Riverdel Vegan Cooking Class

 Freeni: Hey listeners this is Freeni Aragones, I recently participated in a vegan cooking class hosted by Michaela and her team from Riverdel, a vegan cheese shop with a location in Brooklyn and the Essex Market in Lower East Side of Manhattan. We’ll talk about what she hopes the participants learned from her class, companies expanding the vegan market to non-vegan consumers, what advantages being vegan can have on the world, and how we can use our power as consumers to change the market shape.

Freeni: When you’re making your classes, when you have your ideas, what is it that you want people to take out from it? Besides the cooking what is that you want to give to people?

Michaela: Besides the cooking, which is the essential part, I want to teach people to not be afraid, if you want to explore these options you’re still going to eat well, you’re not going to starve and also I want to keep it simple, because I’m not one who likes to follow a recipe precisely, I like to improvise a lot. I kind of want to give people that option too, for example this cheese sauce recipe that we use, you can use as a sauce, you can use it as a spread, you can add herbs to it, it’s very basic recipe, you can use in many variations, the idea behind it is I want to help people not be afraid of this, even if you don’t cook, you can do a vegan turkey roast, I mean you didn’t think that was going to happen.

Freeni: Some of us might be afraid to change our eating habits because we don’t know how challenging the adjustment could be, making food we have grown accustom to becomes easy to make, and part of our culture. When we go to bar-be-ques a ton of easy to make food is there from hot dogs, to burgers, grilled chicken. So, I wanted to ask Michaela about Beyond and Impossible meat, two vegan options entering the meat industry.

Freeni: Now that I think about it, I want to ask what do you think about the beyond burger and the impossible burger?

Michaela: Their great substitutes, just like you said, they are easy. Burger is already there, you put it on a paddy, and you are done. Don’t have to think about it. Same for impossibly meat. What I like about these two companies in particular is that, their target group are not vegans actually, their target groups is everyone. They are sold in the meat aisle, they are in burger king and places like that you know, places vegans wouldn’t go to cause there’s nothing for me. Their approach is really about, ok, the way we eat right now is not sustainable. How can we fix that? It wasn’t about, oh, here is another product for vegans. They are really targeting a bigger group, that is aware they should be doing something, but doesn’t know how or it’s inconvenient. I do like that approach a lot because it makes people more comfortable with the fact that if I don’t have meat, then what am I going to eat? That’s what people think, you look on your dinner plate and there’s always a piece of meat in the middle. And there are a few sides, then you take the piece away and then it’s like oh, what am I going to do? I think that’s where people need kind of, they need a little help to get over that hurdle.

Freeni: A lot of us consider meat our main source of protein, but Micaela gives us a great term into understanding that we could be selling ourselves short and might not be aware of the effects happening to others around the globe. To produce meat, plenty of resources and land is needed, but other people are being affected because their resources might be used for animals instead. Additionally, most of us might be blind to what is occurring because of the way meat is presented to us.

Michaela: Animals are really the middlemen, we consume them because they have protein, but how do they get their protein? They get it by eating plants and we can do the same. Cutting out that middleman and going to the source, you don’t have to raise an animal to get food and have a healthy life. It’s very sad to see things like the rainforest, the fires that are burning down the rainforest these days is largely due to animal agriculture.

Freeni: The biggest one right now is Brazil.

Michaela: Which is one of the biggest meat producing countries, we don’t even see it here, it’s the people in those countries and in those poor areas that actually get the worse deal of it, we just get the meat shown up in our supermarket, we don’t even realize what’s behind the package of meat.

Freeni: I think the biggest reason for the meat being packed the way it is, I mean besides efficiency and stuff like that, I think people want to create a disconnection from the fact that their killing all these animals, for example chicken is poultry, cows are beef, pigs are pork. You make a disconnection and it helps a little bit.

Michaela: And veal is not a baby cow, but they are baby cows. Or lamb chops, that’s a tiny little…

Freeni: Meat is presented to us in multiple ways and it’s up to us to decide whether we will accept it or slowly start making changes, Michaela helps us have a look into some places already making a change and how small changes can eventually make vegan lifestyle mainstream and show why it’s possible.

