By Kelly Vaughn
This week in the Culinary elective, we continued our discussion of Lewis & Clark and the food they ate along their journey. One of the foods we discussed were the vegetables they might find growing along the way.
Since the local Southern Illinois vegetables are starting to be plentiful, the students had an opportunity to work with locally grown cucumbers and peppers as well as fresh dill that is currently grows in our raised garden beds on the Brehm campus. The students had the chance to learn how to make refrigerator pickles.
First, we discussed knife safety, the proper techniques of holding a knife and how to cut different foods. The students learned that their dominant hand (or the one their write with) should hold the knife and their less dominant hand should hold the food they are cutting. They were able to wear a “cut resistance glove” on their non-dominate hand to help keep their hands safe from any accidental cuts. The campers did a great job at taking turns cutting cucumbers, garlic, dill, and peppers. Once cut, we assembled all ingredients in the jars and then made our brine. This allowed us to discuss last weeks lesson of measurements and practice what we learned by measuring and adding water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices to our saucepan. It took a few minutes for our mixture to boil, and although difficult to wait, it was a joyous occasion for all when the mixture finally came to a soft boil. We turned off our heat and the students learned how to properly pour the hot mixture into the jars (with a lot of help from myself). We secured the lids to the jars, wrote the date on top, then shoved them to the back of the refrigerator to let them set up (or to hide them!!). Pickles will be ready (and tasty) by the end of the weekend!!
This entire process raised many questions, but mostly a great opportunity for the campers to have guided instruction in slicing, chopping, and assembling all parts of a recipe. In the beginning, not many of the campers were too interested in making pickles (it is not very “kid-friendly”), but by the end of the session, they all seemed to enjoy the activity! It was also nice to be able to show the students how local, homegrown food can benefit many people. Most campers were unaware that our campus has an amazing garden that is planted and maintained by our Brehm and OPTIONS students.
Stay tuned for next week’s Culinary blog as we explore Lewis & Clark and the meat that they hunted. (Also, if any family would like to learn more about the “cut resistance glove”, please feel free to contact Chrissy Strusz or Charity Finley for more information.)