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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

Volunteer Spotlight: Angelina Adkins

Rebecca Blauw

Angelina Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I love what I do: cooking and teaching others how to cook. It’s my passion. I love working with children and believe in educating them early on finance, budgeting, shopping, and cooking – basic survival skills that they will need to make their way in the world.

I graduated with my Associates degree in Culinary Arts from Henry Ford College on May 9, and will finish my second degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management next year. I’ve been invited by Henry Ford College to go to China for a 15 day study abroad program next month. We’re going to Beijing, Shanghai, and Qingdao, and will visit the Great Wall and Forbidden City. I am beyond excited!  I am also in the Bake Club, Ice Carving Club and Student Council. In Ice Carving Club, I have been in many competitions, but nothing like Frankenmuth Zehnder’s Snowfest. It is one of the top snow and ice sculpting events in North America. In January 2015, I won two bronzes metals. I am going back in 2016 for my gold.

I am the proud mother of two gorgeous young ladies, Nubiannaa, who is 15, and Brianna, who is 12. Both of them love to cook, but they don’t want to be cooks. They are my inspiration. I love my babies.

How did you first become interested in cooking?

I come from a large family with 13 kids total, and we grew up under the poverty line. I cooked a lot when I was young. We had to get creative to make things last. Sometimes it was hard to get one meal on the table, let alone three. I didn’t know it at the time, but the things I was learning then are the things I am doing and teaching now.

When did you decide to take a more formal approach to the culinary arts?

I had a few jobs in the cooking field, and the last one was at a little mom and pop restaurant. They suggested that I go to school to get my culinary degree because they could see that it’s my passion. At first I enrolled at Oakland Community College, but it ended up being a little too far to drive. I switched to Henry Ford College, which also has a great program. It’s allowed me to participate in some great things and great events. I’ve met some great people, including a few celebrity chefs, and made great connections.

What inspires you as a culinary instructor?

My inspiration is helping others. I want everyone to learn how to feed everyone in their house real well with what they’ve got and not have to cook the same thing all the time. I want to show people that they can have variety and more healthy items.

What tips do you have for eating well on a tight budget?

Use the internet. You can find almost anything on there, even on a budget. Use recipes as a guideline, or look online for recipes that use the ingredient you already have. Always start your shopping trip at the outside of the grocery store.

What do you like about volunteering for Cooking Matters?

I loved all the classes I taught, but I especially like working with children. They have so much enthusiasm and a willingness to try anything.

Do you have a recipe you would like to share?

Spinach Pie

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil a 9x9 inch square baking pan.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion, green onions and garlic, until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to sauté until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, and feta. Stir in spinach mixture.
  4. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough in prepared baking pan, and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with two more sheets of phyllo. The sheets will overlap the pan. Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging dough over filling. Brush with oil, then layer remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with oil. Tuck overhanging dough into pan to seal filling.
  1. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.

Tip

  • For bite sized pies, layer about 4 or 5 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with olive oil. Cut into 5 Spinach Piestrips. Take 1 tablespoon or more of spinach mixture place on one end, and fold phyllo dough over until you reach the other end. Follow baking time and temp, or freeze for later.  Makes a quick and healthy after school or work snack or even lunch.
  • Aluminum foil or parchment paper can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.

Read more about Angelina in this Al Jazeera America article.