The Final Week of Class! (July 22-25)

This week the students learned about our Modern Food System (which, of course, ties in  industrialized foods, too), but they also learned about migrant workers in Vermont, and how many of them suffer worker injustice on dairy farms. They also learned about efforts to return to a more sustainable, local food system.

Thursday was the final day of class. The students spent the first two hours preparing their family recipes, and then family and friends joined us for the feast and for the students’ final presentations.

IMG_5570 The layout: homemade herbed ricotta cheese (made from the stash of leftover breakfast school milks), Ena’s Bosnian Pita, Susma’s Momo Dumplings, Molly’s Frikadellen (German meat patties), Anthony’s Vietnamese Egg Rolls, Andrew’s Shepherd’s Pie, Kevin’s Buffalo Chicken, Laura’s chocolate pudding, and Elizabeth’s chocolate chip cookies. Drinks featured Jessie’s Mexican Drinking Chocolate, Hibiscus Tea, and Fermented Blueberry Fizzy.

It was the perfect way to end the class by sharing the diverse array of cuisines with family and friends and listening to the students present their personal food histories and how they will make changes based on the knowledge they have gained from the class. Susma, for example, stated that she will try cooking with vegetables more often as she likes them more now. Ena said that she has already written to Vermont state legislators asking them to pass the bill that will enforce labeling of GMOs in Vermont. She encouraged everyone to visit vpirg.org, the Vermont Right to Know GMOs site.

We are proud of you all. Thank you, students, for braving the elements, for trying new foods, and for having open minds!

And thank you again to all of our guest speakers and to Partnership for Change for making this class possible.

Class 11 July 11, 2013 Class Meal

“Today we made a nice meal similar to what [homesteaders] would have when they were settled here. Some of the things we did today included making our own ricotta cheese, butter, and blueberry jam. We also had fresh farm eggs from Blue Heron Farm and bread with flour from Nitty Gritty. Learning how to make butter and cheese was very cool. We also fermented foods which were very delicious. It added more flavor to the food which made them tastier. I learned that the fermented food introduces good bacteria which helps our digestive system.” – Susma, BHS freshman

Today our meal included homemade ricotta (one herbed and one plain) with the milk we bought from Blue Heron Farm, fresh farm egg (also from Blue Heron) frittata with vegetables and herbs from the BHS gardens and our ricotta, bread with wheat flour from Nitty Gritty Co., raw honey, homemade butter with cream from our fresh milk, as well as our wide variety of fermented vegetables from Monday and blueberry and gooseberry fermented drinks! A great way to conclude our week on homesteading.

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Churning butter. Photo by Susma.

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Prepping vegetables for the frittata. Photo by Susma.

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Making ricotta cheese. Photo by Susma.

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Our feast. Photo by Susma.

Class 8 July 8, 2013: Lacto-fermented vegetables and drinks

“Today, Caroline Homan, from City Market, introduced our class to the process of fermentation. The substances we used for our fermentation were our fresh and healthy garden vegetables!” -Ena, BHS sophomore

As we learned from Caroline, preserving food through fermentation is the process of converting lactose found in raw foods into lactic acid, which creates nutrients, beneficial microorganisms, and more flavor. Today’s lesson commenced our week studying the 1800s and homesteading in Champlain Valley!

Captions and pictures by Ena.

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To start with our thrilling activity, we got hands on with some diverse garden vegetables by cutting them up into ideal pieces to put in our fermenting jar. Some of the delicious vegetables we used were carrots, garlic, beets, peas, and cabbage! 

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Meanwhile, students were invited to beat some cabbage to make it juicy for fermenting (sauerkraut). Students were intrigued by the large, wooden cabbage beater, as it was a new technique for them. As you can see, Molly is hard on the job while having fun! 

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Towards the end of our intriguing day, Caroline provided us with a quick and easy demonstration on how to make lacto-fermented soda using two different methods: the whey culture, done by straining yogurt, and the ginger bug culture, done by adding chopped ginger into a clean mason jar with water and sugar.

Class 7 July 3, 2013: Field trip to Nitty Gritty Grain Company

“Today we went to visit a farm that which contains the machines that harvested wheat.  We saw a wheat farm as well. But the constant rainfall is hurting wheat production very badly. Most farmers need their crops to dry up or they’ll lose profit.” -Anthony, BHS freshman

As Anthony said, it has been a wet season here in Vermont and, if it continues without much sun, the surplus of rain may have detrimental consequences for our farmers. Some of those farmers include the owners of Nitty Gritty Grain Company, a grain farm that we visited today. They remain hopeful for their organic wheat and corn crops, and so do we!

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Heavy duty grain equipment. Photo by Morgan.

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The class in front of the machine. Photo by Morgan.

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More machinery. Photo by Anthony.

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During our tour of Nitty Gritty Grain Co. Photo by Anthony.

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The corn being stored to dry. Photo by Anthony.

Class 6 July 2, 2013: Soapmaking

 Today, BHS science teacher Richard Meyers taught us how to make our own soap. We used olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable shortening, and lye, but learned that back in colonial times they would have used animal lard and wood ash. Who would’ve thought that combination makes for a good cleansing…

After 20 minutes of stirring our soaps, we really appreciated the convenient soaps we have access to today. However, we also realized how easy it is to make our own soap!

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Photos by Sarah.

Class 4: June 27, 2013 Fire by Friction and Group Meal

Today we walked to Crow’s Path at Rock Point School where we met Teage O’Connor and Lauren Akin who gave us a fire-by-friction (using a bow drill) and song demonstration. We were all amazed at Teage’s ability to build the fire from such few materials and with the high humidity. Once Teage built the fire, we all took a moment to reflect and say what we were thankful for. We are certainly all thankful to have had this experience; many thanks to Teage and Lauren! For more information about their work connecting people with the natural world through relationship at Crow’s Path, check out their website here.

Before our visit at Crow’s Path, the students helped to make dandelion greens pesto using the greens that we found from our wild edibles outing and de-shell peas from the BHS gardens. After Crow’s Path, we went back to the school to have our group meal.

“When we got back to class there was food everywhere; there was roasted chicken aka quail and pidgin [back in the time period we were focusing on]. There were johnny cakes, oven roasted roots with wild dandilion pesto, raw honey and real butter.” -Kevin, BHS freshman

This week featured:

-Baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, and onions with dandelion green pesto

-Foraged pheasant-back mushroom and BHS peas

-Baked chicken legs

-Blue cornmeal johnnycakes with local honey

Thanks to Sarah and Laura for cooking the delicious meal while we were gone!

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Potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers and onions with the dandelion greens pesto. Photo by Kevin.

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Pheasant-back mushroom from our wild edibles search, garlic scapes, dandelion greens. Photo by Morgan.

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Students helping to make the pesto. Photo by Morgan.

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Sarah showed the class the difference between local VT eggs and factory farmed eggs. Photo by Morgan.

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A student de-shelling peas from the garden. Photo by Morgan.