less meat were used in the kitchen.  


What keeps you coming back week after week? What are your favorite things to do or experience when you are volunteering? 

EH: The children in my neighborhood need much more positive interactions with each other and adults. The spirit in the kitchen and garden was always gentle and supportive. I loved the children's responses to seeing things grow. I loved hearing them toss around science and foreign (cooking) words that they had never heard before. I loved that they would warn each other not to step on the earthworms in the garden. Molding appropriate social behavior and interactions was perhaps a secondary, even unintended, outcome of the Recipe for Success curriculum, but it may have been as important as the modeling of good health practices   


How does volunteering enhance your life?   

EH: Volunteering with Recipe for Success in my local elementary school made me appreciate my upbringing in a family that gardened and was too poor (or cheap) to buy processed foods. (Bet my mom never thought she'd hear me say that!) I now realize how difficult it can be to support healthy eating in a single parent household and that working parents need help and resources for how to make meal-prep and mealtime a participatory family event. 


Do you have a favorite memory / story thus far? Could just be an observation or a specific moment in time.  

EH: Sharing home-grown and home-cooked food ties us to culture and community. What is served and how it's cooked is all part of your history and sharing it confirms your belief in the future. As Houston becomes more diverse, sharing these recipes and dishes help us appreciate each other's (and our own) cultures and understand each other better. Everyone's granny or mom used to eat in season, cook family recipes and tell the stories about family and location. 

For a stir-fry cooking lesson, the local Pei Wei donated 100 chopsticks to Recipe for Success to enhance the lesson. The kids were so excited to not only cook, but also learn how to use chopsticks and explore another culture. In the garden, the children learned how to make seed balls of wildflower seeds and clay to increase germination and viability. 


It's Recipe for Success' 10th Birthday: where would you like to see the organization in another 10 years?  

EH: In 10 years, I would hope that gardening and healthy eating would be a part of every school's curriculum; but knowing that is fairly improbable, I see a need for some existing seed-to-plate programs to expand and serve more grades. I would like to see additional classes using ethnic recipes as the basis for encouraging healthy eating. I would like to see the continuation of meatless meal preparation, even more instruction on healthy shopping and attention to ingredients in off-the-shelf cooking products and identification of genetically modified ingredients. I would also like to see Recipe for Success supporting family potluck dinners in the schools and the community. 


[Note: Recipe for Success has extensive curriculum available that teaches children how to read labels and make good decisions when purchasing prepared foods.  These real-world shopping lessons are embedded in our free farmers marKIDS curriculum and Eat This! Summer Camp. ] 


Thank you Eileen for volunteering with Recipe for Success! To inquire about volunteering opportunities, email our Volunteer Coordinator.  

Sharing with Southern States

Shannon Smith
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We are so proud to have Rachel England, our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ Program Coordinator, represent Recipe for Success at the 9th annual Southern Obesity Summit taking place November 15-17 in Jackson, Mississippi. This marks Recipe for Success Foundation's first participation in the conference, with Rachel leading a breakout session on our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™.

Michelle Smith, Texas Coordinator for Alliance for Healthy Kids, first encouraged Rachel to apply for a breakout session earlier this year. "I saw it as an opportunity for Recipe for Success to be a part of the greater conversation about preventative solutions. It's important for people in a position to do something to see that children don't have time to wait for schools to catch up with the research data," says Rachel. "During my session, attendees will not only learn about our innovative and engaging Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™, but also be invited to take advantage of our free VegOut! curriculum and the farmers marKIDS curriculum," says Rachel. "I'm excited about the possibility of those programs spreading throughout the south, where obesity rates are some of the highest in the country."

 The Southern Obesity Summit (SOS) is the largest regional obesity prevention event in the United States, drawing hundreds of participants from the 16 Southern States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. This year's conference expects around 400 people to attend.

Harvesting Carrots.jpgRachel's session will demonstrate how Recipe for Success Foundation programs have achieved remarkable results by actively addressing and combating the childhood obesity epidemic through hands-on learning that introduces children to their food from seed-to-plate. "I will explain how our academically aligned curriculum helps children learn the entire cycle of food, gain a new appreciation for food, and have fun while doing it," says Rachel. 

"I look forward to showing educators and administrators the importance of weaving nutrition education into the culture of their campus," says Rachel. "I will share best practices of the Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ Program, easy tools to implement, and an overview of how our many lessons are aligned with the Common Core."

According to the conference, attendees at SOS are likely to be policymakers, leaders from community-based organizations, federal and state government officials, health care providers, youth and members from national and state associations.

