Danielle Wohl creates good food and goodwill. A community volunteer, Wohl prepares fresh food with a higher purpose: to bring people — including her family, husband, Phil, and 16-year-old son Jordan — together.
Wohl, who was born and raised in Detroit, and her family moved to the Kansas City area two years ago, and she continues to share her food philosophy with others.
“I try to have an attitude of gratitude year-round,” she says. “There’s a sense of personal fulfillment in giving to others, which includes sharing food.”
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Occupation: Not-for-profit social media coordinator
Special cooking interest: Healthy, flavorful foods
Not only do you cook your heart out, you also seem to wear it on your sleeve. I was working for a not-for-profit in New York City during the attack on 9/11. After that I wanted to get back to Michigan to be closer to my family and the more familiar Midwestern values. But what I’ve learned is that people everywhere respond to kindness, and that is especially true when you share food with others. Food, by its very nature, is very communal and meant to be enjoyed.
Did you grow up cooking? I grew up the second-youngest in my family of five siblings. My father owned camera stores in Detroit, while my mother has operated an art gallery for 31 years. My parents loved to entertain, and I grew up in a home that always had parties with very interesting people. I am drawn to beauty — as most people are — but beauty also extends to the food I eat and prepare.
I like to use fresh ingredients as much as I can when I cook. My family doesn’t eat red meat or fried foods. I also love to set a beautiful table, because it just extends the pleasure of the meal.
Is eating with your family a priority? We rarely eat out, and I love cooking for my family, since I know exactly what is in every dish. Our family loves to be together, and we appreciate each other’s company. We have a busy teenager but enjoy the end of the day, when we can all connect and talk about our respective days. It’s really important to pay attention to and nurture the connections we have with others. Not just in our families, but also to extend kindness to others wherever we are. To hold the door for an elderly person, to share leftover chili with your neighbor — these are the niceties I still practice as I try to pay kindness forward.
I can’t believe there is any of this chili left over to share with neighbors. It is so uniquely thick and flavorful. This is one of my family’s favorite dishes that was inspired by a recipe on the blog from the “Smitten Kitchen,” which is written by Deb Perelman from her tiny New York City kitchen. I made some changes to it so that it would be my very own. My family looks forward to this as a hearty and filling meal that always promises to be full of flavor.
This chili is one of the easiest recipes — perfect for a crisp fall day — and is unique with the addition of cocoa powder and cider vinegar. I also love using my slow cooker, so no matter how much running you’re doing during the day, there’s always a hot meal ready and waiting for your family when you return to the table to eat. To me that is the recipe for happiness.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Email her at email@example.com to nominate a cook.
Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds ground turkey, browned and drained of fat
1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
Into the crock of a slow cooker, stir together turkey, vegetable stock, tomatoes and black beans. Season with chili powder, cumin, onion powder, cocoa powder, salt, cider vinegar and optional cayenne pepper and gently stir until combined.
Set the temperature of the slow cooker to warm, place lid over contents, and allow to cook for at least 7 hours.
Ladle into bowls and serve with optional toppings, such as grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, minced jalapeno and/or corn bread.
Per serving, based on 4: 563 calories (30 percent from fat), 19 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 146 milligrams cholesterol, 40 grams carbohydrates, 61 grams protein, 966 milligrams sodium,15 grams dietary fiber.
Note: For a “soupier” chili, add vegetable stock until desired consistency is achieved.