Friday, July 11, 2014
I am in Coos Bay, Oregon, with my 8-year-old granddaughter, on a Roads Scholar Intergenerational program, Cooking With Your Grandchild Along the Oregon Coast.
How does food get from the farm — or ocean — to your table? Share in the ultimate culinary adventure with your grandchild as you join chefs from the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute (OCCI) for a hands-on approach to bringing fresh, local foods to your plates! Learn how to catch and prepare your own seafood along Oregon’s beautiful coast, and select delicious local produce as you meet local farmers. OCCI chefs offer their expertise in kitchen safety and cooking techniques as you and your grandchild create dishes from the ingredients you have caught and harvested. From blueberries and herbs to produce and seafood, your introduction to Oregon’s gastronomic delights is sure to be delicious!1
Crabbing meant dropping crab cages, baited with a quarter chicken (a crab’s typical diet), off the side of a high dock. Had to throw the crabs “we” (my granddaughter) caught back in because one was female (can only keep males) and another was undersized (we had a ruler to judge minimum size).
Then we went in groups to the farmer’s market to buy the groceries for dinner. Afterwards we drifted down to the Cranberry Sweets Company, which has maybe three dozen different samples of chocolate throughout the store. We overdid.
Luckily, the chef had purchased a few crabs as none of the group (14 grandparents + their 12 grandkids, both boys and girls, 8-12) caught any large ones within the two hours we fished.
When we were learning about cooking our dinner, the young volunteers in the class who were supposed to rip the bottom shell off the live crabs for the demonstration worried about whether it would hurt the crabs (!) so the college student aides took the crabs off camera and smashed them first. (You could hear it – we all squirmed.)
We usually made half of our dinners, the aides making the rest before we get into the kitchen. (They also do all of the cleanup – what a deal!)
•Dungeness crab with cocktail sauce
•Baked salmon with compound butter (with orange zest and ground fennel)
•Garden vegetable sauté (zucchini and yellow squash)
•Pesto pasta (we made the pesto)
•Ice cream sandwiches (made with chocolate chip cookies the college students made)
And each night we adults got wine!
We are staying in the dorms at the Southwestern Oregon Community College, taking the classes from Chef Wendi Ginther of OCCI.
Blueberry picking today at Hazen’s Riverside Blueberry Picking2, a 48-acre farm with 5 acres of U-pick blueberries. The berries are almost organic; he only uses Roundup on the weeds. We asked about birds. He said that one year a couple thousand cedar waxwings descended upon his farm. Nothing he could do other than run about, chasing them out. That was not his best year, but he bought the farm for his retirement and he said that he does just fine.
Then swinging on a rope swing and a picnic lunch.
•Caprese s’mores stacks (Caprese salad on toast, not chocolate and marshmallows, to the disappointment of the kids, but the cheese had some carmelized sugar on top, done with a kitchen blow torch)
•Spinach salad with blueberries, chevre and citrus vinaigrette
•Grilled flank steak with citrus chimichurri (a green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from Argentina, which we made)
•Focaccia (made by the aides)
•Blueberry pie (which wasn’t cool enough, so we had to eat it the next day)
•Biscuits and homemade blueberry jam (which we got jars of to take home, along with bags of leftover blueberries)
Sunday, July 13, 2014
We had to get on the bus at 5:00am (!!) headed for the docks for a morning of deep sea fishing, Betty Kay Charters3. It was way cold, the seas were high, and the sun never came out. (This snap from a video they gave each of us on the last day.) I was queasy, only the second time I’ve been seasick, and stayed in the cabin except for forays out to take photos.
We had to catch 62 fish before we could go back. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard. This photo of BamBam (yes – it’s his given name), who helped all of the kids all at once it seemed, with their fish. “We” caught rockfish (tiger, blue, black, vermilon, china), cabazone, quill back, ling cod, and perhaps others. We had to throw back the yelloweye rockfish, as they don’t mature until they’re 20, and can live to be 120! (147 is the record.)
When we got back to stable land, the smallest 31 of our fish were professionally filleted, at incredible speed, and we took the 31 largest fish back to learn how to fillet them. (We threw out the heads and guts, but could have used them to catch crabs.)
My granddaughter was at very low ebb as we cooked this afternoon. Rather than mandating a nap for the two free hours we were given, I let her go crawfishing in the river behind the dorms, organized by our host. They used sticks, string, paperclips, and pieces of hotdog. One girl walked out onto a log and fell in. Glad she wasn’t mine.
•OCCI garden greens with mustard vinaigrette (We’re getting good at whisking vinaigrettes.)
•White fish en papillote (with “garden vegetables”)
•Fresh baked rolls (made by the aides) with compound butter
•Blueberry pie from yesterday
Monday, July 14, 2014
This morning – the Mystery Basket Competition. Each of the five tables got: blueberries (surprise!), fillets of fish (surprise!), compound butter, lots of parsley, zucchini and yellow squash, tomatoes, and salad greens.
We had a half hour to decide upon our menu, 2½ hours to cook it for lunch. We could use any other ingredients the kitchen had. A bit daunting for me, as I usually use a cookbook! Anything baked had to be done at 350°.
•Parsley/greens salad with edible flowers (which the kids picked right outside) and a lemon vinaigrette
•Baked tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
•Sautéed julienned vegetables
•Sautéed fish fillets with compound butter
•Wild rice pilaf
(Champagne flutes filled with edible flowers for decoration)
We were judged by the college aides by a 4-point scale on:
1. Utilization of mystery ingredients
2. Menu theme
5. Cooking methods – consistency and texture
6. Utilization of time (can’t be done too early or too late)
Our team got 3rd place with 3/4/3/3/3/1/4. (We were the last ones done.) This was our group:
That afternoon Chris Foltz, Executive Chef of OCCI, cooked a Native American dinner for us: fish-head soup (which the kids just loved – hah!) with flatbread (fried, but not deep fried as the Tohono O’odham do here in southern Arizona), planked salmon (which he filleted with lightening speed), and foil-wrapped corn on the cob. As we were at the OCCI classroom building, with no sand to stake the sticks, Chris had devised a contraption to hold them.
After dinner we went to the loading dock for the cafeteria where he and two of his students did ice sculpture. He competes for the United States at the World Ice Art Championships, presented by Ice Alaska4.
We were sent home with the booklet of all of our recipes, the video of our days, and a contact book with everyone’s photos, addresses and email addresses. What a great week!