Friday, April 4, 2014

Who's Cooking: Aimee (Fort Wayne, IN)

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Aimee and I met in college and became even closer friends when she started seriously dating my friend Matt.  We lived together as roommates for a few years after school until she got married and I consider her one of my best life-long friends.  I can’t believe we've now been friends for a decade; the years just keep flying by!

Aimee is a 30-year-old housewife/stay-at-home mom.  She is also an artist who sews, knits, draws and creates mixed media pieces when time and a lack of procrastination allow.

Painting her nails is a favored activity as well as spending way too much time on Pinterest, reading blogs, and Instagraming pictures.  She is married to a crazy-talented creative guy with whom she has had 2 children, a daughter who she holds in her heart, and a son who she gets to hold here on Earth.

As far as her culinary pursuits, she is obsessed with baked goods – usually baking something 2 -3 times a week, sometimes more!  She is a vegetarian and cooks vegan (no meat, dairy, or eggs) at home.  Aimee has been a vegan for about 11 years, making the choice to be vegan during the summer of 2002, right before her sophomore year of college.  Making the choice to eat vegan was based on an effort to eat what she saw as the healthiest diet.

Although, she wouldn't call her college diet 100% healthy (too much vegan-based junk food!), Aimee made many positive changes in regards to healthful eating in 2007 when she hopped on the raw food bandwagon.  Key components of that change were daily green smoothies, zucchini pasta, and a major decrease in her white flour intake.

Aimee’s diet has ebbed and flowed through many vegan stages.  She now has settled on an importance of whole foods, adequate water intake and daily raw salads and or smoothies.  She is not a total purist and loves desserts (which she does bake with white flour as well as a variety of other flours) and has her guilty pleasure for potato chips, which she indulges in fairly often. 

Aimee’s husband, Matt, is not vegan but he has been very supportive of her cooking vegan at home and enjoys it as well.  She’s even turned him into a green smoothie and carrot-juicing convert!  Along with the birth of her son in 2013, she decided to ease up on her strict vegan diet to allow room for enjoying the occasional doughnut, pancake breakfast, and playdate cookie.  Her main reasoning behind that decision is to be able to be flexible for her son and so that he would not miss out on some of the special memories that she looks back on from her childhood. 

Aimee believes that good memories often go hand-in-hand with good food, such as surprise doughnuts, or piling in the car with the family to get waffles for breakfast.  Her happy childhood food memories mainly consist of hotcakes from McDonalds!  They were so big and she could never eat more than one, but she got them every chance she could.  Perhaps more than her son missing out on those times, she was worried that she would be the one missing out enjoying those moments alongside of him. And let’s face it; chocolate croissants from French bakeries are incredible, even if they aren't vegan!  

Motherhood has definitely changed Aimee’s time in the kitchen.  Before either of her pregnancies, she loved to create recipes and even dreamed of authoring a cookbook.  She’s not completely sure a cookbook is in the cards for her future, but you never know!  She still gets the “create a recipe bug” from time to time and her husband is notorious for coming up with amazing recipe ideas that she sometimes sees if she can pull off on her own.  Sometimes his ideas are so good, she wishes he was the family “chef”, but she’s also not sure she would want to give up her hard-earned kitchen street cred!

These days her passion in the kitchen is to make good food to enjoy with her family and friends.  She loves baking for others and for herself; one of her favorite things to do in the kitchen is to “veganize” recipes.  She mostly focuses on converting baked goods, but sometimes experiments with main dishes as well.  With baking, eggs and dairy are fairly easy to swap as long as you don’t have something like pavlova in mind!

Aimee isn't sure how her (or her family’s) diet will change in the coming years, but her constant wish for us is for them to eat mindfully well, and to also create a life of moments around the table that will become cherished memories. 

Q&A With Aimee

Why do you cook at home? I think the pay-off of cooking at home is one of its charms.  The pride you feel when dinner is a success and then adding that recipe to your dinner arsenal is truly a good feeling.  The joy that comes from your children eating and enjoying healthy food that you made for them is fantastic.  Or in my case, if it gets into my one-year-old son's mouth and he willingly takes another bite with no head shaking (this solid food thing has not been the easiest), I consider it a win. Cooking sometimes becomes more work than play, and honestly I will jump at most chances to eat out or to pass the dinner duties onto my husband.  However, I truly love trying new recipes or cooking a favorite meal and reaping the rewards of my family and friends enjoying my food and the pride I have in serving a winning dish.

What is your favorite ingredient to work with and why?  Coconut products are some of my favorite ingredients when it comes to baking.  Coconut oil is a great substitute for butter and I love the slight coconut flavor that the unrefined oil gives to my favorite scone recipe (check out the recipe below!).  I am really excited about attempting to create croissant dough using coconut oil instead of butter. Just this past week I have started using more coconut milk (the kind in the carton) instead of the almond milk I usually reach for.  The deep creamy flavor has really shown through in the cakes and pancakes I've made. I also love that I can make a thick cream out of canned coconut milk that we have enjoyed with scones and with other recipes. 

If you could travel anywhere in the world just to try that country or city's cuisine, where would you go?  Indian food is my favorite cuisine and it would be amazing to try some absolutely authentic dishes. My husband and I often watch foodie shows that are specific to Indian cooking and we "ooo and ahh" the whole time.  I would also love to go to France specifically to eat pastries and drink coffee in their cafes.  That sounds like a dream, right?  As far as American cities go, there are so many I’d like to visit just to experience the cuisine.  Our family bases vacations around the food we will get to eat, so we often talk about going to New York City, Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas to try different vegan restaurants and bakeries.

This scone recipe I'm sharing below is really versatile and is a great starting ground for any flavor of scone you may want.  I want to try oatmeal chocolate chip with a bit of peppermint extract soon.  Raspberry and dark chocolate is also a yummy combination! 


  1. The scones look great and sound easy! I always thought making scones would be difficult but perhaps I'll give these a try this weekend. I'm not really in to baking because I feel like my product never turns out as good as most other people's and I feel like I can't just dump ingredients like I do when I cook. I have to measure...ugh, so daunting! Maybe Gwen and I will give this a try this weekend! Thanks for sharing, Aimee! Miss you!

    1. I used to be really intimidated by scones too, but they turned out to be so easy! They're almost as easy as a "dump" baking recipe ;). The real key is just not to overmix so they stay tender. Good luck trying the recipe!