Serving Up Vermont
Imagine opening up your fridge door and seeing all the jars and bottles there, from mustards and relishes to ketchups, salsas, salad dressings, and hot sauce. What if you could make these yourself, and replace those bottles with homemade versions with local ingredients that suit your favorite flavor preferences? And what if they were healthier, too, and preserved with an age-old method for retaining nutrition and flavor?
Welcome to the past.... and maybe the future!
Woodcut illustration of hot peppers and spices
Since moving to Burlington last year, I haven’t yet ventured too far off the main highways. But, finding a need to do a farm visit for one of my classes, I was forced to find a livestock producer who would let me visit his/her farm to take pictures and ask a million prying questions. Luckily, Kristan, one half of Does’ Leap Farm, was willing to let me stop by their farm in East Fairfield, about an hour northwest of Burlington (and a little way off the main highway).
(Photo from Does' Leap Farm)
Two amazing recipes from Jess Bongard of Sweet Lime Cooking Studio in our Summer Inspired Vegetarian class: These recipes take melons to a whole new level: Watermelon-Rosewater Salad with Dates and Pistachios and Green Heirloom Tomato and Honeydew Melon Salad (pictures below). Oh my goodness! If you have melons, make these. If you don't, why ever not?? It's melon season! Come and get 'em!
Ice-cold seedless watermelon - yum!
By now, I've had several weeks to digest the TED-style talks from the UVM Food Systems Summit on June 27. The last speaker, Sandor Katz, may have summed the day up well when he said, "Food is more than the sum of the nutrients contained in the food. It's about relationships: with micro-organisms, plants, animals, neighbors, farmers."
As we approach the August anniversary of the tremendous flooding in the Intervale 2 years ago that completely finished the growing season months early and had volunteers carrying out what produce they could amid rapidly advancing flood waters, I am reminded, potently, of how we are all in this together.
Postcard "thank you" from Digger's Mirth for helping to carry out crops during the August 2011 flooding
Few things make me as happy as cooking classes where instructors bring their mothers. It seems to happen more with our male instructors, such as the sweet Umesh from Nepal who brought his mother Uma and introduced her by saying, "This is my mother Uma, she taught me how to cook, and I am so proud of her."
So I was delighted when we had a bonus instructor in Hugo Lara's mother Julia, who rolled up her sleeves and got to work chopping and mixing alongside our beloved instructor as we learned to make a couple of Peruvian dishes with Vermont and Peruvian ingredients!
Hugo Lara of A Little Peruvian cooks for a City Market class with his mother, Julia
I've been trying to entice people to come to vegetable cooking classes for years. They have been, ahem, slightly less than popular. Until Jessica Bongard's The Inspired Vegetarian class, that is, where everything fresh and bright and green was on the menu, and vegetable lovers and vegetarians alike arrived in droves ready to cook and eat. The food was amazing.
The beginning of the summer is the perfect time to learn how to lacto-ferment fruit and veggies. City Market has been teaching these classes for a number of years, and this growing season we are alternating veggies and fruits every other month May through September. Got spring garlic? Stuff it in a jar with sea salt and water and watch the magic happen! You'll have a great salad or stir fry ingredient that just gets better with time!
Recently, I got to teach a workshop for the Burlington High School Gardening Club. These kids are phenomenal: passionate about local foods and motivated to grow their own, they are growing seedlings in the campus greenhouse, converting unused school grounds to food production, acquiring bees, and getting ready to erect a hoop house that they will jointly invest in with students from neighboring Rock Point school. Go Burlington students!
The theme of our workshop was wild edibles. We made ramp pesto crostini and sautéed fiddlehead ferns (recipes below). Need I say that the students polished off every last bite? Here are some photos from the class:
Sourdough bread has been made from cultures found in tombs that date back thousands of years to ancient Egypt. That's OLD! But wild yeast from local grain and air will do the trick as well, and possibly better, than ancient sourdough strands from times and places goneby.
If we simply combine flour and water and wait, fermentation will naturally happen. That’s the message in Heike Myer’s sourdough bread class, which ran in April and will become a regular feature in June forward.