Yay Food Bags!

Hey Everyone!
At BCS we want to make sure everyone has enough to eat. So last year our Director Sarah and I started a take-home food bag project. Every Friday we send home bags with ingredients for a large family dinner, recipes, and extra staples like eggs and bread to any family who requests one. 

We’ve sent home over 600 food bags this year- that’s 3600 home cooked meals families have made with a little help from BCS. 
This time of year we’re especially sensitive to the many pressures on families. So, we’re packing up extra nice take home bags to get families through the school vacation. We’re even making some holiday quick bread so send home in our bags and to bring to the Seniors.  

If you would like to be part of our efforts to keep everyone at BCS well fed over the holidays, you can do one of the following:
·        Make a donation. $20.00 fills a bag with lots of healthy ingredients and recipes. Donations can be made by check, cash or online at http://burlingtonchildrensspace.org/get-involved
·        Or, if you're a BCS family, take a bag, use the ingredients to make something delicious, share it with your family,  and fill out the survey (don’t forget to fill out a request slip). 
As always, keep on cooking and eating.  

Love and Thanks,
Sarah and Erinn

Pie Night

 We got some  folks together one afternoon last week to bake pies and tarts in preparation for our annual Thanksgiving Family  Dinner.  I had help from some preschool friends early on in the kitchen; I peeled apples and they chopped. And boy, did they chop. They put those kid safe tools to use and went through an unbelievable 30 lbs of apples. Of course, there was the usual end of the day tidying up to do - cleaning afternoon snack dishes and loading the dishwasher.
My husband Sam came by with our daughter Sadie (one of the apple choppers) and snapped these photos.
After they left more BCS teachers, parents and siblings showed up to help Sarah and I put together many apple and pumpkin pies, 2 very large pumpkin and chocolate tarts, and a gluten free chocolate number, all in just under 3 and a half hours.
I just love our community, and I think it's possible that a new BCS Thanksgiving tradition has been born.

Apple Pie

Classic Pastry Pie Crust
originally published on the Kids VT Home Cookin' blog
(makes 2 crusts for a 9-inch pie plate)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
approximately 1/3 cup ice cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pour all of the flour into the food processor. Cut the cold butter into chunks and add to the flour. Pulse the food processor three or four times to blend the butter and flour. Don't blend too much; you want the mixture to look like loose crumbs. 

When you've got the right texture, add the cold water in a slow stream while blending continuously until the dough starts to hold together. It will take less than a minute. When the dough forms a ball in the processor, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. 

Form the dough into two rounds with your hands, and flatten them a bit. Wrap each round in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. The refrigeration will help the butter solidify a bit and the moisture distribute evenly and makes for a flakier, tender crust. 

When the dough is ready, rub some flour into your rolling pin and lightly flour your work space. Roll the dough from the center outward in a circular motion, trying to shape it roughly into a large circle.

When you have a circle about 2 inches larger in diameter than your pie plate, transfer the dough carefully to the plate. Roll, or crimp the extra pastry around the edges or use a fork to make a pattern. Roll out the top crust in the same way. 

I like to have lots of apples that form a little mound in the middle, so that even when they cook down while the pie bakes you still have enough filling to hold up the top crust, if you're using one. 
I usually use 9 or 10 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced about 1/4 inch thick sections. 
Toss in a large bowl with 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 Tbsp cinnamon, 1 Tbsp flour or cornstarch, and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Tip into your crust, then dot the top with about 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter, cut into small chunks. 
Carefully center your top crust over the pie and trim any excess, then seal the edges to the lower crust. Crimp the edges with your fingers or decorate with a fork. 
cut several slits in the top crust to let steam escape. 
Optional: brush crust with a beaten egg and sprinkle with a bit of granulated sugar before baking. 

Bake at 375 for about an hour or until the crust turns golden brown and the filling is bubbling. 

Long time no see!

Well, howdy!
 I've been away a long time, but working on lots of great stuff at BCS.
And now I'm back to fill you in!

We're still making great lunches every day for our kiddos, looking forward to lots of Actual Preschooler's Lunch Plates popping up here and on the facebook page. Here's lunch from the other day: whole wheat pasta with garlic and olive oil, salad with local veggies including carrots from the preschooler's neighborhood garden plot, homemade dressing, cheddar cheese and fruit. Lovely.

carrots grown by preschoolers

We had a great summer full of local produce from the Intervale Gleaning program. Every Monday I drove my van down the hill to the farm and came back loaded with veggies and fruit for our lunches and snacks, and even more to share with families.

