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Doron Petersan of Sticky Fingers Bakery – What’s In Your Fridge?
February 28, 2012 | 9:00AM

all photos: Jeff Martin
all words: Svetlana

As Jeff and I leave Doron Petersan’s adorable home (which she reminds us they’re renovating about 10 times while we’re there), with her, her adorable son Ezra and their adorably overzealous (and big) dogs as our hosts the opening lines of our article seem pretty crystal clear to me. They should say:

Doron Petersan is the kind of person you REALLY WANT to invite you over for a dinner party.

She’s funny, she’s super chill (despite some strangers poking around her fridge, IN THE MIDST of house renovations, book launching, baking empire growing, baby raising and dog disciplining, among other things) and EAGER to feed you. Over the course of the morning we spent with her, she tried to have us try EVERYTHING she thought we SHOULD try from her fridge: pickles, ice cream, coconut milk, you name it, we were offered it. Not gonna lie – it was pretty great. And it bears noting – neither me nor Jeff are vegan. And Doron, sort of famously, is.

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But lets start at the start:

Doron Petersan is the woman you can thank for DC having truly delicious vegan baked goods, both in her STICKY FINGERS shop AND now wholesale in places like Whole Foods and Mom’s Organic. She ALSO has a new cookbook (OUT NOW) “STICKY FINGERS’ SWEETS: 100 Super-Secret Vegan Recipes and a book party this Thursday, March 1st @ Sixth and I Synagogue. In short – she is sort of the poster child for doing vegan not just right but making the most of it.

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Her and her family’s fridge definitely goes to show it too. “I hate that it is black” she says opens it “It came with the house”.

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Inside, absentia of meat aside, is a lot of what you’d expect a cool DC family with baby in tow to have: the top shelf is a combination of

  • hempseeds, flaxseeds, other seeds
  • beer (Hoegarden on the day we visit)
  • coconut milk creamers (“we’re pretty big on Coconut milk out of all the non-milk milks. But this one is French Vanilla, which is maybe a little too much”)
  • some beautiful fresh beets
  • and salsas (“My husband is a chips and salsa kind of guy”)

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Right below it is a BIG TUB O’TOFU and A LOT OF Asian spices (“We cook at home a lot and my favorite kind of cooking to do is Korean”) from every paste known to mankind to kimchi (“One thing that is surprisingly hard: finding vegan kimchi”. Upon us stating our disbelief in this – since, isn’t kimchi basically just some cabbage and spiciness, we learn that most kimchi has a fair amount of shrimp in it and we vow never to not consult nutrition labels again)

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Petersan’s non-dairy offerings are impressive, one single door shelf contains:

  • almond milk (original and vanilla)
  • soy milk
  • coconut water (“I’m not too crazy about it, but IT IS a good recovery drink”)
  • more coconut creamer

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which inevitably prompts the question: “Do you bake at home?”. Doron just laughs and gestures towards one of the drawers. Which we open and find one of the wholesale STICKY FINGERS Fudge brownies boxes in it. “That’s how I bake at home”-she smiles-”I drive into Whole Foods and pick up one of our dessert boxes. I like to call it research, but not really.” Sticky Fingers has been whole selling for a few years now and Doron’s day-to-day routine now involves mainly overseeing the business side of things (“The really fun stuff” she smiles/winks at us). We ask how did they decide to go the distribution route and with a shrug she says: “If you’re a bakery, that is really THE way to grow your business. Just adding a couple of stores made all the difference. So we found a production partner and went to work”.

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In the condiment drawer among the more salsa, vegan mayo (“pretty hard to find a good one”) and vitamins (“I am always one of those people who worry about not getting enough nutrients as a result of my diet. Like-if being vegan is SO GOOD for you, why ARE YOU so pale?”) is a jar of Gordy’s pickles which Doron is, well, REALLY into. Locally (as in, in DC) pickled and packaged, they’re delicious, tangy and apparently about to be everywhere. The jar she has is a special packaging they made as wedding favors for her friend (“Just how cool is that? Pickles at a wedding?”) and STICKY FINGERS also carries their sweet chips (“They’re pretty pricey, but totally worth it” – she offers as I keep throwing a pickle after pickle into my mouth. I call this research too, and I agree)

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The Petersan family crispers are neatly separated in two:

  • one with bagged lettuce and veggies (“Hey, I know it is cheater’s salad but I can’t POSSIBLY be expected to have time nowadays to wash my salads” she laughs)
  • and one with all the fake meat accoutrement one could ask for: Yyes breakfast patties (“I better double check these are, in fact, vegan”-she grabs a bag), field roast sausages, field roast ham, field roast everything, organic tempeh, daiya non-cheese and more.

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“When I first became vegan, it was conscious, moral decision but then…non-vegan things taste good, so you a. have to keep checking yourself to make sure you’re sticking to the plan and b. have to find the best substitutes for all the tastes you’re missing”

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I ask if everyone in the family is vegan…”My husband is. And the baby…I mean, the baby is a baby, so he’d be eating pureed vegetables and formula anyway” she says as she looks down on Ezra who has been blissfully asleep during this whole process: dogs, camera flashes, putting out of food and all. Obviously, he is perfectly content with whatever his situation is.

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As we dive into the freezer and uncover more treats among the frozen veggies and baby food (“YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS” Doron grabs a box of coconut amaretto ice-cream) it is easy to see how the first publisher Doron met offered her a book deal. The lady is a natural born pusher, but in the best way imaginable. We’d try anything she offers. Mostly because it is GUARANTEED to be delicious (the morally right part is just a bonus).

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CRAVING MORE?: Follow STICKY FINGERS on facebook/twitter, visit their Columbia Heights Shop, and buy Doron’s book. Also, go here for the details on the book event on Thursday @ Sixth and I: Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the event, or receive 2 FREE tickets with the purchase of the book ($27.50) through Sixth & I . DO IT.

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  • Pami says:

    One of my issues with a busy and vegan lifestyle is the packaging and processed foods. Other than the pickles and beets are there any foods in here that don’t come in plastic or waxed cardboard packaging in this piece? You mentioned mom’s organic, which offers a lot of the dried goods in bulk and you can bring your own container. At least value-added products are doing extremely well….

  • pami says:

    i am extremely uptight, btw. when i say ‘one of my issues’ i mean one of many.

  • djbays says:

    A lot of the dried goods you get in bulk or things with less/no plastic packaging aren’t stored in the fridge. If the article was What’s in Doron’s Pantry, you’d see that kind of stuff.