Dining at The Ravens: Over 150 Nourishing Vegan Recipes from the Stanford Inn by the Sea

Dining at The Ravens: Over 150 Nourishing Vegan Recipes from the Stanford Inn by the Sea

Dining at The Ravens: Over 150 Nourishing Vegan Recipes from the Stanford Inn by the Sea

Dining at The Ravens: Over 150 Nourishing Vegan Recipes from the Stanford Inn by the Sea


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At The Ravens, dinner is more than just a meal. It's a feast for your spirit.

Located on the Mendocino coast at the only vegan resort in the United States, The Ravens Restaurant at the Stanford Inn by the Sea embodies a mindful, compassionate, and sustainable dining experience in an enchanting and unforgettable setting. Now in Dining at The Ravens, Jeff and Joan Stanford, the Inn and restaurant founders, bring the Ravens culinary experience into your home.

Teeming with beautiful photographs, Dining at The Ravens features more than 150 delicious vegan recipes and shares the charming history of the Inn and restaurant, cooking tips for perfect recipe execution, and even inspiration for creating your own garden.

Discover one of the restaurant's most popular breakfast dishes, Citrus Polenta with Braised Garden Greens and a Creamy Toasted Cashew Sauce, and many others, such as:

Ravens Sea Palm Strudel
Indian-Spiced Polenta Napoleon
Mushroom Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomato Burger
Ravens Spicy Peanut Curry Sea Palm
Sweet Summer Corn Bisque
Peach Huckleberry Cobbler

Pull up a seat and find out why vegans and non-vegans alike flock to The Ravens for an extraordinary dining experience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941631652
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
Publication date: 02/09/2016
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Jeff and Joan Stanford came west to Carmel California to find careers in education, agreeing to help manage a small inn while looking for work. Jobs were scarce, the United States was in recession, and they found themselves enjoying their guests and rehabilitating the property they managed. Looking to the future, they chose to continue inn-keeping, and by 1980 they were in Mendocino starting a family. Joan ran the front, while Jeff remodeled the inn and created their certified organic farm on the site of what had been known as the China Gardens during Mendocino's logging era.

The Inn allowed both of them to return to their former interests. Passionate about early education, Joan trained as a Montessori teacher which led her to discover the power of art to transform human experience. She enrolled in psychology at Sonoma State University and received an MA, specializing in Art Therapy. Today she is a registered art therapist, collagist, and educator.

Jeff recognized that the "state of realization" that so many sought in the movement of the 1970s and 80s must come from a new relationship with life, beginning in the kitchen, where decisions affect the practitioner and the planet. He became vegetarian as a first step to honor all life, not only the lives of his family, friends, and pets. He and Joan sought to create an inn that sat softly upon the earth. They created one of the first "green" bed and breakfast inns without realizing they were doing so.

Understanding that their Inn was a destination, Jeff and Joan wanted to provide the highest quality food to their guests, which Jeff began cooking in the early 1990s. The restaurant followed their philosophy serving a whole food, plant based dishes designed to rival the cuisine found at the highest rated restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. They discovered that many cooks can create great food, and they created a co-creative kitchen where all are invited to comment and tweak dishes. The final arbiter is Jeff, but the process is dynamic and assures that each person in the kitchen can express their creativity.

Read an Excerpt



The Village of Mendocino sits above the Pacific Ocean on headlands extending from the western edge of the redwood forest, more than an hour and a half from the nearest major highway. Just to the south of the village, Big River Lodge, as the Stanford Inn was originally known, overlooks Mendocino Bay on property that was and remains a highly energetic enclave — a sloping meadow, surrounded by forest ridges and the bay. This setting — this place — has a momentum and direction of its own. As we settled onto this land, we didn't have a clue.

We did not come to Mendocino to start an organic farm with an inn, a vegetarian and eventually vegan restaurant, and a spa. We wanted to create a showplace: a stellar resort, with an outstanding gourmet restaurant, cocktail lounge, meeting rooms, tennis courts, and a golf course: all that it takes to create a premier destination.

Our desires far exceeded our capacity to achieve them. We had no money and had only been able to purchase the inn in part because the sellers loaned us a substantial portion of the down payment. They did not want to give up their residence, which they divided from the property. With no house, we lived in one of the inn rooms that had an adjoining kitchen. Occupancy was so low that the depleted room inventory was not a problem.

With no money, we began landscaping. This we could afford: our labor, a few plants, and the major purchase of a lawn mower to cut grass after the first rains.

