Jr. Chef Helper Graduations & Reflections

As I watched the Jr. Chef Helpers sign our most senior member's yearbook my eyes began to tear with up pride, and I was inspired to share with you my favorite moments from this past year. 

This year I haven taken a step back from programming and focused on fundraising, marketing, outreach, board relations, major donor development and more. As a result, I get less hands-on programming time, but when I am able to step back with a new perspective, on how they have grown and developed together. In a group in which there is diversity in age, race, socio-economic background, and cooking experience level the lessons are endless. They initially bond over their love for real food by the end of the year besties and can sit and shuck favas beans for days while singing, sharing inside jokes, laughing with and at each other.  I see so much of my you self in these kids and in the community. I am elated that the Bay Leaf Kitchen community and network are so strong.  Also, the kids tell me that top seven lists are hot now - so here it goes:

TOP 7 PROUDEST MOMENTS of JR. CHEF HELPERS SCHOOL YEAR 2016-17 

1. Wholeheartedly welcoming new Jr. Chef Helpers to the group and watching the more senior youth teach them everything they learned the year before from salad dressing ratios to tasting spoon etiquette.

2. Listening to the kid's inspirational ideas post election night of how to support & strengthen the community. Then executing their most brilliant idea of cooking dinner for a local youth shelter. 

3. Learning how to smoke bacon, spiralize root vegetables, bake sourdough bread, and grind sausage together.

4. Coaching the Bay Leaf Kitchen, program staff as they created and executed innovative programming in the kitchen, on a foraging field trip in the park, in community gardens and on a the farm. 

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5. Adapting previous program models to create a new consistently sold out Community Dinner Classes for ages 3-100 to cook, eat, and enjoy real food together.

6. Thanking all the community members, volunteer, parents, partners, food producers, farmers, board members, & BAY LEAF KITCHEN STAFF for all their hard work and commitment to ensuring meaningful culinary youth programming is a priority. 

7. Saying farewell, we will miss you and stay in touch to are the first class of Jr. Chef Helpers who are graduating and traveling away to college. You are always WELCOME HOME to Bay Leaf Kitchen for a meal, a laugh, and a hug!

- Elianna

Seriously Local Food

As we near the end of the spring semester at Bay Leaf Kitchen, we have been focusing on foraging for our food. At our last community dinner, we discussed all the bounty the Bay Area offers us naturally along with safe, respectful ways in which to gather and enjoy such treats. 

We think it's so important to teach that nourishing, fresh, whole foods should be the ones occupying plates most often. In northern California, we are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful farms and bountiful produce, reminding us that food shouldn't just come from a box in a grocery store. It may seem obvious to some, but there are so many people, kids especially, that don't have access to the knowledge of how to connect their foods with the land it came from. We love local, seasonal food, and highlight those ingredients each and every time we break bread together. We use produce that's been grown with love, treat it with care and respect, and end up wth the most delightful meals. 

This week, we used locally foraged ingredients like dandelion, mustard greens, and nasturtiums to make a zesty pesto to serve with David Little's precious potatoes. We fired up the smoker, with help from Ted Wilson of Fine & Rare for a fiddlehead fern and sea bean salad with applewood bacon. Chickpeas and great northern beans were hand-smashed with spinach and plenty of locally foraged greens to make tasty fritters. We used herbs freshly picked from the garden to flavor a wild mushroom and asparagus farrotto (farro- risotto), which was a huge hit. Plus, a local seaweed and kale salad to energize us for the rest of the day. Lest not we forget, the beet oatmeal raisin cookies in honor of our dear friend and board member Alexis who was celebrating her birthday abroad! We were surprised that cookies lost their rosy hue when baked, despite being full of beets.  After a little post meal digging, I learned that natural colors react to pH, temperature, exposure to light and other conditions. If the beets lose their color, turning back to normal looking cookies, the base is probably too acidic so just a pinch of baking soda will help bring back their ruby glow. Lots of great teamwork lead to some seriously delicious creations at the dinner table as we came together as a community, sharing food from right outside our door. 

