Sunday, March 31, 2013

Culinary Exchange with Webequie First Nation

The Screaming Avocado gang are participating in another YMCA Youth Exchange with students from Webequie First Nation, Ontario - located at the A below on the map.

The students from Webequie head south to Stratford between April 21 and the 27th.  While here they will visit local farms and producers to explore where the food come from makes it's way to their tables.  Visiting Chefs will come for a day to work with the students in the preparation of culturally diverse recipes to strengthen their culinary skills.  Fitness instructor Erin Phelan will break the students off in small groups to give them skills to optimize their workouts and better their personal health.  Of course both the cooking and exercise skills will easily be transferable to friends and family.

Between May 11th and 17th the Screaming Gang head north.  Our friends in the north have an incredible itinerary that includes learning the local language --> Oji-Cre, connecting with elders, fishing, camping and enjoying northern life.  We'll be packing some southern food to prepare a meal for the elders and will do cooking lessons for elementary studentsExciting times and a great opportunity to make new friends from a different part of Canada! 

Chef to School Program

The Screaming Avocado Chef to School Program kicked off with great success on Monday March 25th.  The Program pairs local restaurants with elementary schools where the chefs connect kids to fresh ingredients and teach them simple cooking skills.  The 'kitchen in a box' created by the Screaming Avocado gang includes all equipment and utensils required to run cooking classes in any location.

In the morning Liz Mountain, food skills co-ordinator at the Local Community Food Centre visited Romeo Public School teaching the students how to prepare breakfast burritos. 

In the afternoon session Pazzo Taverna and Pizzeria Chef Gilad Rozenberg worked with Students at Hamlet Public School preparing pizza from scratch.  Pazzo co-owner Larry McCabe who joined Gilad added, "The idea is to show kids how to take basic ingredients and make a meal rather than open a package and stick it in the oven."

Gilad and students and Hamlet Public School

The classes will continue through the remainder of the school year.  Our goal is to have every elementary school connected to a restaurant.  Check out the Beacon Herald article on the Chef to School Program - Chef to School programs pairs restaurants, elementary schools

Seeds of Change Garden

With the help of our local organic farmer Ryan Bergman of Loco Fields  the greenhouse is flourishing.  Students are learning the seed to table approach from Ryan and the importance of maintaining the heat, light and humidity levels in order to optimize the growth and yield.  The greens are being snipped, washed and spun weekly for use in the Screaming Avocado. 

Uspide-Down Gardens grown in 16 litre pails grabbed from local restaurants are taking over the upper area of the greenhouse.  An incredible use of space to optimize the energy output and yield.

The trays are in place and plumbing has begun for the aquaponics system that will take over one side of the greenhouse.  The students have researched and are building the system with help from teachers and tradespeople in the school.  Soon the Screaming Avocado will be serving fresh talapia and greens grown together in a recirculating system. Check out the Globe and Mail article on the aquaponics at Toronto's Bendale Business and Technological Institute - What are 300 tilapia doing in a Toronto high school?

Photos from the greenhouse.....

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Food Memories

Food memories are the truest comfort food; an aroma that brings us back to a particular time, and the dish we crave when we need to feel love from the inside out.  

If we don t change the way we eat as a society, the earliest food memories of this generation will include microwaveable dinners and Happy Meals.

We're collecting early food memories to help inspire eaters both young and old.  Share yours in the comments section.  We reached out to a couple of Screaming Avocado friends.  Please enjoy.

"I have a very fond memory of my mom making us "mush" when i was growing up as a little kid in london (england). don't get me wrong, my mother is a tremendous cook and i've always LOVED her persian food dishes (she makes the finest "ghormeh sabzi" ever). but when i was little she would take a bunch of leftovers - usually, potatoes, peas, carrots and maybe any leftover meat - and mash them together and then heat them. it was the kind of thing a kid loves. and i loved it. maybe the least labour-intensive of all that she made...but delicious in my mind."  Jian Gomeshi

"A fond memory for me growing up was always planting, weeding, and eating our own food. Every May and June, my brother and I would have to join my dad with the hand seeder and go make straight rows to plant the seeds. Our favourites were always the potatoes because you could use your feet to stomp the seed into the ground! As kids, who didn’t love a little stomping? As weeks went by, it was our duty to get the hoe out and hoe away the weeds. A little tough love, and some kicks in the pants to do it, the pay out was more than rewarding. Digging up your first potato that you yourself planted, boiling it, with a little butter on top, will always be the most delicious potato you eat that year."  Laura Hazen

"To this day I remember the taste of a carrot in my grandmothers garden, I can taste a true organic flavourful carrot and it immediately transports back in time to summers pulling carrots, wiping off the dirt and crunching away. I remember gorging myself on not-yet-ripe apples in the orchards surrounding our house and waiting patiently as the flavour gradually improved through til harvest season!"         Chef Michael Smith

"My earliest food memory is cooking an egg when my parents were sleeping in... I turned on the electric griddle and fried it sunny side up. Probably about 6 years old. I guess it's time to start teaching my 5 year old! "  Steve Stacey

"My Food Memories are of my Grannies house walking in the door and the smell of food was always there Mince and Tatties, Soda Bread, Soups, Stews, Jams. The Taste was to die for.  I always wanted to put my finger in the pot to taste but did not dare.
This food was simple, not expensive just fresh and cooked with care.  A respect for the product; it took time but the results awesome.

Today I still carry those memories and principles with me because that’s my measurement of good food. A simple boiled potato with butter and salt good food is not expensive.

Many years after my Grannies asked me what was the food you cooked for the Queen like? Just like yours with more expensive meats but the same principles. "Simple is better."
    Chef John Higgins

"I have two early food memories. My dad left early for work, and always made sure that oatmeal was made for us. One of us would come downstairs in the morning and find the pot in the pot (double-boiler ghetto style), ready and waiting.

The other is the smell and sound of bacon cooking at my grandparents'.

Two things that resonate for me for sure.
The 40 Year Old Father