Six months after we closed escrow, in the midst of gardening, Alex, our son, was born. He arrived on one of the few days in the history of our innkeeping that there were no guests. We were fully able to attend to the miracle of his birth.

We began to feel a custodial responsibility to the property, and the land seemed to respond. Joan, standing on the deck in those first few months, wished for a better ocean view. Along the old highway that cut in front of the property, 100-year-old cypresses blocked much of the view to Mendocino Bay. Shortly after Joan made her wish, on a calm, cloudless day, the cypresses began to fall onto the old highway. We later rationalized that rain must have undermined their roots. Whatever the cause, the trees granted Joan's wish. Much later, when deciding to expand and build, we were trying to figure out building placement to avoid killing trees. They, too, gave way unexpectedly, and not during storms.

Our first season came, and with additional funds borrowed from friends we began to change a motel into an inn, installing wood-burning fireplaces, paneling with real wood, and refurnishing. Jeff built and Joan ran the office, greeting guests and showing them to their rooms, all the while caring for and carrying Alex.

By the time Kate, our daughter, was born less than two years later, we had taken over another of the inn's rooms to serve as our bedroom. Kate arrived just after the holiday season. As with Alex, we were able to attend to her birth. The four of us lived in our newly expanded quarters with Toronto, our Labrador; Rivers, an Australian sheep dog; and Gimpy, Thumper, Stormy, Chessie, and Sebastian, cats who had joined us over the years.

The inn was changing, and so were we. Before coming to Mendocino, Jeff cooked and was known for barbecue and specialty dishes such as marinated seared roast leg of lamb; now he found he had no taste for meat or fish — a former fisherman and midwesterner, he had seen the suffering of a walleye pike, a chicken, and a cow. Friends asked why he no longer chose to eat meat, and he answered, "I can't ask someone to do something for me I wouldn't do for myself — slaughter an animal!" His awareness of suffering led Jeff to begin experiencing energy fields around people, animals, and plants. He saw discrete energies, devas, as moving light. Later we learned that a "line" of "earth energy" moved across the property, through the actual rooms in which we lived. In England this energy is called a ley line, and monuments such as Stonehenge, St. Michael's Mount, and other sacred sites are said to lie along these energy lines.

As we began our sixth year, we decided to "landscape" the lower part of the property. A pond sits above what is left of an orchard planted before 1900. The land had been covered with clay removed from the bottom of the pond years before, leaving a rough terrain with sparse grasses and weeds. Kris Williams, the son of the original owners, and Jeff double-dug five beds for biointensive gardens cutting through the heavy clay. Our goal was to create beautiful landscaping that also fed people. We were determined to do so without the use of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. We mixed the native clay with compost made from our continental breakfast food waste, garden clippings, grass cuttings, and llama and horse manure.

Gardening was challenging, and we adopted practices advocated by Machaelle Wright of the Perelandra Center for Nature Research in Virginia, and by John Jeavons in Willits, California. From Wright we learned to work with garden energies, or devas. From Jeavons we learned companion planting and intensive gardening. We set aside areas for predators and for pests. Gophers were "allowed" some beds and all of the ornamental landscaping. Every year, and sometimes several times a year, we requested that they stay out of the remainder of our vegetable beds. They did. At least, they did until Jeff forgot to ask them to stay away.

In our first year of ownership we had sought and received a coastal development permit for much of what we believed would allow us to become a premier destination. The following years we ran into one obstacle after another. Money was a problem, and frankly we were not ready. There was much yet to learn.

In 1987–88, Alex and Kate were beginning school, and after eight years living behind the office and small lobby, we built "The Barn" for animals, storage, and ourselves. Finally we could sleep on a real bed rather than the sofa bed in our living room/dining room/bedroom. We were not able to build new guest accommodations, a lobby, and a restaurant. The buildings were far too expensive, but we did manage to build a pool and a greenhouse enclosure.

Jeff focused on learning more about the human energy system and we continued working with the energies on the land. We brought Dana Ecelberger into the gardens. She knew nothing about gardening and began learning as we had, from doing. She, too, became aware of our co-creative relationship with the land.

We grew in our understanding. Suddenly, and there is no better way to describe it, we became aware that to live we eat life! This was realization in its fullest sense. It wasn't joyful; it was stunning.