THANK YOU MYEEP YOUTH INTERNS!

This Spring semester we had the honor to work with two young women in the office and kitchen.  They worked on recipes development, teaching at Community Dinner Classes, outreach, office organization, and more!  As the semester comes to a close we want appreciate ALL of their hard work and dedication!

Reflection words from the interns themselves: 

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"Coming to Bay Leaf Kitchen was the best decision I could’ve ever made in life. During the time I have been working at Bay Leaf Kitchen, I have had a wonderful time with the team and cooking. From the singing while working, to the dancing in the kitchen, working with all these wonderful women helped me become even more of an independent woman.

My favorite moments working here have been all the laughs we have because they always come out of nowhere. Another one of my favorite things about this program is that it made me push myself to try new foods. I also loved it when we would have friendly challenges with the other kids.

Working with the little kids was fun as well. It is always a good feeling to see the smile on their faces, when they tell their parents what they made.

Things that I have learned while working here at Bay Leaf Kitchen are teamwork, communication, patience and to always keep your cooking area clean. These lessons were really important in the kitchen because without these skills everything would just fall apart. We had little kids in the kitchen with us, so we had to keep eyes on them at all times. Communication is majorly important because you have to understand what you are making, what you need, etc.

Overall, working here was very fun and if I have another chance, I will do it again. The people are kind and cool. The food is good and fun to make."

Learning to Love Romanesco

Here at Bay Leaf Kitchen, we're hosting our first-ever after-school program!  At the heart of every class is a generously donated organic CSA box from Eatwell Farm. The preschool and early elementary students come to class each week bubbling with curiosity around what we're going to be cooking.

My favorite part of the class is opening the surprise CSA box. The kids all gather around, bright-eyed with excitement as we prepare to unveil the contents of the mystery box.  After a ceremonial index-fingered drum roll, we pry open the lid; one by one we pull out each treasure and pass it around the class, stopping to ask if anyone knows just what on earth we might be holding. Each child touches it, smells it, and savors. More often than not, they are putting a name to this particular piece of produce for likely the very first time. We have an open discussion about the vegetation itself: noting the process in which it grows on the earth, identifying what part of the plant it comes from, and sharing some important nutritional facts.  After the contents of the box are revealed and prominently displayed on the table, we examine the day's recipe and solicit the group for any suggestions.

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We love to taste new things, and often pick a few delectable treats to slice up and share. The students work like busy bees for the remainder of the session, fervently peeling, grating, and chopping fresh produce all the way up until we have a delicious snack to collectively relish at the end of our time together. Despite some uncertainty of preferences at the beginning of class, in regards to the day's produce, by the time we reach the conclusion, nearly every student loves to eat, and share, what they have worked to prepare.

A parent spilled over with gratitude last week proclaiming that her son now loves and constantly requests romanesco. He would never touch broccoli or cauliflower before, so she was elated. It warms my heart to hear that we are indeed creating positive change by introducing and creating excitement around local, seasonal produce. Some call us brave to teach cooking to such small kids. We feel like this is a great opportunity to impact young palates and encourage healthy eating habits. The class is an absolute joy, and we are beyond grateful for the opportunity to share such a bountiful box of healthy bliss with the children each and every week.

- Chef Alicia 

Summer Camp 2017!

Have you seen our beautifully 2017 camp flier?  Designed by our very own Jennifer Brue and featuring illustrations by Nick Fullmer! THANK YOU, Nick & Jennifer, for your hard work!

What should we name our chatty chicken?

Now we would LOVE your help with flier distribution! Email us if you have time to help us spread the word and pass out fliers and/or help us translate it to Spanish or Chinese.

*Suprise thank you gift for all who help out*

BUILDING CAMP

What happens when you mix together a dozen dedicated volunteers, an amazing organic farm and 24 hours? Magic!

