I love teaching!! I love everything culinary!! And, I love my students!! Together we experience fresh, nutritious ingredients and tweak them gently to get the most flavor out of a food. We don’t just talk about how fresh ginger is a different flavor from powdered or crystallized ginger. We experiment to see what food each one works best in.
I am always learning: New techniques and new ideas as well as traditional methods I can apply to trendy foods. I just realized today that I spent my childhood foraging for wonderful, fresh foods. Never mind that I had never heard of that word. It became a part of my vocabulary one day when a Hmong girl in my class started telling me how her father would stop the car as they were heading down the road and pick a succulent, edible plant from the ditch. I talked to my classes from then on about foraging but just today I realized that I foraged for so many foods as a child. We searched for morel mushrooms, hickory nuts, walnuts, blackberries, gooseberries, wild onions, chokecherries, mulberries, and a whole host of other edible wild things. I was always on a mission to find some new delicacy in our fields and forest. One day I found wild grapes and made grape jelly that turned out more like grape juice. I was exhausted after picking , cleaning, cooking, squeezing and pouring the beautiful purplish-red liquid into jars. I was so tired and discouraged when I realized it was not going to set up. I was only about 10 years old and knew very little food science, but the next time I saw Gram, I asked her to show me how to make jelly. She taught me the science and the technique. It was the same technique used by women in my family for many generations.
Gram was an expert at many things but especially growing fruit for jelly. Every Christmas we found dozens of different kinds of jams and jelly under the tree, all which came from fruit she grew on her farm or foraged for in the woods. It was a magical thing…turning produce and grains into sustenance for the winter months. This is where my love of culinary medicine began-on the farm.