"Beyond my breakout session, I'm also looking forward to the opportunity to network with educators on university level and the potential to get more people onboard on a national level, as well as spread the word to advocates who can help get more schools involved," says Rachel. 

Urban Ag is BOOMING & Hope Farms Is On Board!

Emily Paul
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Farmers markets are booming with numbers increasing to more than 8,500 from up from the 5,274 in 2009! Recipe for Success and Hope Farms are right on track with that growth and the USDA knows it! We are delighted to be the recipient of one of their awards that will increase access to local foods announced this week amounting to nearly $35 million allocated to communities. In honor of this award, we thought we'd educate you a little more about urban farming and why it is so important.

First off, what exactly is Urban Agriculture? Urban agriculture is the practice of growing food in an urban environment and that is what we will be doing at Hope Farms. Through urban agriculture, people are brought closer to the source of food production. This in turn could potentially lead to decreased food insecurity.

What exactly is food security? The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food security as "...access by all people at all times to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life."1 Food insecurity refers to a diet of reduced quality, variety, and desirability for some populations. To achieve food security, food must be readily available at all times to all people, and be of sufficient quality and nutritional value to sustain a healthy and active life. Security depends on diversified food systems of food preparation, production and distribution.  

In America, More than 23 million people in live in food deserts and this lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related illness, such as diabetes and heart disease.

With Hope Farms, we will try to bridge the gap found in Houston's food deserts and create security with our Rolling Green Market, which will deliver significantly reduced-priced, fresh fruits and vegetables and The Hope Farms Co-Op, which will distribution of products to premium and wholesale buyers, CSA members, farm-to-school programs and farmers markets to support the new urban agribusinesses. Find more about what Hope Farms is doing here

Join us at Saks Fifth Avenue

Recipe for Success
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Time to put on your favorite Aquazzura stilettos and party with designer, Edgardo Osorio! Please join Carrie Colbert on Wednesday, October 28 from 6pm - 8pm for our second Dress for Dinner of the season!  You won't want to miss the fun at Saks Fifth Avenue!  Buy your tickets here!

Just look at the fun we had last month!

We're in Edible Houston!

Sandra Cook
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With the fall garden season is upon us, be sure to pick up the September/October 2015 issue of Edible Houston magazine to read the great article by Jenna White on farmers marKIDS! The article showcases our free farmers marKIDS program and features quotes from Recipe for Success Agriculture & Garden Director Justin Myers, as well as multiple garden instructors. If you haven't already, download the farmers marKIDS toolkit and make plans to host a farmstand during farmers marKIDs DAYs, Oct. 20-26 each year. You can also come support local school kids and celebrate Food Day 2015 at our farmers marKIDs stand at Discovery Green on Satuarday, October 24! Savor the fall harvest!

Go Green

Gracie Cavnar
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FMK Pitch.jpegDid you know that domestic produce travels an average of 1,500 miles before making it to your local grocery store?

Every October 24, thousands of events all around the country bring Americans together to mark Food Day by celebrating real food, such as produce that is seasonal and locally grown. Another purpose of Food Day is to advocate for better food policy.

October 24 is a day to resolve to make changes in our own diets and to take action to solve food-related problems in our communities at the local, state, and national level. For 2015, Food Day planners are encouraging people worldwide to shift "Toward a Greener Diet" by seeking more locally grown real food.

Recipe for Success Foundation's engaging, free, downloadable farmers marKIDS curriculum offers a rewarding way for kids, teachers and parents to celebrate Food Day, joining in the nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Participating in the farmers marKIDS program not only connects entrepreneurial kids to a healthy, sustainable way to raise funds to support their gardens, it also makes fresh produce easily accessible to the surrounding neighborhood. Kids are encouraged to stage their farm stand the week of Food Day: October 20-26, during the nationally celebrated, annual farmers marKIDS DAYS.

We think a great way to green-up your diet is to buy homegrown produce from local neighborhood kids! We hope to see lots of Houston supporters come out to our farmers marKIDS stand at Discovery Green on October 24. Don't forget: All kids who participate in the program and register their market stands with us have a chance to win garden seeds, and farmers marKIDS who send in a photograph of their stand in operation will earn a chance to win up to $500 in garden supplies and be featured on the Recipe for Success Foundation blog, social networking sites and in media coverage. Just be sure to register and submit photos of your stand! Get your class, scout troop or family started with the free, downloadable farmers marKIDS toolkit, which includes five lesson plans to develop financial literacy, entrepreneurial skills and business experience.