|Kitchen Collaborations: Old and Renewed|
Some inspiring and energizing collaborations have been happening in the Brattleboro Food Co-op community kitchen worth sharing with you. In the last many months, through the guidance of Jon, the Community Relations Manager and Sabine, I have been following their suggestion to increase, foster, re-kindle and nurture collaborations with local community partners in the educational efforts of the Education and Outreach Department. It has been a true joy and delight to do so...to learn from Erik Johnson, Head Roaster for Mocha Joe's Coffee Roasters how to make the perfect cup of coffee and get informed about the politics behind this delicious drink, to create lovely recipes with Nancy Scheafer and Carrie Quimby from Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, to encourage long-time HCRS cooking students to become leaders/teachers to their peers, and to bring more vibrancy and accessibility of the community kitchen to the community at large.
Here are some examples of old and renewed collaborations from the last several months. In September, Nancy Scheafer, Health Coach and Carrie Quimby, RD from Brattleboro Memorial Hospital/HCRS Community Health Team, approached me to offer an adult cooking class entitled “Quick and Healthy Meals for 1-2.” Twelve people met over the course of 4 evenings to make simple, easy recipes for inspired breakfasts, wholesome lunches, nutritious dinners and luxurious desserts and snacks. The group developed a lovely sense of community with each other by cooking together, seeing each other week after week, and learning by doing together. The group was so spiced up by the class that they have requested another series which happened in January, entitled “Eat Real Food.” This series focused on building up a meal from basic, affordable ingredients.
In October, 4 female matches from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Brattleboro came to share an evening together at our kitchen. We made a soup with the Harvest Of The Month vegetables broccoli and cauliflower, and melted some chocolate to make chocolate-dipped dried fruit. Not one participant left the kitchen without a trace of chocolate somewhere on their face, arms or clothes as they exited into the chilly fall night. Several girls volunteered to share some of their own family recipes next time we meet for some more cooking in 2017. Thank you to Gina Graciano, Program Director, for initiating this fruitful collaboration and to Kimberely Diemond, the Executive Director, for helping out in the kitchen cleaning up that night.
Also in October, Katrina (KT), a kind, gentle participant in our monthly HCRS gathering led the rest of the group of students in teaching us how to make “Tomato/Mozz Salad with Melon.” KT created this recipe herself and through a sign-language translator taught us how to shape the melon into balls, season the ingredients and present them in an artful way.
KT is the third student from this class to share her own recipe with us. Others in the group have also taught us before including Shelley who developed and taught us how to make her famous chili earlier this year and Michelle who inspired us to make cheesecake, her favorite dessert.
In November, Linda Whelihan, the Museum Educator from the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, and I designed an art and cooking class for kids. We met at the Museum one sunny Tuesday before Thanksgiving with 10 kids to walk, talk and discover colors and textures in the current exhibit of beautiful paintings. We made an accordion book there, decorated it by rubbing different materials like corn husks, pebbles, paper clips, lace on a silky paper and glued it to our books. Then, we safely crossed the street and walked to the Co-op Kitchen where we made and ate Harvest Corn Bread sprinkled with oats and spices for texture. “Fun with Food and Art” collaborations happen every month.
I love creating new programming with community partners like the ones mentioned above. Not only do I get to meet and welcome new people to the Co-op, but also, I get to be a student myself as I learn from other experts in the fields of art, health, food and more in our amazing Brattleboro.