campfire stories: at summer’s end

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments

Another month remains until the autumnal equinox, and yet in some ways today feels like we are at summer’s end. Today is the last day of Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp for the 2014 season, and what a summer it has been!

Campers enjoyed tofu pineapple kabobs during our picnic at Randall's Island Urban Farm

enjoying tofu-pineapple kabobs during our picnic at Randall’s Island Urban Farm this week

For campers and counselors alike, these seven weeks have been a transformative journey in the company of new friends as we tasted, grew, gardened, cooked, played, explored, and learned in the diverse world of food in New York City.

From a rooftop beehive that towers over the city skyline, to a pasta shop that has sat in the same spot on Greenwich Street for over a century, to an urban farm tucked away by a bridge on Randall’s Island… Butter Beans campers discovered a beautifully diverse and interconnected community of individuals that support our food system.

To the gardeners, farmers, market vendors, beekeepers, chefs, bakers, smoothie-experts, yoga instructors, mindfulness coaches, singers, artists, educators, foragers, and chocolatiers that made Butter Beans Food & Garden Camp 2014 so special… thank you! We’re already looking forward to reuniting with these friends again next year.

Chopping cherry tomatoes freshly picked from the garden

chopping cherry tomatoes freshly picked from the garden

To our campers, you have inspired us each day with your knowledge, curiosity, questions, and enthusiasm. We know that you will go on to do great things in the kitchen and garden at home and beyond. We wish you happy cooking (and eating!) as you continue to explore food that supports the health of our bodies, the environment and our communities.

Now at summer’s end, we leave you with the Graduation Poem read to our campers on the last day of each camp session…

Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp

Graduation Poem 

The summer is over and it’s time for camp to end,

We went on adventures, gained new skills, and made many a new friend.

Throughout the summer we learned to chop, sauté, dice, and boil

How to harvest crops, recycle our trash, and plant in the soil.

At rooftop gardens and urban farms we had the opportunity to work the land,

At the farmers market we bought fresh produce and talked to the Farmer about his stand.

We played in the park and tried to catch some fish,

And spent time with local experts, learning to make a famous dish.

Planting our own seeds and watching them grow was exciting indeed,

Making sure they had sun, water, and love… everything they need.

Our recipe books are packed with all our favorite meals and treats,

Experimenting with ingredients like zucchini, corn, eggplant, and beets.

At the park, at camp, in the kitchen or the dirt,

Our group clearly has more than one Food + Garden expert.

Look for us in the kitchen or in the garden this fall,

With our wooden spoons in hand we can conquer it all.

We say goodbye now but our memories will last well into the year,

Our summer with Butter Beans was full of good times and cheer.

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campfire stories: singing in the kitchen

Posted by on Aug 16, 2014 in Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments

What livelier way to brighten up the kitchen than with song, dance, and art!

As campers explored the many meanings of “food creativity” this week, we were once again blown away by the knowledge of the diverse food experts we encounter each day at camp.

To kick off our exploration of food and art, Jay Mankita and his singing partner Moti visited Butter Beans to perform their “Eat Like a Rainbow” Concert. Campers sang along as we learned upbeat tunes and silly dances about nutritious eating and healthy living. Catchy songs like “Try New Foods” and “Junk Food Man” will no doubt be stuck in our heads for the next week. Thank you to Jay, Moti, and his family for taking the trip down to New York for this special Butter Beans concert!

milkkimchiAn important part of getting creative in the kitchen is using what’s on hand to reduce the amount of food waste we produce and create delicious, nutritious meals to fuel our bodies. This week we learned about different ways to preserve the flavors of the summer through pickling – both in a sweet and sour vinegar solution and through traditional kimchi-making. Founder of Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi Lauryn Chun paid Butter Beans camp a visit for the third consecutive year, conveying her family’s knowledge of kimchi to budding Butter Beans chefs. Campers were so inspired by Lauryn that they were already making plans to preserve cabbage in the fall with their new kimchi know-how!

On Thursday campers ventured to West Houston St for a special visit to Raffetto’s Pasta Shop with our new friend Sarah Raffetto. Sarah’s great-grandfather came over from Italy and opened this artisan pasta shop in 1906 – their family’s shop has been in the same location for over a century! Sarah even showed the kids how her family cuts fresh noodles (made with just 3 ingredients – eggs, water, and flour) on a machine that is 98 years old, and still seemingly in great working condition. The campers took a group vote on what kinds of pasta to take back to camp headquarters and the next day Sarah worked with campers to cook up a delicious lunch with freshly cut noodles and homemade sauce. Rosemary noodles, spinach tortellini, whole wheat pasta, caramelized onions and zucchini, drizzled with marinara and pink tomato sauces… Butter Beans campers were literally licking their plates clean at the end of lunch!


