Teach Your Children Well

Ok, I'm not a teacher. I'm not particularly wonderful with kids, either, although I adore my pageant girls. I'm always a little apprehensive about putting myself into situations involving children and me in any kind of authority position, but I guess kids enrolled in culinary programs might be the exception to my anxiety.

VINES is a local program in Broome County and one part of the organization employs kids from Binghamton High School to help in its urban garden for six weeks every summer, in turn teaching them how to grow and cook their own food. This kind of learning is so important for future generations - home ec programs in schools have largely gone by the wayside, and many working moms don't have time to teach their sons and daughters how to cook at home. For that matter, many moms don't have time to cook full blown meals at home like the mothers of past generations, so many children are out of touch with what real cooking even is. Hint: it doesn't involve a microwave, for the most part.

Recently, VINES reached out to STIR - Southern Tier Independent Restaurants - and asked for a chef willing to hold a cooking demo for the "Growing Binghamton" group of children. I eagerly stuck my hand in the air and volunteered to sous chef for whomever stepped forward. I've met some of these VINES kids before, judging the Broome County Legislature's Annual Ag Day Cookoff, and I couldn't wait to hang with them some more.

I'm the goober with her eyes closed. The other lady is Natalie, and she is a total rockstar urban farmer and agricultural wizard who helps run the Grown Binghamton summer employment program.

Sue Chinyavong, the new owner and chef at Treasure Ice Cream and Cafe, on Watson Blvd in Endwell, was our chef for the demo. So while I entertained the kids with dumb stories about blogging and eating everything in the Southern Tier that's not nailed down, she actually taught them cooking skills, like how to make spring rolls and egg rolls from scratch.

The dude in the green shirt is my buddy Paul VanSavage, partner in STIR, fellow Ag Day judge, and co-founder of Spiedie Fest. He came along to help out, take pics, and (duh) eat egg rolls.

The pop of fresh basil in spring rolls is heavenly, but chopping all those veggies makes a mess. Let's keep it real, shall we?

Sue, Paul, and I are holding a contest for the kids, with which I hope they're having fun. Over the next two weeks, they've been asked to Facebook, Instagram, Tweet and Snapchat as much as possible about my blog and local restaurants, tagging me, so I can keep track. Whomever has the most posts plus likes, retweets, etc., will win a cool bag of food related swag we're putting together. It will include a few cookbooks, some cool gourmet ingredients and cooking utensils, and a gift card to Treasure Ice Cream and Cafe.

In addition to the rolls, Sue made chicken stir fry with the kids - one of my favorite ways to use up vegetables from our garden! 

Sue is a veggie chopping gangster. I'm just running my mouth and not helping at all, as usual.

The kids helped with the presentation of the spring rolls. These were veggie spring rolls, with crunchy, bright-tasting carrots, kale, and green onions inside, plus all of ethereal fresh basil. Thai chile sauce was served with them, for dipping.

Here, I helpfully tell the children that if they want to make real spring rolls, they must dress in the traditional garb of the women depicted on the packaging. This is why I am generally not allowed near young people.

In addition to ice cream at Sue's place in Endwell, you can get egg rolls, spring rolls, and pho AKA Soup of the Gods. I'm going there soon to chow down, and you should, too! Or, if you're feeling charitable, check out VINES online. They take donations here.

These kids will be the next Rick Dodds and Jay Piscullis of our local restaurant scene, so I think we need to give them every chance to love food as much as we do. My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

1 comment:

  1. This is a really awesome program, and I love that you and Sue and your friend in the green came together from different parts of the community to throw support to this.

    Great job!