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!
My most memorable meal was definitely the pasta and tiramisu. It was better than the clam chowder and lemon meringue. The day we had the meal was very exciting because it was the first time eating the stuff we made ourselves. The feel of the room was very exciting because we were about to eat. The pasta meal was memorable because it was very delicious, especially the tiramisu that K, G, and I made. ~ W.L.
This is about the first time I ate clam chowder. I was in culinary class, sitting alongside my two friends. The meal consisted of grilled prawns, two pieces of bread, sauteed greens, and the clam chowder. The prawns tasted really good, the sauce on them was awesome. The greens, however, were a bit too bitter for my taste. I helped making the bread and it tasted good. There was also tiramisu, which I made the cream for and it turned out really good. The star of the meal was the chowder. It was delicious. The chowder was creamy while the clams tasted incredible. The taste was definitely memorable. ~ K.C., about our 11/7/2014 menu
It is time to tell you that in roughly two weeks, our main hallway will be filled with that happy burble one hears when people come together around food. It is my favorite sound.
Please join us for Long Table Dinner 6! Thursday October 23rd, 6-8:30pm. We’re proud to feature not just the fruits of our labor in the kitchen, but in the garden as well. And our tasty harvest just happens to align with National Food Day. Think of it as an extra good sign that it will be a delicious evening!
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.
We are having a Garden Work Day this Sunday August 24th, 11am-3pm!
Please join us for part or all of this time as we clean up a few overgrown bushes and reset the main planting area with new starts. We are hoping these little plants will grow into ultra-local and tasty greens for our next Long Table Dinner!
Our garden is located on the south side of our school, accessed by coming up our Hayes/Pierce driveway. Parking should be available in the south side parking lot past the garden. Coffee, beverages and snacks will be there to greet you. We are hoping for sunny weather, please dress in layers and bring a snug hat in case the wind comes up. We hope to see you there!
Stopped by school today, with less than a week before teachers head back. It is a bit of a ghost town, maybe due to the crews that come through over the summer to rewax the floors, or the summer program which “borrows” the building for a month but without any reference points on where things belong. It takes me a few extra days to put the furniture and equipment back, repaint the chalkboard (which I may not get to this time) and see what’s what. A good time to get mentally ready.
And then every year, I notice the reality that I may find things out of place like that ghost town, but it still feels pretty desolate once I’ve put them back. Being a school where students catch up on credits means people blow through here in comparison to a regular high school. It is amazing that we can even build the relationships we do with our students, with the shift change tempo of our quarter based school year. But I know the family feel of the school will come back, it does every year, a real tribute to the value of our students. And that means when they are not there, it is pretty empty.
So I went home and immediately got out more seeds to plant. A good cure for desolation. Now that I’ve figured out a useful purpose for those egg cartons, my back deck is starting to look like a nursery. Whatever we can do to keep things lively! The sprouts pictured are sunflowers (thank you Will Allen & his Good Food Revolution). Put 1/4 cup in a quart mason jar and you get almost a quart of sprouts in about a week. To eat. Small satisfactions really count on days like these.
I’m learning that the garden at Ida B. has had many people come through and grow food – from beautiful examples for after school programs to intentionally farming to see how much will grow. The amount of donated hours put in, are just amazing and humbling. It has been hard to find a way to consistently support this important effort in the chaotic nature of our school.
So it was with some fear that I ventured into the garden towards the end of June to help Stephen, who has been still hanging in there with this garden since NOPA owners and employees came through and really cleaned things up a few years ago. He is out there for so many good reasons, and sets one of those examples that will keep me humble – and grateful.
Why fear? Well, truth be told, I love growing food, but given the choice between gardening and cooking, you will find me where I’ve had more success, the kitchen. Also, having been at Ida B. for over 5 years, I’ve learned that summer on this hill is reminiscent of those scenes of stormy seas, with seamen braving the force of nature at the prow of their wavering ship. You stand at the top of this garden and have to hold on, the wind is so strong. But Stephen has plans this year, do you see those wooden boxes, patiently waiting for starts to protect? I think there is some magic going on down there, to work with the literal forces of nature. Magic that our school needs to learn how to support more this time. I’m realizing that whether or not I have a green thumb, it’s time to spend more efforts in the garden and prepare our students for the importance of growing our own food. And after a few weeks away, I’m eager to see what it looks like now. More soon.