After such an exciting week, we winded down with our weekly Friday yoga and a Butter Beans Spa Day for some well-earned rejuvenation and relaxation. Campers made food-based face masks of banana and honey and rested their eyes with some cool cucumbers.

spa day

Wishing the entire Butter Beans community a refreshing and creativity-inspiring weekend!


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campfire stories: celebrating the summer season with local fare

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments

Eating in season can be challenging in a temperate climate when the cold winter months hit. Green fades to hues of grey as the sunshine recedes and the growing fields of New York lay in wait of the warm days to come.

The summer sunshine we enjoy now is a seasonal gift that will ultimately last just a few months time. Knowing this makes Butter Beans campers and counselors appreciate the abundance of life around us and the diversity of local flavors available this time of year all the more.

Without fail our trips to the Union Square Greenmarket on Market Mondays dazzle our eyes with dozens of colors, from candy cane beets and purple carrotsto rainbow tomatoes and the brilliant greens of fresh herbs. As we explored what it means to eat local and in season this week, we were grateful to learn from wonderful teachers across New York City.


Body & Soul Bakery Founder Deborah and Chef Scott shared insider tips to seasonal baking with Butter Beans campers, who in the span of one afternoon were taken on a behind-the-scenes tour of the bakery, made cookies from scratch with the chef, and gifted fresh strawberry banana smoothies as a treat. These Butter Bean chefs used their newly acquired baking skills to whip up some delectable zucchini chocolate chip muffins the next day. We even got to stop by the Body & Soul stand at the Greenmarket to check out some of their summer items like plum basil muffins and raspberry mint sweet breads!

On Thursday we took a trip across the river to visit South Brooklyn Children’s Garden – a community garden made just for kids! Campers explored, tasted, harvested, planted, watered and then sat down to make a delicious picnic lunch of Ghanaian fufu and lentil stew. It was a feast to remember sitting under the shady trees of this beautiful corner street garden. 

During our Family Friday Potluck, campers discussed the multitude of foods they had tasted over the past five days. We went around the table and shared the new fruits and vegetables we had tasted that week. Cassava, green platains, lentils, dinosaur kale, curly kale, patty pan summer squash, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, beets…the list continued to grow! In the end, the total count came to over 50 fruits and vegetables that our campers in one week alone!

 Nice work, campers. Here’s to a summer full of adventures in food creativity, garden cultivation, and kitchen fun.








Until next week…

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campfire stories: exploring food diversity through international cuisine

Posted by on Aug 2, 2014 in Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments

Moroccan couscous, Greek pita wraps, Costa Rican rice and beans, Vietnamese banh mi… these dishes made up the Butter Beans camp menu this week as budding chefs explored “food diversity.” To start each meal, campers exclaimed “bon appétit” in the language of the dish’s country of origin (check out this great resource to hear “bon appétit” phrases from around the globe). As we cooked we learned about the country’s food profile, from commonly used spices to popular agricultural crops to fun culinary traditions!

Our camp “partners in the field” also helped us explore what it means to eat a diverse palate in new and exciting ways. Campers visited the Brooklyn Grange with City Growers to tour this rooftop farm where both a diversity of food and a diversity of ideas are cultivated! The Grange gardeners implement a wide array of growing practices to produce food in an urban environment, from composting worms to chickens to drip irrigation.









After a day of fun in the sun, Butter Beans campers hosted a potluck party with our friends from Harlem Grown summer camp. Butter Beans and Harlem Grown campers alike paired off in three groups to prepare the different components of a Costa Rican feast. As the melodies of the rainforest played in the background, the aromas of cilantro, chili, caramelized onion and freshly-squeezed lime wafted through the air. Teamwork and friendship yielded a delicious meal of brown rice, seasoned black beans, zesty corn on the cob, beet salsa, kale chips, and agua de sandia (watermelon juice). There were few leftovers at the end of this potluck party!

As we explored the diverse flavors of international cuisines, we also learned about the array of foods and flavors that New York has to offer. From locally-produced ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery to artisan chocolate at Nunu Chocolates, campers got a taste (literally!) of the culinary creativity New York chefs and growers have to offer. Did we mention that Butter Beans campers churned their own ice cream on a bicycle-powered ice cream machine?









Today we bid farewell to our Session 2 campers, sending them off with their official graduation spoons and homemade. We say goodbye to our new friends for now, wishing them a summer of good food, community, and sun-filled days ahead.

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