Many of us eat sentient life, "knowing" life: animals. By then we were "vegetarians"; however, working with plant energies, we knew that plants are aware, sentient in ways not as obvious. Eating dairy provided no refuge from killing sentient life. Dairy products are obtained through breeding, which leads inevitably to slaughtering unwanted male offspring. Dairy, nonfertile eggs, and honey — all may not demonstrate obvious sentience; however, they are the products of sentient life.

Killing is killing. As supposedly highly evolved beings, some of us argue that eating lesser-evolved animals is all right. A vegan has no reason to be righteous. Plants are life and we may not be able to identify with them as easily as a cow or horse; however, plants live, reproduce, and respond to the energies and other beings around them. Humans may consider plants lesser than animals, but this is simply animal-centric thinking.

In our growing awareness of the nature of eating, it became clear that the planet exists to be savored and enjoyed — embraced. After all, we eat it. The cost to each of us is that we are responsible for caring for it — nurturing it — so that after 1,000 years or more, it is still a lovely, healthy place for the enjoyment of others.

We slowly began to understand life in a way we never had before. A veal calf became one of the most loving of all creatures, born virtually into a cage, giving his body to become food. And we had no intention to figuratively ask a calf or any other animals, including chickens, to suffer. In the United States, more than 260 million male chicks are killed every year in the nation's hatcheries, and 40 million in British hatcheries. We could list more, but the issue is to move beyond causing suffering, and toward joy — and that movement begins in positive action, bringing intelligence and compassion into the kitchen. Plant-based whole foods are nourishing and easy to prepare. Diners leave Thanksgiving dinner at The Ravens feeling buoyed, nourished, and sensitive rather than bilious, looking for the nearest sofa on which to crash.

We know the benefits of eating a whole-food, plant-based diet go beyond reducing suffering, greenhouse gases, poverty, and the guilt that comes with "knowing better" while ignoring what we know. Many of the illnesses afflicting us are related to diet, and paying attention to what we eat is essential for health. This is not obsession; paying attention means understanding how food nourishes, how it impacts us. It is approaching diet with intelligence.

The Ravens Restaurant is our response to this realization. We opened The Ravens in 1997 as a vegetarian restaurant consistent with our lifestyle, and after we became vegan, The Ravens became vegan. We choose to make ethical, healthful cuisine created from plants, seaweed, and fungi raised or collected in the most sustainable manner possible.

At The Ravens, we choose to serve a whole-food, plant-based diet, setting us apart from most other vegan restaurants in the United States. Many vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants rely on seitan, soy protein isolates, and tofu in main courses to replace meat. Seitan is pure wheat gluten and can be flavored and then roasted, grilled, or fried and can smell like and taste like animal meats. Soy protein isolates are nearly pure soy protein, concentrating the protein and with it, phytoestrogens. Tofu is the least processed of the three but lacks fiber. A version of edamame, or soybeans, is tempeh, a fermented soy product and a whole food. We do not use seitan or soy isolates at all. We avoid using tofu in a major role of a dish, relegating it to a condiment.

We know that the plants we serve at The Ravens are living and sentient, but they are at the base of the "food chain," and eating them reduces the amount of energy required to bring food to our mouths, along with the suffering of animals. Eating plants eliminates the middle animals. And eating plants has revolutionized our farming practices. We treat each plant with respect and allow, as much as possible, each to express itself fully by coming into flower and seed. Where we can, we pick leaves, not the entire plant. As the plant begins to flower, we quit picking and allow it to go to seed. We can't always do this, but where we can, we do. The point is that it changes our relationship to plants and helps make us better farmers.

The Ravens Restaurant, more than most restaurants, is about nourishing and enhancing our sense of living. Our purpose is to demonstrate that a plant-based, whole-food diet is not only a better way to "eat the planet," but it's also an outstanding way to eat: you'll feel great, nourished — fed — by dishes rivaling those at the finest California restaurants.

As mentioned in the prologue, we are guided by the principle to serve the highest and best purposes of our guests, and this cookbook celebrates that tradition. The ingredients in this book are not so much the produce, grains, spices, tubers, gardening tips, and stories about our recipes, but also the consciousness, the nature of the awareness, that we and our staff bring not only to the creation of the dishes served at the restaurant, but also to the creation of the inn, gardens, and programs that constitute the Stanford Inn today.




The restaurant at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, The Ravens, was named for the pair of ravens who took up residence on the property in late May 1995. They were the first we ever saw here during the fifteen years we had owned the inn. The raven pair played on our heavy equipment, squawking at their images in the mirrors and rummaging through our compost piles that we later moved to make way for the restaurant.

