Bite of Brainfood Blog

Maximizing Garden Harvests: Pest Management Tips and Commonly Overlooked Delectables

                                                   

The garden boasts exciting new harvests after months of spring greens, kale and carrots. Strawberries are ripening, raspberries are reddening, and snap peas are practically popping off the vines even as their plants continue to climb the trellis towards the sun. 

But beware, we gardeners are not the only ones excited about the flourishing abundance! Constant vigilance is the surest way to ensure those pesky pests don’t eat all our hard work. Consider including the following tasks in your garden routine if you don’t already have a defense strategy employed:

Kitchen All Stars Graduation!

    
Last Thursday, we celebrated the end of Kitchen All Stars with our annual Chef’s Challenge cooking competition and graduation. We welcomed not only all of our Kitchen All Stars students, but also family and friends, Weekly Classroom Assistants from every site and section of Kitchen All Stars, lots of special event volunteers from Corporate Executive Board, and three guest judges: Sonny Goyal (The Advisory Board Company), Jen Koide (Blackboard) and Jennifer McDivitt (Poste Moderne Brasserie). It’s always so special to welcome community partners to get a taste of our programs, see all of our fabulous Weekly Classroom Assistants in one place, and, of course, see the youth in our programs sharing Brainfood with family and friends. It was a very full, busy, and festive afternoon!
                         

A Whole New (Garden) World

 

Look at our garden, isn’t it neat?  Wouldn’t you think our collection’s complete?

We’ve got garlic and kale a-plenty… 

We’ve got radish and pumpkins galore… 

You want pole beans? We’ve got twenty…

 

 

 

 

 

But who cares? No big deal. We want more….

  

 

                  

Stepping into Food Entrepreneurship: Brainfood Homegrown at Union Market

What D.C. activities did you get into over the weekend? Have a picnic at the tidal basin? Stroll through the drum circle at Malcolm X Park? Visit a museum on the national mall? While you were enjoying the gorgeous spring weather and all the unique outings D.C. has to offer on Saturday and Sunday, you may not have even realized that Brainfood was up to some exciting D.C. adventures of our own. On Saturday May 2nd, Brainfood Homegrown opened its very own market stand in the ever-tantalizing and delicious Union Market in Northeast D.C.

Wontons, Pickles, and More: Guest Chefs in the Kitchen!

Kitchen All Stars participants have been hard at work all year advancing their cooking prowess, building healthy group dynamics with their classmates, and developing leadership skills. As we approach the final weeks of afterschool programming, it’s the perfect time to bring in culinary professionals who graciously offer their time and skills to further our teens’ exposure to new foods and cooking techniques.

Last week, participants at our Columbia Heights site hosted two engaging Guest Chefs. We are thankful for Chefs Ztang Ruangsangwatana of DC Noodles and Yi Wah and Caitlin Roberts of Number 1 Sons for their fun and informative workshops!

Share in our fun, and check out these great action shots from last week’s classes! Stay tuned for more updates from additional guest chef visits on our blog and social media in the coming weeks...

Chef Ztang demonstrating knife skills

 

Connecting to our Roots...Through Dessert!

Last week , we teamed up with our fabulous, generous friends at Poste Moderne Brasserie  for a unique new fundraiser event: the Sugar Showdown. The event featured some of DC’s top pastry talent getting together for a friendly competition and guests enjoying an evening of sweets and bubbly on the patio, all to benefit Brainfood.  These amazing chefs whipped up imaginative, seasonal desserts for judges and guests to sample, and we all got to cast our votes for the winner. Guests enjoyed champagne and small savory bites by Poste chef Kyoo Eom, along with the phenomenal treats featured in the competition, and a wonderful time was had by all.

