The people of NOPA Restaurant do heartfelt work. As Laurence says, their employees are “nice, smart and hard working.” They truly are.
On Valentine’s Day NOPA closes their restaurants so the employees can take the time to volunteer throughout the City. For us that meant a group came and cleaned up our dormant garden (dormant thanks to a band of hungry 4 legged neighbors that we hope have moved on) to get ready to plant again.
And now we prepare for another generous involvement with NOPA. Our Long Table Dinner will morph into a Lunch at NOPA on Thursday March 15th, 1-2:30pm, in the middle of our March Fundraising Campaign. Tickets and more information will be available soon. We are totally excited!
We are already in our 2nd quarter, with a new group of students and are they excited about this upcoming Long Table Dinner! Please join us on Thursday November 9th, 6-8pm for a delicious and heart warming meal.
Link to more information and tickets is hereor can be found by copying and pasting this into your browser:
Please reserve your tickets before prices go up or we sell out! We look forward to serving you.
Although we considered postponing our garden time this Saturday, it is calling to us anyway. Please come by anytime between 10am and 2pm for more dirt moving, raised bed building and weeding- or to just say hello. We’ll have some extra gloves and hats, along with tea and nibbles.
Then we will be turning right around and serving a full house at our next Long Table Dinner, Thursday March 2nd, 6-8pm. Tickets have sold out for now, please contact us if you would like to be on our wait list – we do get cancellations. We will let you know the morning of the event if space becomes available. Thank you to those for spreading the word to fill our table. More soon, we’ll be in the weeds until then – in more ways than one!
Happy February 2017 Everyone! This quarter our new batch of students are keeping us busy, inspiring us to work harder (and better). Lots of great teamwork and excitement is building as we head towards our next Long Table Dinner.
That’s right – Long Table Dinner8 will be on Thursday March 2nd, 2017, 6-8pm.
This is a working kitchen now. I stayed late on this afternoon to finish canning the last batch of grape jelly, made from donated grapes (NaStar Farms) and Barbera grape juice (Muir Made) – no pectin, so it is a softer texture – good for glazing sweet or savory items, or even as a bit of a drizzle on some cheese. There are more donations under the window – fresh quince which have such a welcoming fragrance – and soon will become another delicious preserve.
We’ve been incredibly lucky with the bounty coming into the classroom – thank you! And our students are tackling the large quantities with gusto as we gear up for our first Long Table Dinner in two years.
Here are a few shots of class over these past few weeks, a Jamaican themed menu from last week, and an Asian dumpling inspiration on another week:
What impresses me most right now is the very determined nature of our students. It is compelling – and it will definitely come in handy in the weeks ahead!
As we turn our menu discussions towards the Long Table Dinner, (LTD 7!) we hope you will set aside the evening of Thursday October 6th and join us for this fun event where we will turn our newly renovated main hallway into a pop-up dinner venue, for a delicious multi-course meal made and served by our students.
Menu details and a link to tickets to follow soon!
It is always hard to capture pictures of our students as we lead into the Long Table Dinner, it is just too frantic. But once things calmed down, I found a stack of index cards from our students, describing their most memorable moments from class that week. Hands down it was the making (and tasting) of the upside down plum cake for our sixth Long Table Dinner Event on October 23rd. We used a flat of organic Last Chance plums from a local farmer’s market, they were delicious, and indeed the last plums of the season.
There is something magical about upside down cake. You have this butter-sugar mixture that you swear will not become caramel. Then you place fruit on top of it, pour cake batter over it and cross your fingers as you slide the pans into the oven.
More often than not, the magic of the fruit talks that butter-sugar mixture into melting into a luscious caramel. It is an exciting moment as you invert the still-hot cake and watch this delicious mixture step down from the pan. If the fruit gets stuck to that pan bottom, just coax it out with a metal spatula – it is an easy repair job if you catch it right when it is coming out of the pan. We used smaller cast iron pans (#5), easier to handle when hot.
The recipe we used is easy to find (see below), which we adapted here and there, substituting some almond flour and creating a vegan version, using almond milk and applesauce for the dairy.
And for those wheat free guests? We sliced fresh plums, tossed them in sugar and lemon juice, garnishing with dollops of cream. Link to Simply Recipe’s original recipe is here, with our gratitude!
A beautiful Indian summer day. Generous, neighborly friends. Digging and watering. Our garden is taking shape thanks to many people, some of whom I haven’t even met – yet. Thank you, friends.
We are entering into our 3rd week of school and now that the “back to school” social excitement has pretty much run its course, it is interesting to see students in class turning towards getting down to real work. The biggest barriers many of them have are often around trust – trusting one’s self most of all, especially when you are doing something you’ve never done before.
I know how that feels when I’m in the garden. I’ve planted plants, but never seriously helped grow food before. I’m not sure what the final results will look like, and there are many influences that I can’t foresee and that I don’t have any control over. Toto, I don’t think we’re in my familiar kitchen environment anymore.
Trust aside, I am also realizing that once you get started, growing food has a magnetism – you want to see how those plants are doing, which on this weekend, feels much like that wonderful feeling my great grandmother used to describe when you know there is a good book waiting for you at the end of the day. Now I want to visit the garden to see what is waiting there too. How lucky we are to have this luxurious chance to learn in this way, with a safety net of great farmers not far from us should our yield fall short.
Meanwhile, our class will be getting our teamwork and cooking skills together so that when this garden is producing, we will have a rare chance to harvest, cook and serve this delicious fare to ourselves and perhaps also to our Long Table Dinner guests… in about 8 weeks, I trust.
I don’t normally post pictures of my students, we are simply too busy. Now that it is “Spring Break,” I should have my feet up, not be plowing away at the computer, right? I am luxuriating in my own way though, listening to the rain with an extra strong pot of tea and some (still warm) chocolate cake.
All I can think of is how proud I am of my students. Our young people (everywhere) are facing huge challenges and no matter how different we may seem, how different our stories may be, at our core we have the same basic needs. In our multi-screen based world, young people are growing up not only never having cracked open an egg, but more importantly, not knowing how it feels to be a part of something and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it. This is what being a part of something and accomplishing looks like.
Heat of the Kitchen is coming up to a few crossroads in 2014. We’ve been truly lucky to have the kind of support we’ve had – it has allowed us to keep our “work simulation” classes going, even though they don’t fit into familiar educational models. In this place we have created, where education and industry are thrown into the same room (with sharp knives and hot surfaces), it is important to remember why we are doing it the way we are. Because it is real, it is valued by our students, and it creates a lasting, common bond. Expect more on our views, here and on Nopalize, as we move forward. Thank you for your support!