Last weekend, about 12 men and women (and one toddler, mine) gathered at Eatwell Farm to prepare the farm for this summer’s campers. Drawn to the task by their devotion to the children and mission of Bay Leaf Kitchen, they prepared the outdoor kitchen and built a water/shade teepee to keep the campers cool. Many of us also came to get a taste of what these lucky campers get to experience on their overnight at this amazing farm (and it was such a treat to get to spend time with farmers Nigel and Lorraine and their family).

We spent a lovely evening eating a delicious potluck dinner and, after the air cooled off a bit, sitting around the campfire, sharing stories and making s’mores.

Waking bright and early Sunday morning to try to beat the heat (and fortified with Nana Joe’s delicious granola), we broke up into two teams to build the teepee and set up the kitchen.

Working together, the teepee crew gathered and erected the poles, then experimented with different methods for spreading the shade cloth over them. The final product is beautiful as well as cooling, with misters coiling around the inside over a large trough for wading. This splash zone will be a welcome respite from the high temperatures!

Meanwhile, the kitchen crew had a daunting task! They moved and assembled tables, removed cobwebs, scrubbed the sink and ovens, and set up and secured the stoves. The end result is a great outdoor area for the campers to make their culinary masterpieces.

Many thanks to our fantastic, hard-working volunteers!

All of us there wish we had had a camp like Bay Leaf Kitchen as kids -- and this summer those just a little younger than us -- ok, a lot younger than some of us -- can have this experience. Bay Leaf Kitchen is offering its first TEEN CAMP! I would have loved this opportunity as a teen. There are still spaces open, so sign your teen up now!

- Juliet Spear (volunteer)

Nana Joes and Bay Leaf Kitchen Collaboration!!!

We are thrilled to announce the new Nana Joes and Bay Leaf Kitchen collaboration, a Jr. Chef Helper blend of delicious granola. This unique and delicious Chefs Blend comes from the many great ideas of young Chefs.  We had so much fun brainstorming, tasting, testing and tasting again with Michelle. 

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Granola designed by kids, for kids (and kids at heart)! 

Try a sample and pick a bag (or 10) on December 12th from 8am - 2pm at the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building.  Each bag is $12 and 25% of the profits are donated to Bay Leaf Kitchen programs! Order online at http://www.nanajoes.com/shop/

Days Two and Three at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Four, 2015

We have been busy, busy, busy, busy at Bay Leaf Kitchen over the last two days! It has been such a privelege to be in the Abundance Garden with this abundant sunshine, abundant harvest, abundant joy, fun and laughter. We are so sad to be ending our time in the garden for this session and are looking forward to the next time we get to have our Bay Leaf Family with us there!

In lieu of a long blog post today, I wanted to just share some photos with all of you from the last two days. 

Enjoy!

- Rachel

Day One at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Four, 2015

Its a bittersweet week when its your last week in camp. We are, of course, excited to be back in Summer Camp with a whole new group of kids but we are so sad that its our last week in the garden! 

Our first day started with a lot of SUNSHINE! We had to make sure to stay cool in this unusual San Francisco heat. We have all been being mindful of drinking water and staying in the shade as much as possible.

Monday started with a quick game to get to know each other and a tour of the garden with Cheryl. We learned where all the different vegetables and herbs we'd be using over the next few days could be found. 

We were broken into groups and then worked together to create our lunch of fresh spring rolls and wontons. It was really fun to see all the campers' different ways of folding their wontons and I was really impressed by how many each of them wanted to eat. Some of the campers told me that it was their first time eating both spring rolls AND wontons and that they loved them! Obviously, I was overjoyed.

As we were working on our lunch, groups of us were being pulled out to do something really special. Every Monday, Abundance Community Garden runs a Food Pantry where anyone who lives in the Bayview can come and pick up free food to take home with them. Today, our campers got the opportunity to help to hand out the food! It was an amazing chance for them to get to know some community members and some of the people who have been volunteering with the Food Pantry in Bayview for a long, long time. We felt really lucky to have been invited to participate.

In the afternoon, we were joined by Guest Chef Cat from Sour Flour Bakery. Cat was really interesting and dynamic and we learned about the making of sourdough bread from local yeasts and fermentation processes, all the way to the folding, resting and baking! We even got to take home our very own sourdough starter so that we could make dough at home.