Michaela: You always see other countries such as Europe or also here in the U.S. where you see numbers of vegetarians or vegans or plant-based consumers increasing. Hopefully it’s reaching a point where it will become more mainstream, think about burger king and dunkin donuts having vegetarian and vegan sandwiches, that reaches so many people. I think it’s going to show people “hey its possible, I’m not missing out” and going back to the classes, I want to show people that it’s possible, you don’t have to be afraid, you do have a choice and you can make the choice. You are going to save an animal; you are saving the planet and you’re doing so much better for yourself. I think once people start realizing that it isn’t just steamed broccoli and tofu that I’m eating, I hope that more people will take that step.

Freeni: Voting is always important and it’s easier to witness its effects when it comes to food, because our choices make votes all the time, shaping what our supermarkets will provide for us. They always seem to have what we want, but when see new choices appear, we know someone out there has a demand for it, making us curious. When we are presented with new options, we might we make new decisions.

Michaela: So meat companies are starting to realize that, the smart meat companies are the ones that get on board now to support companies such as Impossible, that buy the vegan product companies, because they do start realizing that they have to go that way. That’s the power of the consumer, you vote with your dollar, every dollar you spend you vote with it. So if you buy that vegan product, you are voting for it, you’re increasing demand for it, then companies say ‘hey wait a minute there’s a demand now, and it looks much better for us. You also have those optics; the future generation is looking for that.

Freeni: If there is a demand by them, there should be someone working on the supply.

Michaela: I mean it’s also nice that generation has options now, my parents never said to me “if you don’t want to eat the meat it’s okay.” It was always, this is what you’re eating, what else are you going to eat? We never had that choice, it was never like, oh sure I’m gonna make a black bean burger for you. No, its here you go, this is what you’re eating. My parent’s generation certainly didn’t know that there was an option, now we see that we now have options and you can make that choice and not starve.

Freeni: There are tons of options one can choose to consume if looking to change their way of eating. And if you don’t want to change the way you eat that’s ok, but know there are benefits to this planet, others, and yourself, by expanding the options you eat. A huge Thank You to Michaela and the entire Riverdel Team, for Baruch Blogs this is Freeni Aragones.

Tipsy Scoop Ice Cream Class

Freeni: Hey listeners this is Freeni Aragones here to talk about an amazing ice cream booze infusing company called Tipsy Scoop, who share some of their recipes through ice cream classes. I got the opportunity to speak to Abby Lavin, the Director of Operation for the company, by making a trip to their production facility in Harlem. It was a bit difficult finding it but well worth the trip. The classes are held in their production facility as well where you will hear some of the employees, trains because its New York City of course, and most importantly get an Introduction to Abby, Tipsy Scoop, and their incredible Instragram page which everyone should check out.

Freeni: You guys have a page that people want to be a part of, everyone wants ice-cream one of the most popular desserts ever, everyone wants to mix booze, if you can put booze into something people are going to be there. Over 21. You guys have crazy decorations, when you guys put all these things together, how does it feel to come up with the final piece when you see everybody be happy, maybe after a class or something, how does that feel?

Abby: It’s amazing! It’s always the best feelings to make your customers happy and excited, we love what we do, and we get so excited to share what we do with others and make them happy. Melissa Tavs in the owner and founder of Tipsy Scoop, She’s the creative director, she thinks of all the recipes and decorations, she’s a genius. Does such a great job putting things together, there’s a lot that goes on behind closed doors, as every small business has, but we work really really hard to make sure our customers are satisfied with our product and our Instagram is sort of a story of what we do.

Freeni: How many tipsy scoops are there?

Abby: We have two retail locations in New York City, we have our production facility in Harlem, where we are now. We have our co-packer who produces a large quantity of our ice-cream in Brooklyn, and then we are in wholesale nationwide, we also ship nationwide.

Freeni: Their Instragram page might inspire soon to be ice cream makers and could create a world where ice cream machines become just as popular as a coffee makers and toasters. For now, we get a close look into how Abby used to implement her ice cream skills at home, making you considering buying an ice cream machine for yourself.

