Because the 4th of July fell on a Monday this year, our program took an extra-long weekend for the holiday. Along with the Monday off, Kids on Campus also took a hiatus on Tuesday. This means we only have the kids for three days this week! And what a busy three days they have been!
Wednesday morning started off with a chewy homemade granola bar, served up with fresh apple slices. Filled with fiber-rich whole-grain oats, sweet local honey, and dried currants, these granola bars more resembled a tasty, nutritious cookie, and what a fantastic way to start the week!
Many people have been asking us if we have a menu that we can provide. We are very fortunate to receive a large percentage of our food supplies from sources like the Donation Station at the Athens Farmers Market and the Chesterhill Produce Auction. The nature of these places is that what is most amply available is that produce which is directly in season. Sometimes, we plan a meal for one fruit or vegetable (say, zucchini) but instead get a bushel of something else (say, corn) through a donation - we then adjust our schedule accordingly.
This is exactly what happened yesterday! We showed up Wednesday morning with an enormous bag in tow containing 75 ears of corn, fresh from a local farmer at the Chesterhill Produce Auction! Lunch on Wednesday was "Happy Cow Burgers," a black bean patty mixed with other fresh veggies and savory spices and served on a Crumbs honey-wheat sandwich bun. Originally, we had planned to make oven potato fries with them, but who can turn down farm-fresh corn in July? The kids loved it too, and many were begging for seconds (luckily, we had ears of corn coming out our, well, ears!). We're also continuing to get feedback and refine our recipes, so I think things will just get better and better!
Although us VISTAs and our KoC leaders have been busy bees in the kitchen, don't worry - we've been putting the kids to work, also! Two groups helped us roll out tortillas this week, and Team 3 almost singlehandedly made today's carrot salad that we served with lunch. Every team has also been enthusiastic helpers after lunch in the kitchen, doing dishes, sweeping, and scrubbing - all things that are very important for keeping a kitchen functional!
This morning's breakfast was a new item, so the students had to be slightly more adventurous than usual, but I'm happy to say most of them rose to the challenge! Dubbed Three Bears Porridge, this dish centered on locally-grown spelt berries. Spelt berries, similar to wheat berries, are the fresh kernel of the grain, which once dried can be ground into flour. If you cook it, though, similarly to how you would cook rice or any other grain, it plumps up and can be used in any number of dishes! I have used spelt berries in savory dishes, or in place of rice in a dinner dish, but this morning we simmered it in apple juice and mixed in plenty of local honey & maple syrup, and 30 cups of fresh berries and fruit. Thanks to generous farmers at the farmers market, we had a rainbow of blueberries and peaches awaiting us this morning!
For lunch today, we stuffed homemade tortillas (made in part with whole-spelt flour) with a savory mixture of black beans, corn, rice, and salsa, finished off with a healthy amount of cheese and mixed greens, and baked them until they were warm and toasty all over. I had a chance during what is usually a hectic lunch hour to sit and talk with some of the kids while they were eating, and I really enjoyed that.
Overall, we continue to be impressed with the campers' collective interest in what we're eating and enthusiasm for being involved in the process. However, I am certainly open to suggestions for any more creative ways to liven up the food and make it the presentation more engaging and interesting to the kids while also being educational.
I'm excited for tomorrow's breakfast and lunch - I think that both will be very popular. I won't divulge too much, but breakfast involves peanut butter and lunch involves melty cheese! Who could argue with that?
(Here are a few links to other things to do with spelt berries:
Carrot Raisin Spelt Berry Salad with Cumin and Cilantro
Apple and Spelt Berry Salad
I'll post our spelt berry recipe as soon as I get my hands on it!