Here are some photos from Day One. Also, don't forget to check out our Facebook page for more photos and tidbits from previous sessions of camp!

 

More tomorrow!

- Rachel

Days Four and Five at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Three, 2015

After a week of fun in the garden in Bayview, Thursday begins a whole new portion of our learning. We leave the city behind and head to the BIG Garden: a FARM! This session was our first time visiting Lone Willow Ranch, a Certified Organic Ranch and Farm in Firebaugh, CA. Shelby and John were ready and waiting for us and the kids poured off the bus into an exciting new world! Lone Willow is home to goats, pigs, chickens and over 125 acres of organic fruit, vegetable and herb production. The kids had their work cut out for them!

After meeting Shelby, getting a brief rundown on the property and having lunch (of course) we got our wagon and our baskets and set out to do some harvesting. We picked yellow wax beans, cucumbers, squash, mint, basil, and squash blossoms. We learned where the pollinators like to hang out and how to tell if a squash is the right size to eat or if its too big and should be fed to the pigs. 

We were all pretty hot after our morning of harvesting; what better way to cool off than to go SWIMMING! We splashed around for a bit and cooled down so that we could start our evening of cooking with all our amazing guest chefs. This week at the farm we had the amazing luck to have not one, not two but THREE guest chefs (and entourage) join us on the farm. Shannon Waters from Aatxe taught us how to make pizza and peppers stuffed with Lone Willow Goat Cheese and Basil. Tommy Quimby, also from Aatxe and the Bon Vivants, worked with us to infuse water with mint, cucumber and lime for a refreshing punch.  Chef Anna, from Three Babes Bakeshop and her partner, Lenore, worked with campers to make a healthy twist on cake that had zucchini in it! 

The meal was, of course, incredible. After stuffing our faces and cleaning up we all gathered around to watch each others' skits and musical performances and to eat some s'mores around a campfire. Once tucked into our tents it was off to dreamland after a hard day's work. Everyone was out like a light (after our visit from the mysterious purple carrot).

In the morning, we had a hearty farm breakfast with eggs, french toast, bacon and sausage from Lone Willow, some of Shelby's incredible house-made preserves and lots of fruit. We got camp packed up and had one last iron chef challenge where campers were provided with a surprise ingredient that needed to be integrated into their recipe. As usual, I was super impressed by the imaginations of the campers. One group even used their bell pepper as a bowl for their hummus and then chopped up more peppers to create a crudite octopus. 

We had an amazing time at Lone Willow Ranch. We can't wait to go back again soon!

For more information on Adam Allegro photography, go to www.adamallegro.com

-Rachel

Day Three at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Three, 2015

We really got to show our "chops" (teehee) on day three. Camp today was all about working together to create a super yummy meal that required our imaginations, utilizing all the skills we've learned throughout the week, thus far, and more than a few trips to the garden: TACOS! We started our day by learning, from our Jr Chef Helper Roberto, how to make the Masa for our tortillas. The Masa had to rest for 30 minutes so we all headed over to the garden to tend to the cilantro bush.

Now, you may not know this but any Bay Leaf Kitchen Camper can tell you that cilantro is just the leaves of the bush! Once its bolted it becomes something else entirely... coriander! We broke into our teams with one group in charge of picking green coriander branches for drying, one group de-seeding dry branches for toasting and one group pulling leaves for our Mexican Feast. The kids worked so hard and we had a ton of fun doing it!

After the masa had rested, we got back into our groups to make our tortillas which all had to be hand rolled and pressed with a traditional tortilla press. Each group also had the responsibility to make all the other dishes we would be sharing: roasted bean and corn salad, guacamole, salsa, rice, chicken and grilled peppers and onions. No recipes were used and the kids did an amazing job creating a feast using only their tastebuds and their imaginations!

