what’s at the farmers market?

Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 in cooking classes, cooking with kids, healthy food, lunch time, news and happenings, Recipes, seasonal, seasonal food of the month, summer camp | 0 comments

At the Union Square Farmer’s Market this morning, our food & garden summer campers picked out a handful of ripe tomatoes.

When we came back to home base, we discussed how we wanted to transform them into something delectable.

Some of the ideas they had were to eat them raw, and add some basil and olive oil, some of them wanted to roast them with salt and pepper, others wanted to sauté them to make a fresh tomato sauce.

We took a vote and the consensus was, fresh tomato sauce!

The tomatoes sautéed with the companionship of some fresh zucchini, garlic, basil and onion. After taking turns sautéing, we added the sauce to our freshly cooked pasta, and mixed it all up. We then topped it off with fresh parmesan, and sang our song to thank the farmers and the soil for our meal.

And then we dug in!

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how does your garden grow?

Posted by on Jul 27, 2012 in families, Food for thought, gardens, healthy food, home remedies, local food, news and happenings, raising children, seasonal | 0 comments

What image pops into your head when you hear the word garden?

After touring the various rooftop farms and gardens in NYC with our summer campers, we have learned that there are many alternatives to the conventional image of a garden. We are constantly in awe of the creative ways people garden and farm these days. With the advent of phones you can talk to, and cars that park themselves, these unconventional methods of growing food seem to be in line with our evolution and advancement.

Here are some creative growing ideas that we have come across lately:

  • Rooftop farms are sprouting all over our great city, and are inspiring lots of momentum in many other cities. Look out for a rooftop farm near you! This recent New York Times article provides a great overview of the projects going on at this very moment.
  • Hanging gardens are convenient for those who don’t have access to a plot of land. The photo we have highlight in our post is from our co-founder’s backyard! She is growing a plethora of vegetables for her whole family to enjoy.
  • Windowsill gardens are another fantastic way to grow vegetables. Use your windowsill to your benefit, and get planting! Check out this resource for windowsill gardening guidance.
  • Soda bottle gardens, a creative way to recycle your bottles! Take a look at this inspiring vertical wall garden concept from landscape designers in Brazil.
  • Woolly pocket gardens, a favorite in schools and backyards. You can plant all sorts of veggies and herbs in these fun pockets.
  • Wine box gardens, fantastic way to recycle wine boxes. Just go into your favorite wine shop and ask the owner if they have any extras leftover. You may be in luck!
  • Old pallet gardens, super unusual, yet functional way to grow vegetables in a small space. Vertical is the new horizontal in small spaces.

The possibilities are indeed endless!

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intuitive cooking

Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 in after school, cooking classes, cooking with kids, families, Food & Farm program, Food for thought, gardens, healthy food, home remedies, local food, lunch time, raising children, Recipes, school food, seasonal, seasonal celebrations, seasonal food of the month, summer camp | 0 comments

8161030847_e62134378cCooking by intuition is quite a different experience than cooking straight from a recipe. Recipes allow for some leeway and creative additions however, cooking without a recipe, rather an idea, vision, or craving, inspires room for experimentation and unique creations, ultimately resulting in a big question mark.

Some of us like the safety of recipes, and are more drawn to them, while others enjoy cooking without a plan, and guide their meals with what is present in their fridge and pantry. Some of us like a hybrid; using a recipe as a guide, and adding our own unique spin to those recipes.

At Butter Beans, we use tried and true recipes for our school lunches and breakfast items, however, there is a lot of vibrant experimentation that goes on behind the scenes in order for us to come up with recipes that our students have come to love and expect from our program.

During our after-school cooking classes, we cook from a recipe, but provide our students with room to improvise, by adding a little bit more garlic, or a bit more spice, as they taste their food and season it to their liking. We like to provide our students with a guide to their short but sweet lesson, so that they can learn about the unique flavors and textures of different cuisines. Our students end up eating foods that their parents, and themselves would have never thought imaginable!

During our food & garden summer camp we cook mostly from intuition, but still use a few recipes here and there as our guide. After brainstorming collectively on what kind of meal we want to cook at lunch, we write up a shopping list.

Our campers then get to visit the farmers market and pick out their ingredients. Seeing them take ownership of their recipes is inspiring, as they get excited to pick out the most unique looking peppers, or strangely formed carrots. Once their creation is made, they end up loving every bite of their meal, and enjoy the chatter and friendships that bud from sharing food.

What is your cooking style like? Do you like cooking from recipes or from your own inspirations?

Photo courtesy of Sunbeam Free Photos Art & Fun

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Flora’s seasonal recipe: Italian potato salad

Posted by on Jul 23, 2012 in gardens, healthy food, home remedies, local food, lunch time, Recipes, seasonal, seasonal celebrations, seasonal food of the month | 0 comments

557268_404383529620588_1275511543_nAn Italian recipe from my kitchen? Shocking right?!

This one is one of my favorites, especially during summer, when it’s hot out and cooking over a stove is just not as fun as it is when it’s 11 degrees outside and gets dark at 4pm! I keep reminding myself to enjoy every minute of these slow summer months, to take advantage of the long days, cool mornings, and magical evenings, even in the face of week-long heat waves.

As part of my summer celebration, I absolutely love making this salad. It brings back many memories of childhood, and tastes similar to panzanella, another fresh and fantastic Italian summer salad, with the addition of old bread, cucumbers, garlic and capers. Welcome to my world of summer!

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 handful basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of salt + crack of pepper

Directions:

Boil potatoes (or take the easy way out and score, wrap in paper towel, and microwave). Once cooled, dice potatoes into cubes. Cut tomatoes into medium wedges, julienne your onion, chiffonade your basil. Place basil to the side. Add tomatoes and onions into a medium-large bowl. Then add olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Let them mingle. Finally, add potatoes, and mix it all up. Finish with a gorgeous garnish of basil. Serve and smile…

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Apple chai ice pops

Posted by on Jul 20, 2012 in cooking with kids, families, healthy food, home remedies, local food, Recipes, seasonal, seasonal celebrations, summer camp | 0 comments

A creative way to stay cool in summer, apple chai ice pops! Our campers are still raving about them!

Here’s how to make 10 pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon of apple juice
  • 3 chai tea bags
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • cinnamon to taste

Directions:

Heat up the apple juice in a pot on the stove. Add honey and cinnamon, then steep the chai tea bags for double the amount of time written on the package. Mix with a spatula, then let cool. Carefully pour the mixture into ice pop molds, then place into the freezer until frozen.

Photo courtesy of thebittenword.com

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