Those who visit Tricklebee Café in Milwaukee, Wis., a pay-what-you-can café ministry led by the Rev. Christie Melby-Gibbons, are always treated to delicious food. Now, adventurous cooks can try some of Tricklebee’s wonderful vegan recipes at home, thanks to a new cookbook called One of Everything: Fine Dining in a Food Desert. In this article, Christie shares how this cookbook came to be.
For years, customers have been begging the Tricklebee Cafe to share recipes for the ever-changing menu items. Though it sounds like an easy request to fulfill, it really is quite difficult.
You see, at Tricklebee Café, a daily menu is created utilizing the produce that is on hand or that can be purchased quickly. This means the recipes vary even when the same dish is made again.
Recipes are made for 60-80 people each day, so writing out recipes for families of 4-6 people is a little tricky. The cafe would give a list of what foods and spices were in a dish, and the requestor would have to go and attempt to duplicate the recipes.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cafe temporarily closed their doors—as most businesses did—and the board and staff concocted a plan to re-open safely, retaining the small staff. Creating a cookbook remotely was a perfect way to keep on the staff.
A shared Google document was created listing 15-20 recipes for some of the most-loved dishes. The various cooks got to work typing up the recipes. After a couple months of generating the recipes, Tricklebee customers were asked to be recipe testers. These brave souls took the first draft of the recipes and tried them at home, offering tweaks and suggestions to the recipes based on their experience making the dish. Once the recipes were perfected, photographs were taken of the finished dishes.
Kitchen Assistant Julio Nieves, got to work illustrating the cookbook. Although it was known that Julio was a skilled artist, the level of expertise he showed in creating these drawings was stunning!
He began developing characters (some are caricatures of our staff and their family members), including Pumpkin Boots—a young vegan pirate who is learning about adventure and healthy eating from her pirate mother Spicy Danger. From there, Julio collaborated with other staff on creating this wonderful story of Pumpkin Boot, which has become a comic book series!
This effort was all about bringing health-ful plant-based recipes to the world. The Tricklebee staff want to be sure that all people have access to healthy food, including recipes to make that food. This cookbook project also brought to light the artistic and culinary talent on the Tricklebee Cafe team.
While the project was about helping people cook healthy food at home, it became so much more. The board and staff discovered there were many artists at Tricklebee, and it was beautiful to watch each person shine in their gifts as the project came together. This project enabled this group to be able to offer this first cookbook and comic book to the world.
The Tricklebee Café is thankful to the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America for blessing them with funds from the Hunger and Thirst Field of Interest grant. This full-color cookbook was expensive, as it spiral bound to aid in viewing recipes while cooking, and thick paper for ease of cleaning after cooking.
Adding to Tricklebee’s ministry
The Tricklebee Café ministry is aligned with Jesus of Nazareth who said of the hungry crowd: “I do not want them to go away hungry.”
Many families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin are food insecure with access to an unfortunate abundance of highly processed food from corner stores, with fresh produce being sparse. The Tricklebee Café promotes food security by providing nutritious, affordable, locally sourced meals to all, regardless of their ability to pay. Through the licensed kitchen, they also provide training to the under-employed in order to help them seek dignified jobs and sustainable incomes in food service and hospitality. This cookbook project coalesces well with their ministry of not letting anyone go away hungry, in body or spirit.
Making a cookbook
The Tricklebee Café staff worked with Mike Riess of the Interprovincial Board of Communication to turn the artwork into a printed piece. Working with a local printer in Allentown, Pa., Mike assembled the pieces, ensured they were print-ready and ushered the project through the production process.
The resulting cookbook, One of Everything and its accompanying Pumpkin Boots comic book are available at Tricklebee Café or through the IBOC’s online store. Proceeds from the sale of the One of Everything support Tricklebee’s ongoing ministry.
To order a copy, visit store.moravian.org. Or better yet, visit Tricklebee Café in Milwaukee!