After lunch, and some free play, we got to go down to visit Chef Kristin at All Good Pizza for a tour and informational session about the Bayview and how food comes and goes from this part of the city. We learned that it is thanks to people like Kristin and her family, that the Bayview is finally starting to see some healthy food kept within its community and they are just the beginning of the Bayview Food Revolution.

After some Q&A with Kristen and an informational session about our FARM TRIP tomorrow, we all pitched in to get camp ready for our last day and our departure to Lone Willow Ranch!

The farm is really a special time at Bay Leaf Kitchen Camp. I can't wait to see what it has in store for us!

- Rachel

Day Two at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Three, 2015

Today was a first in Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp history - we had four back-to-back guests come visit us! In the morning we learned all about honeybees from Cheryl and got to take a peek at some of the hives inside the garden. Do you know how you can tell which bee is the Queen Bee in a hive? The Queen Bee is the one that all the other bees are looking at and when she moves, they all move. (We named Rachel the Queen Bee of our camp.) 

Cheryl gave us a taste of the fresh honey from the hives! It was so delicious.

Our second visitor was Chef Kristen Houk from All Good Pizza right down the block. She and her husband Matt have been making pretty awesome pizzas there for the past three years. We were so lucky to have her come teach us some pizza-making skills - like why it's important to check if your yeast is still fresh or the benefits of weighing your ingredients. For our toppings we used tomatoes and basil from the garden and also some summer squash and mushrooms. It was absolutely divine! 

After lunch, the campers met Theresa from Treehouse Yoga. This is Theresa's third time joining Bay Leaf Kitchen Camp and we love having her back. She taught us how to focus on our breath and the importance of noticing how your mind and body feels by leading us through some fun poses. Check them out! 

Our last guest of the day was Chef Shakirah Smiley of Bi-Rite Market. Chef Shak had so much fun with us in Session Two that she came back for this session to teach pickling and preservation. We picked purple carrots from the garden along with snap peas from Swanton Farms to pickle. Pickling is a great way to preserve food at its freshest point to enjoy at a later time. 

It was a fun-filled day packed with yummy food, full bellies and laughter. Can't wait for tomorrow!

-Amy 

Days Four & Five at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Two, 2015

The last two days of camp are always a bit magical - the group of campers and counselors that have connected over the week and grown as one team, travel together to Eatwell Farm in Dixon CA.  There, we visit the source from which the food we have been cooking with all week arrives.  After getting to the farm, we explore the grounds with Lorraine. It amazes me that every time I am with a new group we see something different and exciting. This time of year (end of June) we explored not only the strawberry and mulberry fields but CORN fields. The corn was almost ready to be sent out in Eatwell Members 4th of July week CSA

After a day of exploring, enjoying and learning on the farm, Chef Eric Nyeste from Foghorn visited to lead us in a delcious dinner production. We made peach cobbler, fire roasted summer squash, sautéed onions, green beans and whole grilled trout. I think the trout was the group's favorite and all the kids wanted to try the fish cheeks and eyeballs. It was delicious! 

Friday morning started at sunrise with many campers eager to continue exploring the farm and meet the farm animals, chase some chickens, and cuddle with baby chicks.  We had a hearty breakfast of eggs, potatoes, french toast with strawberry jam (made by campers with strawberries harvested the previous day) which gave us the strength for our final meal, harvesting, prepping, and packing up.

On the bus ride home the campers and I reflected on what a informational, fun, and yummy week it had been.  Milo said, "My favorite was eating a whole fish, oh and cooking it. I had never done that before." We were also excited to read the great article "CUESA’s Foodwise Kids Go to Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp" by Julia Irwin and Ana Valdes (CUESA Interns) and see photos from the past two weeks in CUESA's weekly newsletter - we felt like celebrity chefs :) 

-Elianna

 

Day Three at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Two, 2015

On our third day of camp we learned about different spices such as turmeric, garam masala, coriander and cumin, and got to use them all in our morning cooking activity. We made chicken and vegetable curry, daal, raita and apricot chutney along with delicious, freshly baked naan bread to soak up all the wonderful flavors. The kitchen smelled heavenly! 