Freeni: The average person doesn’t know how to make ice-cream, this is actually why I’m coming here, I’m a huge fan of ice-cream, it’s one of my guilty pleasures, because I have ice cream way too often. For someone who knows how to make ice cream, how often do you make it at home and what is your favorite ice cream combination to make?

Abby: Good question, so actually I’m actually a classically trained French pastry chef, so I have been making ice-cream for over a decade. I used to make it at home before I went to pastry school and when I was in high school, I would have fun with a small ice cream machine at home. But now that I have access to a commercial grade ice-cream machine here, I don’t make ice-cream at home as much anymore, I do eat a lot of ice-cream at home. For the average person trying to make ice cream, there are lots of great books out there, to find recipes to find out how to make your standard ice-cream. As well as some really fabulous ice-cream machines out there, you just mix it and you pour it in, press on and start and its ready to go in 10-15 minutes. But in class you really get to see how to make boozy ice-cream because the ratios are different, obviously alcohol doesn’t freeze, so you wouldn’t add too much alcohol, and then if there’s not enough alcohol then what’s the point?

Abby: Alright so now we’re going to do our ice-cream, which is Santa’s cookies and whiskey, This is the first special class doing this flavor. This is one of our most popular holiday flavors. It’s based on the story with Santa eating cookies with milk.

Freeni: Besides ice-cream what’s your favorite thing to do? That you could put alcohol in.

Abby: Well chocolates are a great example; you could put old fashioned types of cholates like rum balls. They don’t bake off so you can get the alcohol in there. A lot of baked goods though, bake. So you bake off alcohol and it doesn’t have the alcohol content. With ice-cream you don’t bake it off, so it actually stays in and we have a 5% alcohol. It doesn’t disintegrates, doesn’t evaporates.

Freeni: Honestly just let me know what’s the craziest story you’ve ever experienced working and teaching classes?

Abby: The craziest story teaching classes… obviously when you have retail stores crazy things always happen. In our classes which for the most part are pretty well maintained, and we have really lovely students who get along with each other and it’s a professional-happy environment. Once we were doing a corporate class with a corporate company, there was you know coworkers there and I guess they had a corporate happy hour before they got here. They brought along their own alcohol as well, so by the time they got here they were pretty tipsy. So they were not interested in the class. We no longer allow BYOB in our classes, but we do provide tastings of the alcohol we put in the ice-cream while you’re making it, so it doesn’t get as out of control anymore.

Freeni: Remember that important detail, you don’t pre-game for Tipsy Scoop, Tipsy Scoop is the pre-game. They create a great environment for a corporate team, dates, family outings, whatever the case is, you’ll leave with a bunch of ice cream and ready to enjoy the rest of the night.

Freeni: So when it comes to bake off and bake on, is this anything that people can find online and what would you recommend if someone wanted to do it too.

Abby: It’s a really good question, there are more desserts made of alcohol now than there were 5 years ago even. For an example a very popular bakery on the west side, prohibition bakery, their known for boozy desserts, they have a cookbook, so you could find their cookbook. You just have to go online and read the recipes, teach yourself you know, bake it, see how it tastes and that’s the best way to learn. Thank you! That was so fun.

Freeni: After speaking with Abby, I checked Prohibition Bakery’s book on amazon and a bunch of recipes are available inside of it if anyone wants to give it a try. Other booze infused books and foods pop up as well. Making ice cream and baked desserts can be time consuming but spending the day in an ice cream making class opens the door to plenty of possible booze infused options that might encourage us to learn ourselves. Thank You to Abby Lavin, Melissa Tavs, and the whole Tipsy Scoop team. With Baruch Blogs this is Freeni Aragones.

Close The Camps

Immigrant treatment and policy has become a major topic throughout the nation with the current administration of the United States. On October 11th the Democratic Society of America worked towards highlighting some issues around immigration by providing information on what’s happening globally regarding immigration and how big corporations are helping ICE. Freeni Aragones spoke with Louis (29 years old) an employee for the DSA immigrant justice working group, and one of the organizers Elisiah (26 years old) to get a better insight.

The Democratic Socialistic of America have been working together throughout the Unites States tackling multiple issues, recently they coordinated a protest at Bryant park to bring more awareness towards the nationwide camps made that hold immigrants and how ICE is putting them there.

