Spork Foods is a Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg. They offer live cooking classes in Los Angeles and online vegan cooking classes at www.sporkonline.com, one-on-onein-home healthy pantry makeovers, and recipe development/trainings for chefs, food companies and colleges.
Heather Goldberg, left and Jenny Engel, right, of Spork Foods.
Their cookbook, Spork-Fed, will be released in October 2011, with a foreword by fellow fans and sisters, Emily and Zooey Deschanel. Based on the Spork philosophy that veganism is about all of the wonderful things you can have, instead of what you can’t, Spork-Fed features over 80 original recipes, gorgeous full-color photographs and healthful tips sure to make any mouth water.
Stay tuned to our blog for more info about this book as its publication date approaches.
Heather and Jenny took time out recently to answer some questions for us about their past, present and future plans for Spork Foods. They also generously shared one of their fantastic recipes.
What started you on the vegan path? What was it about environmental studies that made you decide to go vegan?
Although 3 years apart, but virtually twins in all other aspects, we became enlightened to the world of veganism in college as Environmental Science majors. With Heather living in San Francisco and Jenny studying at UC Santa Cruz we each took classes called “World Ecological Crisis”, “Environmental Economics”, and “The Future of Rain Forests.”
Needless to say we were both very alarmed! What we learned about was the connection between the degradation of the planet and the meat and dairy industry! Right then and there, and very separately, we went vegan over 11 years ago.
We worked together at an environmental non-profit organization called TreePeople in Los Angeles for a few years, sharing lunches and dreaming of running our own sister-business, until our hearts inevitably led us into the kitchen to do the work we were meant to do.
In your videos, you talk about the benefits of using herbs. What are some of your favorites to use? Do you have a favorite recipe you could share that takes advantage of herbs?
Lemon thyme is our fave herb! It has a gorgeous scent that is mildly lemony and super fresh! We fold it into cashew cheeses, make zesty light potato salads with it, and throw it into spiked lemonade!
One of our main goals is to keep you out of the doctor’s office and show you how to take the health of you and your loved ones into your own hands every time you eat! Our food is more than just calories and protein. When you eat well and eat naturally, you have the ability to improve your body and mind. We’ll drink some carrot juice to that!
Here’s a recipe using lemon thyme — you might try it at your next party.
White Wine Cashew Cheese (on black bean sliders)
WHITE WINE CASHEW CHEESE
1 1/4 cups roasted unsalted cashews
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon light miso paste
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon neutral tasting oil, organic safflower preferred
3 tablespoons unsweetened almond or soymilk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup vegan white wine
3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, stemmed and finely chopped
In a large food processor, add cashews, garlic powder, sea salt, miso, brown rice syrup, oil, almond or soymilk, lemon juice and wine.
Scrape the sides of the food processor occasionally and blend until smooth.
Fold in lemon thyme once.
Transfer to a bowl and ENJOY with crudités or crackers!
© Spork Foods, 2009
Tell us about your online classes! Can you tell us what some of the out-of-the-kitchen experiences might be?
We launched our on-line classes at www.sporkonline.com less than a year ago! It is a membership-based website for anyone who wants to learn how to prepare fun, easy, delicious, vegan recipes – served anytime!
Our classes are shot and edited in HD by professional filmmakers to create an entertaining and engaging experience.
A NEW COOKING CLASS featuring a four-course meal and built around a specific theme is posted online and available to members once a month. The classes are filmed with an eclectic group of students (including celebrities, authors, activists, farmers, parents, entrepreneurs and more) that spark interesting conversation around the dinner table and offer their own expertise. As a member, you get to watch their conversation unfold!
Each month the site will also offer EXCLUSIVE BONUS RECIPES and classes that feature specific holiday and seasonal themes – all designed to enhance your cooking repertoire!
You will have access to extended OUT-OF-THE-KITCHEN EXPERIENCES with Jenny and Heather, taking members on mini adventures with us! In our favorite one, we take our bestie Rory Freedman, Author of Skinny Bitch, to a farm where we eat things we’ve never even seen before! We have an ARCHIVED CLASSES section so you can master your kitch skills like a pro day or night! Don’t forget to ask the sisters your pressing foodie questions on our FOOD 911 page!
Whether you are a lifelong vegan, veg-curious, or just want to expand your cooking repertoire, Sporkonline offers tried and true original recipes that will please all of your friends and family!
Do you find that being based in LA is an advantage? Do find more vegans there, or a more vegan-oriented culture?
As 4th generation Angelinos, we love being in L.A. and in fact, we’re never leaving! Living in L.A., we are lucky because there is an abundance of Farmer’s Markets all over the city with incredible local fruits and veggies everywhere you look.
We actually take a sister trip each year to a place we have never been and can’t speak the language. We have truly found a vegan culture in every single corner of the earth that we have explored, from Japan, to Greece, The Cayman Islands to Cuba. We vegans are everywhere!
Are other people in your family vegan?
Mom and Dad are vegan, and as my Dad’s doc says, “You’re the healthiest patient we have!” On no meds at age 70 and looking spry as a teenager, Mom and Dad are sticking with it. We’re still working on Grandma…
Tell us a little bit about some of the things your parents and grandparents taught you about cooking — we love stories of families in the kitchen, and traditions that are passed down.
No need for explanation, we will let YouTube do the talking! In this video, Grandma Jeanette teaches us her strudel recipe, veganized, of course!
In our cookbook Spork-Fed we will feature Grandma’s Birds Nest Cookies that she has been making for us since before we can remember.
The one huge lesson that our mom taught us in the kitchen is to never be afraid. She adds whatever spices she has, puts all sorts of veggies in a pot – and it always turns out amazing.
We love to teach people about harnessing their “kitchen intuition” so they can go from relying on a recipe to becoming masters of cooking improvisation.
Feel free to tell us what you like about our spices. Do you have any particular favorites?
We adore Frontier spices and we use them in everything!
We’re thrilled that you offer a wide array of organic spices, and we’re pretty much in love with your Ceylon cinnamon!
But the other thing that we really appreciate about your spices is that you have a picture of what the spice looks like on the container.
When we pass around the turmeric in our cooking classes, for example, people notice that it looks a bit like ginger root when they see the bottle and they feel more connected to their food. It makes us so happy when people make connections with the foods they eat and the plants they come from – so thanks for that!
Thanks so much, Heather and Jenny. We can’t wait for your book!