Family dinners continue to bring us together.

We are still hosting dinners every other month, generously sponsored by City Market. Last week we had about 65 people for butternut squash soup - made with Intervale veggies - buttermilk biscuits, greens and Cabot cheese. It was a glorious Vermont fall evening and we ate outside.

My monkey peeler and I can handle a mountain of butternut squash, no problem.

little hands help with biscuit prep

serious business

everything looks beautiful in October afternoon light

food going fast

gorgeous salad prepared by BCS parents

Eating together
We are currently developing a model for monthly cooking classes that works for working parents. We've held two so far, offering a little extended care at the end of the day for anyone who wanted to stay and cook with us. We got some folks together and made salsa with the bounty of tomatoes and summer veggies back in July, and in September we made applesauce, apple crisp, and a kale/cheddar/apple casserole. We cooked the recipes together and sent everyone home with lots of prepared food and ingredients. We had fun and made some great connections at both classes, but we want to involve as many people as possible! So we're brainstorming ideas to make it easy for anyone to attend without adding new commitments to already busy schedules. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, enjoy the autumn light and the last of the harvest!

New year, new energy!

I love January.
It feels so fresh and full of promise. There's no better time to re-energize, re-focus, and get new initiatives underway than when you're looking out over a whole new year.  So what are our goals and plans for the BCS kitchen in 2015?

Fresh from the success of our Holiday Break Super Take Home Bags...
 (for the long holiday vacation we packed up 20 bags, each with a beautiful whole chicken to roast plus instructions, along with potatoes, carrots, onions, bread, butter, sugar cookie ingredients and clementines)
...take home bags are up and running in the new year. So far in January we've packed up ingredients for vegetarian burritos, 2 different breakfast-for-dinner menus, and macaroni and cheese with butternut squash. Check out Sarah's darling illustrated butternut squash instructions for this week's
Illustrated squash instructions by our multi-talented director

We are looking forward to a great year of new ingredients and new recipes in the bags.

Cooking classes
Sarah and I are working on our plan for bi-monthly cooking classes this year, in conjunction with family dinners. Our idea is to have one or two classes that cover some basics and versatile dinner recipes, then move on to some cool themes (like break making, pie, making bases for soups, etc) and guest instructors. We already have our eye on a few of our favorite food collaborators.

Several BCS folks have been attending monthly Professional Learning Community events hosted by our friends at Shelburne Farms. The over-arching theme is sustainability in early childhood programs, and past meetings  have included discussions on the role of nature and outdoor curriculum in early childhood settings.
Last night BCS hosted the meet-up and discussion about food in early childhood settings. I cooked...

Sarah made salted caramels

 and she and Ruthie (our incredible Program Director) gave tours of our space before we all settled in to discuss creating a positive food culture, inspiring healthy eating habits in kids and food justice.
It was truly an inspiring night.

BCS teachers and friends listen in at the PLC
PLC attendees from Pine Forest Children's Center and King St. Youth Center

The topic of food and kids  has so many branches reaching into so many areas, it can feel impossible to get your arms around it. Bring food justice, and sustainable food systems into the conversation and suddenly the issues can seem impossibly overwhelming.
That feeling is how Sarah described our staff reaction to a viewing of A Place At The Table - a 2013 documentary on food insecurity in America by Kristi Jacobsen and Laura Silverbush. The problem seemed so large we felt  like we'd never be able to affect any change. But then we realized that, in our own small way, we already were.

When I was growing up my dad  - always an active volunteer in our community -was fond of repeating the phrase "think globally, act locally" whenever I would get worked up about world problems. It came to mind as Sarah and I talked, the day after watching the film, about all the small things happening in the BCS community that were addressing the big issues discussed in the film. Things like family style meals served to kids every day. Our participation in a community program to put gleaned local produce in the hands of our families. Take home food bags free to everyone. Family dinners.
We realized that working in our own small community wasn't just the best way to attack food insecurity on a large scale... it was the only way.

It felt great to talk to a larger group about our journey so far, and the steps toward food security we envision for our families moving forward. We all came in to work the next day with some fresh energy and a renewed sense of purpose.

Of course, I'll be keeping you updated on all of our progress here.
And, new for 2015.... on Instagram as well! Please follow bcs_lunch_lady on Instagram for great pics of lunch and kitchen happenings at BCS.

Thanks, and I'm so glad you're here!