Of course, these chefs couldn’t make just anything! We all know a cooking competition is no fun without a limiting parameter or challenge of some kind.  The theme for the Sugar Showdown was both literal and conceptual in nature, and it’s a concept that I found extremely compelling: roots. The chefs interpreted this to mean culinary roots, family roots, community roots and actual roots -- as in, root vegetables. So what’s a dessert chef to do with the theme of roots? Well, these contestants had some pretty creative solutions:

Poste Moderne's Casto Unson, served a purple yam éclair with candied kumquat and rosemary oolong tuile, which he explained that his dish was inspired by his Filipino heritage and the flavors profiles of the cuisine he grew up with. Trummer's On Main's Deborah Brown served a carrot pecan cake with a citrus glaze and a cream cheese parfait (plus a salted beet chip as a garnish!) and her display table included an old heirloom cookbook, yellowed and frayed, opened to the page of the cake she featured.  Chef Caitlin Dysart of the restaurant 2941 served a ginger root budino on a carrot walnut cake with carrot confit, which was the crowd favorite, winning the “people’s choice” award of the evening. Meredith Tomason of Rare Sweets spoke about the Italian side of her family using pistachio in many desserts, which she featured as a garnish on her chilled rhubarb soup with vanilla bean and licorice root semifreddo, the dish that won the “judges choice” award in the competition.
 

Jet-Setting Around the World

Jet-setting around the world is a dream many of us have. And thanks to food, we have the opportunity to experience brand new cultures and countries right from our very own homes.  Here at Brainfood, we are ‘traveling’ to different countries and the ride is about to get wild.

Our first stop: Jamaica. Well known for its vibrant colors and spiciness, Jamaican food has a unique mixture of tastes from the rich native history and colonizing countries. The coconut crop from the Spanish, porridge and sweets from the British, and curry from the Indians showcase the influences from many different cultures worldwide. And at the root of the cuisine, is the strong history of the Maroons (Jamaican slaves who were able to escape into the mountains during British power) and their survival.
 

Maroons created the Jerk as a way to preserve and cook their meat and fish. Jamaican Jerk consists of two main ingredients: allspice (pimento) and scotch bonnet peppers. 

Signs of Spring from the Brainfood Youth Garden

 

Our kale’s first visit to the garden! After spending their entire 23 days of life indoors under grow lights, they need some time to adjust to the variability of living outside in the garden. They spent their first hour outside swaying in the breeze and soaking up their first rays of real sunshine. Thank you to our Kitchen All-Stars for starting our first spring plants!

 


 

The garlic that has been cozily nestled in a bed blanketed by straw and row cover finally stretches towards the springtime sun. Look forward to some garlic scape pesto!

 

But It's a Tradition!

I started thinking about the importance of food traditions one night  after one of my favorite Brainfood classes, led by Community MVPs weekly classroom assistant, Ceci and her mom, Fina (her dad also made a guest appearance just in time to taste the food). Ceni and Fina, who are both Cuban, taught MVPs how to make delicious Arroz con Pollo, Tostones with a garlic sauce, and Natilla. When it came time to eat, with each bite of a new dish Ceci would say, “This reminds me of my childhood so much!” Even Fina had to admit that the Arroz con Pollo made by MVPs was better than any version she has made- quite a testimony to how awesome our MVPs are.  Class ended with students interviewing each other about their family’s food traditions, which got me thinking about my family’s food traditions.   
    

Food Day Post: Youth Voices from Brainfood!

This week on the Bite of Brainfood Blog, we thought we’d feature the blog post that Brainfood recently contributed to the Food Day Blog. For those of you who may not be familiar with it, Food Day is a national event that uses the phrases “real food, just food” to describe its focus. Food Day seeks to “inspire Americans to change their diets and our food policies.” Food Day is a project of the Center for Science and the Public Interest, and has dozens of national partner organizations. The Food Day Blog is a wonderful collection of stories, recipes, articles, and other glimpses into inspiring work happening all over the nation that is transforming the food system. When Brainfood was contacted about publishing a post on the Food Day blog, we were honored to be a part of such an important project! And our first thought, of course, was to put our student voices front and center. We were thrilled to be able to use this opportunity to amplify youth voices and give our participants a national audience for their writing about Brainfood.

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