Staff Spotlight: Our Baking Instructor Michelle
There are so many people working hard behind the scenes to make sure Liberty’s Kitchen runs as smoothly as possible, and we want to give them credit! We were able to sit down with our Baking Instructor Michelle to ask her how she ended up at Liberty’s Kitchen and why she loves what she does.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m from Gramercy, LA, a tiny little Cajun town in St. James Parish. I moved to New Orleans officially this past August, but before that I lived all over the place. But now I’m back in Louisiana and I love being here!
How did you come to work at Liberty’s Kitchen?
While applying for a consulting position at a firm in Seattle, I gave a presentation on how the identity and culture of NOLA is shaped by local food NGOs like LK. I didn’t get the job, but presenting on it was the catalyst that inspired the move back home.
Where did you get your passion for food and baking?
My parents are Indian immigrants, so as a kid I was eating a mixture of Indian food and Cajun food. They were both physicians, so health was a huge factor in what I was allowed to eat. I didn’t have cable, and I didn’t have sweets– My parents preached the idea of “everything in moderation”. Teaching at LK has allowed me to teach what I learned from my childhood and later in life to the people in the program who maybe didn’t have the same lessons about health and nutrition expressed to them that I did growing up.
Being able to teach a tangible skill, like baking and cooking, is a great feeling; helping people every day and seeing immediate and long term results is why I love LK and everything that I do. It is amazing when you are baking cookies with the students, and then they are able to share them with everyone. When I hear them say “Okay, look what I did– I made this,” I know that what I am teaching is actively helping in their time here at LK.
What’s your favorite thing to teach?
I love teaching the students about healthy alternatives to food that they have grown up eating. I recently sat down with some students and helped them plan out a dinner menu that they could cook together. I first asked them what they wanted to eat, and then I helped them tweak it to create a more nutritious version; instead of fried chicken and fried vegetables, they roasted a whole chicken and roasted the vegetables with it. They came back after the weekend and told me they loved it!
One of my favorite healthier recipes is my banana bread. Instead of butter and oil to make it delicious, I add yogurt! It gives it an amazing texture and adds a little bit of natural sweetness, so I don’t have to use as much sugar!
Thank you Michelle for sitting down and talking with me! We love all of our staff and all they do for our young people. Give Michelle’s banana bread recipe a try and let us know what you think!
Michelle’s Banana Bread Recipe
Makes One loaf
Shelf life: 3 days or can be frozen
- 2 ½ cups bananas, pureed
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 ¾ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
Mix dried ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk bananas, yogurt, and oil in a large bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, and eggs to the banana mixture. Add dried ingredients to the liquid ingredients, mixing until just combined. Cover loaf pan with oil and a light layer of sugar, add ingredients to the loaf pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. Test with a fork to make sure it is cooked through. Let cool and enjoy!
-Posted by Hana Rabin, Development Intern
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