Sunday, May 12, 2013

How things happen

What a week!

Our Bauman kitchen (housed in the beautiful downtown First Congregational Church) buzzed with excitement as we moved into the Animal Protein portion of the curriculum, but what we were learning was only tangentially related to the noteworthy events.

On Monday, after a lesson on fish, we celebrated two birthdays with an extracurricular dessert that blew me away: Sublime Pie, made without sugar, dairy or wheat!

Let me add here that this program has consistently amazed me with the flavors of foods I thought I didn't like, From an early kale dish to a cilantro-based salad dressing to seaweed, I have opened my mouth and mind in so many ways. This pie was just the latest taste-bud-expanding experiences. Here is the ultra-simple recipe our lead teacher, Chef Matt Morrow, adapted from (as he put it) some Australian guy's cookbook on raw food:

Photo by birthday girl Brandi MacKenzie

Sublime Pie


3/4 cup macadamia nuts
3/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup dates, pitted and quartered
1 vanilla bean pod, ground
1 tsp. salt

Grind all ingredients together in a food processor, then press into a springform pan. (This super-simple crust could be used in any dessert application.)


5 to 6 ripe avocados (yes, I meant avocados)
1 to 1.5 cups dessicated coconut
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 to 3/4 cup agave nectar or pure maple syrup

Mix all ingredients together in the food processor, tasting for flavor balance. Pour into the prepared crust and freeze for several hours.

Two days later, after a flight of fancy with chicken, we encountered the irresistible opportunity to hear foodie hero Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, Food Rules, etc.), who was promoting his new book, Cooked, at the Boulder Bookstore just a few steps away. The question of whether to interrupt our class schedule to hear him was really no dilemma.

The choice became even easier when the local bookstore provided free tickets to the event, which popularity prompted to move to... yes, indeed, the First Congregational Church, just upstairs from our kitchen. We had suggested that we cook him lunch, but the handlers thought there would not be enough time, so we continued with class -- it was lamb day -- and adjusted the schedule to fit the lesson and get the stews cooking before heading upstairs for the lecture.

Pollan is, quite simply, who I wish I could be. He investigates a subject thoroughly, no, exhaustively, visiting places and people that know about the subject and generally immersing himself in all there is to know about it. Then he writes approachable, readable, engaging prose that conveys all that he learned.

And he seems to be a genuinely nice guy. We learned this when he came downstairs to visit with us in the kitchen. Having been told his schedule was tight, we hurriedly prepared a "to-go" container of our lamb stews that had been simmering. No, he wanted to sit and enjoy his meal (a habit that seems to be fading into history). While the class confronted The Lamb Chop (and seven people on a siz-burner stove), Pollan chatted with staff and enjoyed our stews before popping into the kitchen for a photo op. (Sorry you had to run off, Michael, the lamb chops were delish.

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