DSA chapters are organizing all over the country through a mobilization primarily lead by coalition to close the concentration camps this weekend’s so organizations including lots of DSA chapters are organizing nationwide, that’s important because this is a federal agency we are fighting against. Then the other thing is fighting against ice on the local level, one of the biggest things we have been engaged in is ICE out of the courts campaign.

Yeah, we are trying to stop ICE from detaining immigrants at their court dates, it’s a big problem, they were being arrested going to court and inside. It was something that didn’t pass the way we wanted it to, but we are bringing it back for the next legislative session, and we hope to win. It’s also important to remember the camp are not just at the border, they are everywhere, ICE is in New York city, not just along the southern border. It’s a national mobilization, these mobilizations are happening globally like Elisiah was saying, and it’s just part of a much larger movement, and the DSA is just one organization.

The DSA is dealing with two issues at once and have to find a way to go about addressing both. On one side you have ICE who is imprisoning immigrants in camps separating numerous families, while on the other end you have large companies making substantial profits in aiding ICE towards their goals.

It needs to be two pronged because there is the government’s responsibility, that can be targeted through government actions, federal administrative action, but also through the corporate end, because these corporations have these contracts worth multi-million dollars, we should be doing things like public pressure, boycotts, and worker actions. Salesforce has had workers of salesforce try to get the company to end its contracts. All these things that you can do the end the corporate profiteering, but because we know the economic motivations are as strong as the politic will and we need to end both.

That’s an important point, economic motivations influence a lot of the decision’s companies make globally. They attempt to figure out what a consumer wants and shapes a product to that description. Ads online are ways companies target consumers and try to influence how we spend. However, if people begin to realize how much power they have as a consumer they can shape their own request by putting pressure to a company’s bottom line.

This was a simultaneous action between New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. We are trying to do things more in tandem. A lot of the chapters had been acting more autonomously, we are trying to do things more synchronized now. The idea is just to reach more people outside the organization, if people say for example, they would stop buying things from Amazon, the pressure would be enormous. These contracts are huge but the amount of money they make from the public in general dwarfs it, if we can get even a fractions of Amazons customers or salesforce contracts to either stop utilizing their service or threaten to, it can be hugely impactful.

The other thing is both Amazon and Saleforce , it’s about pointing out how all these companies are implicated and complicate in what ICE is doing, and highlighting that so that they can cut their contract and thus make more it difficult for ice and border patrol to do what they do.

Thank you for listening, from Baruch College to the world this is Freeni Aragones.

Podcast Pitch

For my podcast I would like to focus on independent business around the New York City area. What inspired them to come up with the idea? When did they finally believe they were able to accomplish making their own business? What were the first few road blocks? How great was finally opening? What’s in the future?

I’ll be interviewing the owners of Ceremonia Bakeshop located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s one of my favorite places to go to, new establishment and would be great a start for the independent business podcast.

MLB.com’s Statcast Podcast

The statcast podcast is purely about baseball from a statistical point of view, introducing new players who are performing beyond expectations, veterans who have been under performing, and everything in between. There are many ways they go about analyzing players, teams, and the organizations as a whole, but sometimes they even tell short stories about a players career that can make you feel closer to a player and his journey becoming a professional. The combination of pure statistics lightened by short stories of a players life creates a mix that’s entertaining to listen to being a fan.

This podcast is intended for baseball fans who want too consistently updates themselves on who are the newest starts of the game and forgotten gems who could surprise in the near future. A pair of host talk to each other in an unscripted manner but do have a scripted layout of their topics. Considering this podcast is owned by MLB there are little to none advertisements, but any advertisements are of MLB.

Statcast podcast is distributed via apple podcast or on their website. The popularity isn’t very high considering it’s targeting only baseball fans and more specifically baseball fans into statistics of the game. No waves have been made outside of the baseball world but within the effects have been positive, specifically baseball twitter.

Since each episode is very similar in the use of statistics and forecasting of future performances, any latest episode would be a good start. The reason is because the hosts do a great job of consistently making the information easy to understand and always have new information ready to make you consider statistics differently.