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Local Flavour: Go to class at the farm
One of the highlights of the annual Day at the Farm event on Westham Island is the big yellow tent of Agriculture in the Classroom and their mini-serving station.
As always, visitors can expect delicious and delectable local foods as prepared by chefs and local culinary arts students.
Lindsay Babineau, a founder and executive director of Agriculture in the Classroom, says they receive participation through their Take a Bite of BC program, which since 2009 has allowed high school students from 37 different culinary arts programs to learn to make meals from local foods.
B.C.-grown products are donated to the program and delivered to participating school teaching kitchens once a month throughout the school year with the exclusion of December, March and June.
The program provides an opportunity for chef instructors to feature locally grown products in secondary school teaching kitchens where students gain experience working with fresh products and develop an appreciation for farmers in their community. This connects the students with the foods that are grown around them and they learn about the benefits of eating healthy, fresh and local.
That’s a perfect fit for an event like Day at the Farm.
“It’s really quite remarkable, it’s really quite fun to have these young people there in their ‘Take a Bite of BC’ aprons and their chef jackets,” says Babineau.
This year, as in previous years, Ag in the Classroom chef and culinary instructor for Maple Ridge Secondary Trevor Randle will work with students at the mini serving station. Babineau says the public has responded favourably to the many food samples and creations of students from the very first year of participation which featured a leek and potato soup, a salad, and creme brule.
“What we found so remarkable–because we had spent quite a bit of time deciding what we were doing to do the next year – well everybody comes back and they want the same thing,” says Babineau laughing. “They walk to the tent and say, where’s that soup we had last year?”
Babineau says Randle has since learned the lesson to try and repeat at least a favourite each year.
Randle works with fresh local products in all of his culinary creations and can tell visitors where each food was sourced from, increasingly important among today’s ecologically conscious consumers.
Randle will share teaching responsibilities with fellow local culinary instructors, including Lori Pilling from Delta Secondary and Gerald Worobetz from South Delta Secondary.
“We’re all working together on this promotion of local product so when Day at the Farm comes, rather than Trevor bringing students from Maple Ridge who wouldn’t know anybody out in Delta we get students from Tsawwassen and Ladner,” says Babineau.
Pilling will be on hand to judge the local fruit pie contest, which although not officially associated with Ag in the Classroom is something people should check out, says Babineau.
For something really delicious be sure to check out the Day at the Farm tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 7) at Westham Island Herb Farm.
Fresh B.C. Potato Gnocchi
Yield: 10 Servings
2 Kg B.C. Russet Potatoes
2 Whole B.C. Eggs
3 B.C. Egg Yolks
Pinch Ground Nutmeg
TT Salt and Pepper
500 g All Purpose Flour
1. Wash and bake potatoes in a 375F oven for 35 - 45 minutes or until tender.
2. While still warm, cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the inside.
3. Immediately pass the potato through a ricer into a bowl.
4. Combine the whole eggs, yolks, nutmeg and salt and pepper.
5. Add the egg mixture to the potatoes and mix until combined.
6. Add half of the flour to the mixture and gently mix until just combined.
7. Place the remaining flour on a flat surface and kneed the flour into the dough until it is firm and workable.
8. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Roll each piece until the dough reaches a diameter of 1 1/2 to 2 cm.
9. Using a dough cutter or a small knife, cut the gnocchi into 3cm pieces and roll into a ball.
10.To achieve the classic gnocchi design and shape, flour the tines of a fork and use the back to roll the dough ball up to create the indentations. At the same time, use the tip of your finger to make a small indent in the back of the gnocchi.
11.Place formed gnocchi on a lightly floured surface. Cover and refrigerate until service.
12.To cook the gnocchi, place it in plenty of boiling salted water. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. (They will tell you when they are ready because they will float.)
13.Remove the gnocchi from the water and toss with your favorite tomato sauce, Alfredo sauce, pesto or some brown butter with fresh sage.
Chefs Note: (When mixing the gnocchi dough, you may find that you will need to add more flour if the potatoes have a high moisture content, this is decided by feel. Practice makes perfect!!!)