In the afternoon, Chef Michael Mauschbaugh from Sous Beurre Kitchen visited us. He showed us how to make savory crepes using wild rice instead of flour. The wild rice was pulsed in a food processor until it became fine enough for our crepe batter. Our homemade wild rice flour gave our crepes an unusual color and also gave them a heartier taste. 

For our crepe fillings, we chopped up garlic, walla walla onions, pancetta, and shelled English peas. Chef Michael also brought along Mousseron mushrooms which were the tiniest mushrooms we've ever seen! We also made a simple side salad of spinach and red cabbage. The crepes were delicious!

It was so cool to learn that Chef Michael started working in restaurants when he was 14 years old and started as a dishwasher and worked his way up. We had a lot of fun that day and many of us are excited to visit Chef Michael at Sous Beurre Kitchen soon!

- Amy

Day Two at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Two, 2015

Day Two at Bay Leaf Kitchen Camp came with more smiles, new guests and campers excited to go out into the farmers market. 

Our first guest was Julie Cummins, the Director of Education at CUESA. She taught us why its super special and important to shop locally and get to know your farmer. We also learned about the value of farmers markets and how they connect us to delicious sustainable food.

Next, we got to go out into the farmers market and do our own shopping for the morning cooking project. We explored and shopped in the farmers market and sampled a ton of tasty treats. We also learned a fun fact from the folks over at Star Route Farms: Apples are the only fruit that hold their nutritional value for up to 8 months! Yummy and extra healthy, who knew?

Our morning menu consisted of make your own Farmers Market Pizza. We used a ton of creative and delicious toppings like sliced, roasted potatoes, purple and orange bell peppers, rosemary, olive oil and much, much more. We also sautéed summer squash with thyme (from Abundance Community Garden) and basil. Chef Amy also taught us how to make sweet Zeppolli, a deep fried Italian pastry.... which everyone, obviously, loved.

After a yoga break in the park with Theresa from Tree House Yoga, we were right back in the kitchen with our guest for the afternoon, Shakirah Smiley from Bi-Rite Market. Shakirah taught us how to preserve produce in the height of its season. We pickled rainbow carrots from Capay Farms and sugar snap peas from Swanton Farms. Shak’s Recipe Tip: "These pickles are perfect for taco night! Have leftover brine? Feel free to pop leftover veggies in your jar or use as a brine for pork and chicken." We each got to take a jar home and canned a bunch to take up to Eatwell with us! I can't wait to use them in whichever amazing recipes we have in store for us up at the farm. 

That's all for now!

-Rachel

Day One at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Two, 2015

Session Two of Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp started yesterday in the CUESA Kitchen. No surprise that we have another amazing group of campers (some new and some who've come back after being campers last summer) so we started the day by getting to know each other. Everyone went around and told the group what their favorite food is. For any potential future campers who are reading this, Elianna's is ALWAYS crispy tacos. Feel free to pretend you guessed on Day One of Camp.

After getting to know each other a little bit, we started to awaken, and learned how to use, our Five Senses. Amy demonstrated how to use each of our senses with a raisin. The coolest part was that, when we were ready to use our very last sense, taste, and we held the raisin up to our mouths, we could feel our mouths watering! The campers learned that this is the first step in digestion! After, we broke back up into our groups and practiced what we'd learned with White Nectarines and Donut Peaches. Delicious! 

Our morning cooking lesson involved learning how to make veggie spring rolls, mushroom dumplings and cucumber salad! Elianna demonstrated safe knife skills for each vegetable we were cutting which was super useful since each recipe called for a ton of veggies!

To go with our spring rolls and dumplings, we learned how to make healthy fried rice with Chef Hollie Greene of JoyFoodly and the Joyful 12 Online Vegetable Cooking Lab for Families. We learned that you have to use cold rice when making fried rice because keeps the fried rice ingredients from sticking together and becoming mushy when being cooked over high heat!

Hollie also told us that, if we wanted to sign up for her amazing online cooking lab, she was going to give Bay Leaf Kitchen friends and family 50% off! Click here to register your family for the Joyful 12 Online Cooking Lab for Families.

