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.

Cooking at The Farm Cooking School

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
Yellow Tomato Gazpacho Shooters

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho Shooters

Corn-Basil Egg Roulade before it gets rolled

Corn-Basil Egg Roulade before it gets rolled

Shelley artfully rolling up the Roulade

Shelley artfully rolling up the Roulade

Corn-Basil Egg Roulade with Yellow Tomato Coulis (Canned Plum Tomatoes in the Background)

Corn-Basil Egg Roulade with Yellow Tomato Coulis (Canned Plum Tomatoes in the Background)

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

Step 1: Feed chickens in one corner

Step 1: Feed chickens in one corner

Step 2: Grab eggs in other corner

Step 2: Grab eggs in other corner

Step 3: Enjoy eggs (or egg, in this case)

Step 3: Enjoy eggs (or egg, in this case)

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.

Kate, showing us the way in the garden

Kate, showing us the way in the garden

The dining area of The Farm Cooking School

The dining area of The Farm Cooking School

Fresh Garden Veggies for The Farm Cooking School

Fresh Garden Veggies for The Farm Cooking School

Sweet Tomato Jam with Vanilla & Corn Ice Cream

Sweet Tomato Jam with Vanilla & Corn Ice Cream

Chef Shelley Wiseman at The Farm Cooking School

Chef Shelley Wiseman at The Farm Cooking School

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!

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine