Our Fall-Spring cohort of BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated & Employable Teens) embarked on a special project to improve the backyards of seniors living in Plaza East Apartments. They spent months preparing for the project by learning how to consult with residents, design container gardens and create a garden care guide based on what they learned. The garden guide highlighted the importance of growing organic, having healthy soil, weeding, mulching, watering and pruning. It also had advice on pest management. With a lot of sweat and love, the BEETS transformed overgrown gardens into spaces with endless possibilities. They also worked with the resident to design and build a container garden for their new space. All three residents received a maintained yard, new container garden, a garden tool kit and a garden care guide. One resident said, “I can actually see myself out here in the yard.” We hope our three seniors can spend more time outside in their yards to practice their gardening skills, exercise, get some fresh air and to simply smell the roses.
On Thursday evening, April 14, 2016 residents and youth of Plaza East cooking class made delicious Crispy Quinoa Patties. Crystal Jones, our CommunityGrows Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Coordinator, led the youth in preparing the ingredients and putting the patties together.Another delicious dinner enjoyed by all.Here is the recipe!
Crispy Quinoa Patties
2 cups cooked quinoa (can also use rice to make rice patties)
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped herb of choice (parsley, cilantro, oregano)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup whole grain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot and zucchini (or veggie of choice)
1 Tablespoon oil, plus more as needed
1. Combine quinoa, eggs, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Add remaining ingredients (save oil for cooking). Let the mixture sit for a few minutes so the crumbs absorb some of the moisture.
2. You should have a mixture you can easily form into patties. You want the mixture moist so it will hold together when cooking. You can add more breadcrumbs to firm up or add a couple drops of water to moisten the mixture.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat, add 5-6 patties, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes until the bottoms are browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 5 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a large plate while you cook the remaining patties. Enjoy with a fresh salad.
Here is Alana Herro, one of our CommunityGrows extraordinary volunteers who helps out at the Plaza East cooking class on Thursday nights with one of her helpers!
report by Crystal Jones, CommunityGrows Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Coordinator
In education, holiday calendars can be an excellent tool for planning how to organize ones curriculum, as well as aiding it. This is especially true I feel, when having the privilege of working with food, in that people already associate many holidays with specific food items. When necessary, it’s fun to challenge those ideas, but most of the time those long standing customs and ideas can be better used to your advantage. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day last week, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to spotlight green foods.
For the day at Plaza East, students got to participate in the making of green smoothies with bountiful kale sourced from our Edible Schoolyard Garden, as well as a wild green pesto which we used to top a small serving of “green nachos”. Vitamin and nutrient highlights for this lesson were (among many), calcium, potassium and vitamin c. Our ingredient of the day?
That’s right, carrot tops. The MVP in this week’s wild pesto. Carrot tops are not only edible, but full of nutrients and can contain as much as six times the amount of vitamin C as the root itself.
Sometimes it almost feels like a game to me to see just how many fruits and veggies I can get my students to try and enjoy in one sitting. For this lesson, I am glad to say that I lost count and there were thumbs up all around.
Here is the recipe for our “Wild Green Pesto”
2 cups of carrot tops (packed)
¾ cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
1 cup parsley leaves (packed)
⅓ cup of chives
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup of edamame (shelled)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1. Combine the carrot tops, basil, parsley, chives and edamame in a food processor and pulse a few times.
2. Slowly add the olive oil, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add water to thin if desired
3. Serve over your favorite tortilla chips, with more edamame. Top with wild greens (we used arugula, carrot tops) and a little Parmesan. This pesto is also delicious used traditionally. Enjoy!
Plaza East cooking on Thursday nights has been going well, especially with the addition of our new Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Manager Crystal Jones, and our two CommunityGrows volunteers, Jean Wang and Alana Herro. The small (under 20 individuals) crowd is growing with youth and their families joining the mix. One dad actually came by himself to observe. He has two daughters (7 & 11), heard about the cooking class and wanted to check it out before sending his girls over the next week–which he did. In one of the classes, Crystal set up work stations and divided the class into two groups. One group made mango-banana “frozen yogurt” and the other group made whole wheat pita tostadas. Harvested lettuce & green onions were used in our tostada recipe. Both recipes went over well – even with a technical difficulty of having the food processor break and having to make the frozen yogurt by hand!
In other classes at Plaza East this month we made omelets, taco salads, a bountiful grain bowl, and muffins at the end of the class as a reward. See photos here.
On Saturday, January 30, 2016 our CommunityGrows Seed-to-Mouth Coordinator, Crystal Jones join the Plaza East Apartments Health Faire outside their Community Room and had this to report: Saturday’s demo at Plaza East went great. It was really nice to be able to familiarize myself with some of the residents and meet parents of a few of the students who I’ve had the pleasure of teaching in cooking class over the past few weeks. This cooking demo felt to me, what the first restaurant pop up or food truck must have felt like. I strapped my camping stove onto the front rack of my bicycle, enjoyed a sunny ride from the Mission to the Western Addition, where I set up a small table, a few flyers, my camping stove and a propane can. Then prepared Community Grows’ “Tortilla Espanola” recipe (recently featured on the blog). It was a success. Though truly, not much can go wrong with sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, egg whites, spinach and a little Parmesan (I threw in some garlic to attract a crowd). A line of curious and encouraging brunch enthusiast formed in no time. I look forward to the next event where we can again engage like this with the community – and hope to even have a couple of my Thursday night elementary school chefs assisting next time. *I even had a couple who thought we were there selling the omelettes and tried to pay me for them. Ha!
On Thursday evening June 11, 2014, Plaza East Apartments hosted CommunityGrows Seed-to-Mouth Cooking program for resident families and youth. Thanks to a grant from Supervisor London Breed, through the Department of Children, Youth and Families, CommunityGrows is able to offer six nights of cooking from 5:30-7:30 PM through August. The dates are June 11th and 25th, July 9th and 23rd, and August 6th and 20th. CommunityGrows is doing these classes in partnership with the Buchanan Youth Center at Plaza East, under the leadership of Martha Hollins, Program Coordinator and with the assistance of Monica Bhagwan from Leah’s Pantry.
On Thursday June 11th we were honored to Shannon Monique from GreenStreets join our CommunityGrows crew to help lead the class, and assist Adrian Almquist. We had over 20 youth and five adults helping to prepare minestrone soup, which we had with fresh baked bread from the oven. It was a delicious dinner and great success for our first time at Plaza East. Thank you everyone for your support and participation!
For more photos see our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here. Here is the flyer for future reference.