Stephanie Clayton, 30, Rock Hill
Who she cooks for: She prepares vegetarian dishes that include lots of beans, grains and mushrooms for her family, sometimes friends and her boyfriend.
Signature dishes: "I cook a lot of variations of stir-frys, mixing up steamed vegetables, brown rice and couscous with some kind of sauce like coconut curry sauce or peanut sauce." She makes the sauces on her own.
About being a vegetarian: "I've been a vegetarian since 1998. I really just wanted to try it at first. The more I learned the more I wanted to be a vegetarian. I spent time interning on an organic farm."
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Greatest cooking accomplishment: While in the Peace Corps for two years, Clayton and a friend had the opportunity to make homemade cheese with fresh whole milk that was soured with lemon. She was able to cube it and serve it in a dish with spinach and other seasonings.
Inspiration for cooking: Her mother and grandmother. "They would always cook and I would be in the kitchen. When I went away to college I missed that. I moved out of my dorm room the second year and in with roommates; then everyone would cook."
Favorite kitchen utensils: A silver pair of old beat-up tongs. "They are just great for the kale. It's better than a spoon or a fork. If you need to stir things and grab something, they are really handy."
Favorite ingredients to cook with: Just a little bit of hot peppers and garlic. "If I'm cooking something for my family I will not tell them there's peppers in it. They will eat it if you don't tell them." When she eats pizza, she likes to add a "little kick" to it, but not enough to drown out the flavors in the food.
Favorite TV show: When she watches television she likes to tune in to "Iron Chef America" on the Food Network. "Their creativity is amazing. I am just curious to see what the people do and what they pair together."
Kale by the bunch, rinsed
Sesame oil or olive oil
A fresh garlic clove, crushed, or 1 teaspoon of garlic in a jar
1 teaspoon of tamari or soy sauce
Cayenne pepper or red chili pepper, according to taste.
Wash and chop kale with a knife. Include as much of the stem from the kale as desired.
Pour a small amount of sesame oil or olive oil in a sauté pan on medium high heat. Place kale in the pan and toss around with tongs, cover with lid. Let the kale steam for a minute or longer for desired tenderness.
Add garlic, tamari or soy sauce, peppers, ginger and a splash of water to the kale. Stir and let simmer for no more than 5 minutes. Serves 4.
Portobello mushrooms, any desired amount
Salt and pepper, according to taste
Olive oil or butter
Preheat oven to 350.
Pour a large amount of flour, salt and pepper into a zip-top bag. Add one mushroom at time to the bag and shake. When mushroom is coated, place on baking sheet. Repeat process with other mushrooms.
When done, drizzle with olive oil or butter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until mushrooms are golden brown. Remove from oven, cool and serve.
1 large mango, chopped and peeled, (add or substitute other fruits, such as peaches and raspberries)
1/2 cup plain yogurt or vanilla yogurt
Mix mango, yogurt, a dust of cinnamon and nutmeg and about a tablespoon of honey in a blender. Blend until texture is smooth, then serve. Serves 2.