A Connecticut woman who runs an animal sanctuary has turned to another passion — vegan and gluten-free cooking — to help fund the operation.
Kathleen Schurman, owner of Locket’s Meadow Farm Animal Sanctuary in Bethany, has hit the road with “Duck’s Truck,” a food trailer version of her popular, former Duck’s Soup Restaurant in Hamden.
All the profits from the food trailer will go toward feeding and caring for the farm’s 40 horses, nine cows, eight pigs, some 30 goats and more.
“It’s the easiest thing you can do to make people happy,” Schurman said. “It makes me happy when I see people smile.”
It makes her even happier to be able to feed the more than 100 rescue animals that live at the farm, most of them saved from slaughter, neglect or rescued from the animal industry.
Escalating costs for feed and hay have created financial pressure, as the animals cost about $3,000 a week to feed and that doesn’t include vet or horse-shoeing bills, Schurman said. They’ve also lost income from riding lessons because the horses have aged.
The farm has been funded mostly by the salary of her husband, David, 66, and by the time they’re done paying other bills, there’s no buffer or wiggle room, she said. About 5% is covered by donations, she said.
“We need a backup,” she said, “In the end all profits from this (food truck) are supporting the animals on the farm.”
Duck’s Soup, located near Quinnipiac University, closed at the height of popularity in 2008 because it was just too much to run a restaurant and a farm.
But the food made a glowing impression, as people still ask, “When’s Duck’s Soup coming back?’ ” Schurman said.
Plus, she’s kept the cooking interesting all these years because she and her husband are vegans.
The new Duck’s Truck, which will travel the state, is like an abbreviated version of the restaurant, named after a late, beloved Muscovy duck on the farm named, “Duck,” because it was the only name to which he would respond.
The menu items on Duck’s Truck will vary from event to event, but some of Schurman’s main specialties are wraps of tofu and other vegetables; chili; soups including corn chowder, carrot ginger, potato/onion, greens and beans; side dishes such as potato salad made with her special homemade mayo, waffle sticks with maple or peanut butter sauce dip.
Her scrumptious deserts include oversized muffins brimming with berries, chocolate cake, huge cookies of sugar, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin and more.
All of it is vegan and gluten-free.
Duck’s Truck sold out during its debut appearance last weekend at the weekly Bethany Lion’s Club Flea Market, held at the airport property at 695 Amity Rd., every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
She’ll continue there weekly until it closes in late October for the season and is booking with breweries and other events. She also does private parties.
Jeanette Savo and her family aren’t vegetarians, but she and her two young sons, familiar with Schurman’s food, came by because son Oliver, 5, loves the soups and cookies.
“They’re healthy and they taste great,” Savo said.
While Oliver ate soup, Henry, 8, munched on waffle sticks.
People trying Schurman’s fare for the first time said the freshness and taste was like nothing they’ve ever experienced.
“It takes taste to the next level. The taste of the herbs really make the soup and chili pop,” one new customer said.
Another customer loved the muffins so much she bought the remaining dozen for her daughter with celiac disease.
Schurman can be contacted about events at firstname.lastname@example.org
Schurman became a vegetarian 41 years ago, a vegan at some point after that and went gluten-free nine years ago, the latter in response to heart palpitations that stopped when she cut gluten out of her diet.
Schurman, who doesn’t preach vegetarianism to others, said people were worried when she went vegetarian and she heard to constant refrain that she had better be careful about getting enough protein or she would get sick and even die. Schurman said she didn’t count proteins, but rather just ate from a variety of food groups.
Instead of becoming ill, at 62, Schurman looks and moves like she’s been drinking from the Fountain of Youth.
“Vegan food is not exclusive, it’s inclusive,” noting everyone can eat it and feel good, she said.
She funded the trailer — pulled with a red farm truck — through a Kickstarter drive that raised more than $20,000.
Schurman said her decision to become a vegetarian all those decades ago was somewhat spontaneous.
She thought, “I love animals so why eat them?”
Schurman said many people are “afraid of tofu,” and associate it with hippies of the 1960s, but really it’s just beans — mostly organic soy beans.
She said it was Ben Franklin who brought tofu to this country after having it in Asia. He called it Chinese cheese, she said
“How hippie dippy was Ben Franklin? Let your vision of peace, love, happiness and Woodstock go,” Schurman said.
Schurman, an author of books about animals and a former journalist, said her first word as a child was “horse,” and after wanting one all her life, it finally happened at age 39.
She’s always rescued living creatures from the time she was a child picking up birds who fell from the nest.
Even today, there is no creature too small for her to save or give the gift of quality of life.
Aside from talking and singing to the horses and cows every day, Schurman does things such as picking up earth worms from the long dirt road near the barn and moving them so they won’t get run over by a vehicle.
She also had custom screen doors put in on the sides of the barn so the crows wouldn’t swoop in to attack baby barn swallows in the nest.
“My nature is to take care of things,” she said. “I see animals as equal creatures. I live amongst the animals. They have my heart because they have no control over their lives.”