After our morning meal, we headed to the park for some stretching, relay races, and two different rounds of tag. 

In the afternoon, we made peach and blueberry crumble with Chef Hollie. We learned that it's always good practice to taste your fruit before you bake it in a dessert like this so you can adjust how much sugar to add. If a fruit is super ripe, you don't need to add a lot of sugar! 

We played Foodie Balderdash with Maggie while we waited for the crumble to bake and then we ate our hearts out! Camp dismissed!

I can't wait to see what today will bring.... I hear there is a special guest who is going to teach us a whole new way to enjoy vegetables. 

-Rachel

Days Four and Five at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session 1, 2015

For those of you who have followed our blog posts over the last year, you have probably all noticed something. WE LOVE GOING TO FARMS! Furthermore, going to farms with 24 extra special, extra talented, extra excited kids, just can't be beat!

We arrived, on Thursday morning, at Eatwell Farm ready to learn and get our hands dirty (and boy did we ever.) We were greeted by Lorraine who, along with her husband Nigel and an incredible team of farmworkers and other staff, runs Eatwell Farm! We got to spend some time with Lorraine, walking through the fields and tasting as we went. Around every corner was a new and exciting treat and Lorraine taught us the best way to pick, smell, taste and enjoy every single thing we passed. We learned about seasonality, right as it was playing out in front of us and got to hear some interesting tidbits about how the drought has been changing the harvest for some of their most popular crops. Lorraine is a fountain of knowledge and let us all pick her brain about everything from how to tell when a mulberry is ripe to the difference between their Heritage Birds and other egg-laying chickens you might know.

After working up quite a sweat on the farm tour, we all joined in some messy, muddy, fun in the sun and cooled down with some water. 

In the afternoon, campers divided into two groups. One group got to sit down with our friend Kourtnii Brown, the Founder of Common Compost  to learn about one of the most important things that goes on in the dirt. That's right, you guessed it: COMPOST! 

While one group learned about living things in the soil, the other half of the campers learned about live yeast and how to wake it up and turn it into bread. Campers got to use cooking techniques like baking, temperature control, kneading, measuring and, sometimes the hardest lesson, waiting, under Lorraine's patient and careful tutelage.

With rolls in the oven, we were ready to welcome our guest chef for the evening and get some dinner on the "table." Chef Lauren Kiino  of Il Cane Rosso and Red Dog Restaurant, is known for her approachable, innovative and local fare which made her a perfect fit for a lesson on the farm. Campers created a feast of spinach salad with beets and peaches, crostini with fromage blanc, summer squash, mint and olive tapenade, Long & Bailey Spareribs with Lauren's famous BBQ sauce, kale and new potato salad, the rolls (made with Lorraine) and finished it all with a strawberry compote made from Eatwell strawberries and lavender that paired with panna cotta.

With full bellies we settled around the camp fire to watch campers perform the skits they'd been rehearsing throughout the week. We are always so impressed with what they come up with!  Then, it was off to sleep in our tents under the bright farm stars.

On Friday morning (after making a delicious breakfast with Chef Elianna) we set about the serious business of Iron Chef! Groups were each given a secret ingredient and had 45 minutes to create something, using all the skills they'd garnered throughout the week, to share with the group. We had some really innovative recipes this year. One group, who's secret ingredient was summer squash, used the sun's strong rays to toast some bread and melt cheese over the summer squash to make a crostini; they were a total hit!

After clean up, thank you cards and a final romp around the farm to deliver compost to the chickens, it was time to say goodbye for now to Eatwell and head back to San Francisco so we could tell everyone about our adventures.

Good times were had by all at Session One of Bay Leaf Kitchen Camp. I can't wait to see what Session Two will bring!

-Rachel

Did I mention that we had a professional photographer come up to the farm with us this time? Scroll through Adam Allegro's photos below to get a glimpse into our time at Eatwell Farm and go to www.adamallegro.com to see more of his work.