Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cooking with Hippies

Friends of ours invited me a while back to come visit them and help cook for a weekend for a training they were hosting. That weekend was a couple weeks ago so I thought I'd share some pictures. 

B and MJ went to high school together, which is how we know them. MJ and EA work for the Student Conservation Association as year-round staff. They actually met through the program and now plan and host trainings for crew leaders. As part of their job they get to live full time in the beautiful Delaware National Water Gap in a previously defunct YMCA camp. This lake is right outside their front door. Yes, I am seriously envious. 

The second morning I was there I woke up to this. It had rained the night before and was all misty and beautiful. I love visiting the East Coast. I get to bath in the lush greenness of it all. The few weeks of green hillsides a year that we get in SoCal pales in comparison; I hunger for it. 

EA and I, along with a couple others, spent Thursday - Sunday feeding a group of 60. It was so much fun (you know - if you think 16 hours/day in a kitchen is fun. Which I do. Yes I realize I'm Aby-Normal). The group consisted of omnis, vegetarians, and vegans, so except for the night we had an entirely vegan Indian feast we made at least two and usually three versions of each meal. I got to cook on this professional stove - heaven.

Peach Cobbler

We made breakfast, dinner, and dessert every day. For lunch we put out leftovers, sandwich fixings, and snacks and everyone was responsible for fixing their own lunch. EA was able to get dairy and eggs from local, family run farms. She also ordered her dry goods in bulk from the local health food store (the nearest town is pretty small, so the owner of this store actually works there - novel!), supporting a locally owned business. Everyone appreciated that she had taken the time to find local sources, to the extent that her budget allowed.

One morning we made Blueberry Strudel Muffins. We ended up with a bit too much batter, so I poured it in a pan and called it coffee cake. It was my first time using this recipe and I think with some experimentation it could be both delicious and reasonably healthy. Even with all the desserts and breakfast goodies it was by far the healthiest and tastiest "camp food" I've ever had.

They are serious about reusing, recycling, or repurposing everything possible. There was a bucket in the kitchen for all the food scraps, which went into the compost pile. The egg shells and coffee grounds went directly into the garden to feed and protect the plants. Empty plastic bags and containers were washed and saved for storage and lunch bags. There were no throw-away plates, utensils, or cups. Tread lightly was the name of the game.

The Part in which I Review Vita-Mix

While I was there I got to use a Vita-Mix for the first time. (As you can see I got to make a green smoothie! Despite how healthful the food was, I was still way below usual for fruit and veggie consumption, so this was really great. It was my lunch Friday and Saturday.) B and I had spent a lot of time researching before we picked the Blendtec and after using the Vita-Mix I am really happy with our choice. Don't get me wrong, if you have a "regular" blender either a Blendtec or a Vita-Mix will seriously improve your results. However, this green smoothie had flecks of green still present, even after a couple minutes of processing. I also used it to make hummus one day and despite the fact that it was a pretty thin hummus the machine still struggled. I had to keep turning it off and on to keep it from smoking. Additionally, the hummus was similar to the consistency I achieve in my food processor, as opposed to the totally smooth "paste" (as B calls it) that I get out of the Blendtec. I thought the tamper would be helpful, but it was more cumbersome than I was expecting, feeling more like an impediment than a help. Furthermore, I felt like I had to use it to get the blender to work well at all, even on reasonably thin mixtures, as opposed to a tool to help the blender along occasionally. A few more observations: it is next to impossible to get the remains out of the bottom of the jar, unless you have a very small spoon perhaps. The unit when all together is very high, there is no way it would fit under my counters and given how much we use ours it doesn't get put away much so that would be an issue. Finally, I like that Blendtec only requires one jar to handle both wet and dry jobs; it is one less thing to purchase and store. In summary, I continue to recommend Blendtec.

I also got to visit with this sweet girl. It is so nice that MJ and EA have jobs that allow them to keep her with them. 

Make a wish.

I had such a great time. On Saturday night we had a Contra dance with a live band. It is super fun, a folk dance similar to square dancing (there is a caller) but done in lines. It is *so much fun* and great exercise to boot. There was also a thunderstorm that night with lightning and everything. What a treat for this parched California girl!


Jen Treehugger said...

hee hee hee I love the title. Looks like you had an awesome time and treading lightly on this beautiful earth is what I'm all about. I know what you mean about hungering for green and lush land - I'm the same.
That Cobbler looks deee-lish!

Vic Robinson said...

The picture remind me of home. I am originally from maine. I love the east coast too!

Bethany said...

that sounds like fun. I love their view, too.

I love seattle's greenness, but I also love going back east. especially where I'm from (vt or me).

you just answered a bunch of questions I have about the vitamix - thanks. I have a crappy blender that I won't replace until it breaks. I'm mainly a food processor type.