A Day at The Farm Cooking School
My husband and I used to watch a lot of cooking shows years ago, around the time we got married. Eventually, we got tired of the constant stream of "celebrity" chefs and the never-ending competitive approach to cooking. Now, we tend to gravitate towards shows that feature local growers and producers. One show that we loved was Ian Knauer's The Farm on PBS. The show featured Ian on his family's farm that he had recently returned to, making dishes that came from his own farm or local growers. We really enjoyed his down-to-earth and "from-the-earth" approach to food and cooking.
We learned from the show that he had also started The Farm Cooking School in Stockton, NJ on the grounds of Tullamore Farms. Ian Knauer and Shelley Wiseman host a wide range of cooking and gardening classes throughout the year. We decided to check it out and signed up for their Tomatofest Garden and Cooking Workshop, which was in the middle of August - perfect tomato harvest time. They have a garden with the school (of course). Their gardener, Kate Douthat was on hand to help us learn about what's growing in the garden and even help with some of the tomato trellising and vegetable harvesting. The kitchen facilities are great. It's like they turned a one-room schoolhouse into a giant kitchen and dining facility, but still kept it cozy and comfortable.
One of the things I really loved about the experience that day was that it was reassuring. I forget to add ingredients sometimes and my garden has problems. You know what? These people who do this for a living do the same things/have the same issues. It's a relief to see that even when things aren't perfect, they're perfectly fine.
So...what did we make?
On the menu
- Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
- Corn-Basil Egg Roulade with Yellow Tomato Coulis
- Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce
- Canned Plum Tomatoes
- Sweet Tomato Jam
I wasn't sure what to expect from this day, but I was really happy with the recipe selection and how they organized the day. We were a group of 14 in attendance, so we split the group in half and took turns in the kitchen and in the garden. My husband even got to feed garden remnants not fit for the human table, but still edible, to the chickens. It was also a good distraction for the chickens while he fetched an egg from the coop.
Quick tip: How to get eggs from a coop in 3 easy steps
Of course, no one should really listen to me about how to get eggs from chickens. I don't have a clue, but it was fun to do this as neither of us had gotten eggs from a chicken coop ourselves before. I'm sure farmers would wonder why this was so exciting to us, but it was a unique experience.
As I write this post, my kitchen is being demolished for renovation. I'm not going to lie to you - it's disturbing to hear the sounds of a part of your house being destroyed. I keep telling myself these are the sounds of progress, but still... What this means is that, as of today, I don't have a kitchen for a while. But, there's a silver lining - these recipes came at just the right time. I was able to can my current tomato harvest before the demolition - both the plain canning as well the Sweet Tomato Jam. I'll also make the Gazpacho too because it doesn't require cooking....and there are still TONS of tomatoes ripening out in the garden.
Thanks Ian, Shelley & Kate!