Week 2, 2014: Middle Eastern Cuisine

We began our tour of the Middle Eastern cuisine today by exploring the delicacies of Lebanon! But before we got to start cooking our delicious food, we ventured out into the garden to learn a little about where our food comes from and the hard work that goes into growing it. We met with two of our Master Gardeners, Ms. Aaron and Ms. Kristen who gave us a grand tour of the garden and taught us all about the different tools one should use when gardening. We even got introduced to the garden’s chickens!


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Next, we got the chance to plant some seeds for ourselves! We formed furrows in the soil and planted different seeds around the garden including radishes, beets, and edamame! Even though we won’t be able to see the seeds grow into yummy food this week, it’s exciting to be a part of the beginning process of growing food.

 

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We then walked back up to the University and headed to the food lab where we learned all about knife skills and kitchen safety. We read through our recipes for the morning and got straight to work! The food we made in the morning turned into our lunch which included Chicken Pecan Bulgur Cakes with Cilantro Pesto, Cantaloupe Smoothies, and Fattoush Salad. It was definitely rewarding to be able to create our own Lebanese feast to eat for lunch!

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How could you not enjoy this colorful and healthy masterpiece!?!?

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We then headed outside for a little physical activity before getting back into the kitchen. We played “Mother May I” and “Frogger” and a couple of the campers even got artistic and made a house in the grass 🙂

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After playing outside, it was back to the kitchen to cook some more Lebanese cuisine! In the afternoon, we made Graybeh, which are Lebanese shortbread cookies, and Hummus which were all extremely tasty.

 

 

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We’re all super excited for our field trip tomorrow at Kraut Run and then for exploring further into Middle Eastern delicacies 🙂 See you all tomorrow!

Tuesday:

Today was field trip day at Culinary Camp to delve deeper into the wonders of organic farming! We headed out to The Farm at Kraut Run first thing in the morning. It was a nice cool day to be on a farm and even though we experienced a few small rain showers, we avoided any real down pours, which made the day all that much better. Not only did we get to explore the different animals on the farm, but we learned all about the health differences in eating animals from organic farms where they live outside and eat healthy foods without antibiotics and the animals stuck in warehouses that are processed with chemicals.  Farmer Chris took us on a tour of the farm, and taught us all about composting. We learned that the most important start to an organic farm is nice organic soil, which is where the compost pile comes in handy. The compost had all kinds of living organisms that make the plants and ultimately the food more nutritious for us to eat. Farmer Chris also let us examine a fresh goose egg, hatched this morning and talk about the differences in color than that of a store-bought egg which spend plenty of time in transit.

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Then it was time to experience exactly what hard work it is to be a farmer and get to be a part of the organic farming process! Farmer Chris taught us all about potato plants and exactly how they grow. He showed us that piling up and patting down straw around the potato plants helps them to continue growing in a healthy and natural way so that the plants produce more potatoes! He also explained the difference between straw and hay and why we want to use straw for this particular process. We soon learned how much hard work is actually put into the food we eat.

 

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After all of our hard work, we got to feed the pigs as our final activity on the farm! The piglets and the parents went crazy over the weeds we were giving them.

 

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After our exciting morning on the farm, we headed to the park across the street and had a picnic lunch with nature!

 

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When we returned to SLU, we were all pretty exhausted. We cooled down with a few games upstairs and then started cooking again. Today we explored the cultures of Egypt and Greece. But first, we made Labneh, or Lebanese strained yogurt cheese, which we didn’t get around to making yesterday. We then made Israeli Havlah (Tahini candy), Batata Mtabbli ma’ lubyi (Egyptian-style potato and green bean salad), and we decided to save the Dolmades (Greek stuffed grape leaves) for tomorrow. See you all tomorrow, campers, for Disability Awareness Day!

Wednesday:

Today we began the day again in the SLU garden. We celebrated Disability Awareness Day by listening to an employee from Paraquad, Diane, talk about her experience with Cerebral Palsy. She explained how she has become independent through the help of Paraquad and how she helps others with disabilities to live their lives just like everyone else. We learned about how to treat those with a disability: just like any other person! Making fun of those with a disability or treating them like they are different from anyone else is extremely offensive, and Diane talked a little about her experiences with being looked at differently or made fun of. Then the campers got to use different equipment to see what it would be like to have a disability. The campers tried out rocker blades in an arm brace, leg braces, visually impairing eye goggles, and wheelchairs.

 

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The campers then came inside and made their own lunch! They explored Israel and made Chicken Shawarma Sandwiches and Kibbutz (Israeli Vegetable Salad). What a delicious homemade lunch!

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We then headed outside and enjoyed some physical activity before coming back into the food lab to end our day making some more delicious Middle Eastern foods. They made pita bread, halvah cheesecake, and dolmades (greek stuffed grape leaves).

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Thursday:

Today began in the garden with Herb Day! We took a tour of the herb garden and not only learned what all the herbs were, but got to taste them, too! We also chose a few herb to put into a planter to take home to nurture and help grow. We also made herb butter and herb scrubs. We learned about all the numerous ways herbs can be used and enjoyed all the delicious flavors as well.

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We then headed up to the food lab to cook until lunch time. We learned all about Campus Kitchens, which is an organization at SLU run out of one of our dorm buildings, Reinert Hall. Campus Kitchens provides food for those in the St. Louis Midtown area who cannot provide it for themselves. We got to cook and package the meals for these people! We made chicken pita wraps, lemon blueberry bread, and also packaged up carrots and humus for them Not only was it fun to cook the meals, but it’s great to know that we are making a difference in someone else’s life who may not be eating anything that day except for the food that we are providing them with.

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After cooking, we ate lunch and headed over to Reinert Hall to take a tour of Campus Kitchens! We learned even more about the organization and got to see where all the food is usually made for those in the area. After the tour, we headed to the pool to end a great day with some swimming!

Friday:

Friday, our final day of the week at camp, began in the garden for one last time! Friday means HARVEST DAY at camp! We took a field walk through the garden and harvested all kinds of delicious things to sell later at the Farmer’s Stand. We had an amazing harvest and then headed back inside to cook all day long and prepare for the appetizer party. We made lamb kebabs, salad-e haveej ba zireh (Carrot and cumin salad), and salad-e haft miveh (seven fruit salad) to eat for lunch! The lunch was delicious, and so many of the campers discovered for the first time that they actually do like lamb! We had some physical activity outside and then went back to the food lab to finish up our final recipes. We made Lohz (Syrian spiced roasted almonds), ablama (Syrian zucchini stuffed with lamb and pine nuts), and then prepared the rest of the food we made throughout the week for the party. Then the celebration ensued and we had an amazing time eating the delicious Middle Eastern food we created this week! Thanks for such a fun and exciting week, campers!IMG_3558

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