preparing lettuce soup
     As you can probably tell from our previous posts we love to garden and are passionate about helping families in our community to grow their own food, but we also love to cook, bake and most of all eat the food we are growing! We want our Grow Appalachia participants to share in the joy that comes from eating healthy food from the garden and we really want to begin to bridge the gap that arises when the gardening season is in full swing and baskets are piled high with fresh produce but the standard dinner plan for that food is to throw it in a hot pan of grease. We don’t strive to change cooking traditions, but simply want to introduce new and simple ways to prepare garden produce so that its true flavor and health benefits makes it all the way to the stomachs of those who grew it. So, logically, we held a healthy cooking workshop in order to introduce some of our participants to some different and creative ways of cooking healthy meals using the food that they produce themselves.
Jenny chopping some fresh onions
     We were very excited to have Jenny Williams, a local English professor and cohost of the live radio cooking show What’s Cookin Now, on WMMT radio, lead our workshop. Jenny is an extremely talented and knowledgeable cook who prepares food with the motto of “everything in moderation”. Listening to Jenny talk about her cooking inspiration and the value of good food  was truly a joy, and I think we all learned quite a bit in the short time that we were together.  Jenny talked with our participants about using different types of oils and fats in cooking and explained the concept of using ingredients that aren’t so healthy sparingly but strategically to create healthy and delicious meals. She also gave practical cooking tips and walked us through each step of preparing our meal for the evening.
two toasty fritattas
    We tried to focus our menu for the night on using produce that many of our participants will be harvesting from their gardens throughout the summer. Jenny started by talking about roasting vegetables and had participants help to prepare carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers for roasting. All the participants gave the veggies rave reviews and were very excited to try roasting their own veggies at home. We even had several participants with self proclaimed aversions to vegetables say that they loved this simply prepared healthy garden fare. Next up on the menu were fritattas, a basic egg dish cooked on the stove and then finished under the broiler to give it a nice crispy brown top. We have so many participants that keep chickens that it made perfect sense to showcase a dish that can be healthy and use up an excess of eggs, we were even able to purchase all our eggs for the workshop from a Grow Appalachia participant. Jenny used the eggs to make two really simple fritattas with onions, herbs, and cheese, that were absolutely delicious. You can also add any fresh veggies that you have to a frittata to make it an entire meal. The last thing that Jenny whipped up for us was a chilled lettuce soup, an interesting and creative way to use your greens that would be wonderful on a hot summer evening. A base of blended lettuce, stock, and onions, topped with a bit of bacon and greek yogurt was a decadent finish to an already amazing meal! Lastly we had homemade whole wheat bread and some really healthy little cookies, both of which you can find the recipes for at these links:
Everyone enjoying dinner
Thank you to Jenny and her husband Scott, and to all of our participants who attended, it was a wonderful evening of good food and conversation with wonderful people!

Serving up our wonderful spread of food!