The ravens' arrival had a greater significance for us. Earlier that spring, when visiting Jeff's dad on the Monterey Peninsula, we watched ravens on the bicycle path in New Monterey. Jeff's dad nodded toward a raven, saying he felt a special affinity for them. If he returned after death, he told us, it would be as a raven. He died six weeks later unexpectedly. The ravens joined us two weeks after that.


"I don't think people realize what an unusual situation it is to eat food picked just hours before it arrives at their table. The food we pick in our gardens is alive with vital energy, containing more substantial amounts of valuable nutrients. On some level, I think people feel more nourished from our freshly picked organic food."


We think of ourselves as a garden with an inn, rather than an inn with a garden.

More than a century ago, on the hillside rising above the cliffs forming Mendocino Bay at the mouth of Big River, Chinese gardeners rented small parcels of land to grow produce for the logging community of Mendocino. We did not know about the "China Gardens" when we purchased the land that was also the site of the Big River Lodge and today the Stanford Inn by the Sea and The Ravens Restaurant. The gardens here have been resurrected and are now Big River Nurseries, our USDA-certified organic farm. Originally begun as a landscaping project to demonstrate the beauty of vegetable gardening, Big River Nurseries was soon growing produce for nearby restaurants and now provides organic produce, herbs, and edible flowers for the inn's gourmet vegan restaurant.

The gardens have been carefully doubly dug with raised beds to optimize square footage and reduce erosion. Planting is specifically designed to work with the natural habitat. For example, the animals, mostly deer, that would normally graze on the planted crops are provided with their own patch of food. This translates to a garden that's more in harmony and balance with nature.

Using biodynamic techniques that combine French intensive and organic methods, we raise thirty-two varieties of lettuces from seed, along with beets, chard, cabbages, spinach, radishes, carrots, strawberries, and raspberries. The garden also specializes in hard-to-find gourmet vegetables, including tah tsai mustard, edible peapods, and heirloom leeks. Planted among the vegetables are edible flowers, which are used in The Ravens kitchen as part of our signature garnish of each dish. The garden serves a dual purpose: furnishing visitors with fresh organic produce and flowers, while setting a thriving example of environmentally sound farming practices.

Working in the garden provides an opportunity to get to know plants in their habitat, deepening our connection with them and enhancing their use in the kitchen. We recommend anyone inspired to cook spend time in the garden.

The garden serves as a muse for the unique restaurant it supports. On any given day, an herb that excites a cook sparks inspiration for that evening's special soup or entrée. The connection our cooks have to the food translates into a more creative approach to vegan cuisine, allowing our guests to experience meals that exceed their expectations.


Our mission is to provide healthy, organic cuisine that rivals the finest Northern California restaurants. We feel that this is the path of least resistance to demonstrate that healthy and satisfying food, produced and cooked with a lighter touch on our environment, can be a wonderful experience. It is our mission to "seduce" those often suspicious of veganism by continuing to build on our reputation as an outstanding restaurant within a highly rated inn.

All food wastes are composted. All other waste is recycled to the greatest extent possible.

We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment, and we support sustainable agriculture through our purchases and practices. Produce is organic, some produced by our USDA-certified organic farm — Big River Nurseries. Our dishes are predominately plant-based whole foods, produced without dairy or egg or other animal products. We use only the freshest organic fats, such as olive oil or expeller-pressed oils, and minimize their use as well.

In the kitchen, our mission is to ensure that our staff works co-creatively and cooperatively to produce outstanding cuisine with seasonal organic foods. We eschew titles, preferring, instead, that each person see him or herself as a member of a team, which relies on all members' creative input to produce outstanding vegan cuisine for you. Many are graduates of the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City or Le Cordon Bleu schools found throughout the country. We provide internships for student chefs to help fulfill their requirements for graduation. Many interns have graduated to become members of our staff.


Excerpted from "Dining at the Ravens"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Jeff and Joan Stanford.
Excerpted by permission of BenBella Books, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau,
PART ONE: About the Stanford Inn and The Ravens,
A History of North America's Vegan Resort: the Stanford Inn,
About the Restaurant and Historic Farm,
The Philosophy of This Cookbook,
Tips for Cooking Success,
The Best Thing about Serving Vegan Cuisine to Non-Vegans by Sid Garza-,
PART TWO: The Recipes,
Black-Eyed Pea Cakes,
Metric Conversion Charts,
About the Authors,
Online Resources,

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