This weekend I was busy getting schooled at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, learning the basics of raw food preparation, munchin' an crunchin' on some samples, and sharpening up my knife skills (still quite dull, FYI). The last couple of days have been a whirlwind of activity, and I wholly expect it to continue at this pace for the next couple of weeks.
Most of you are probably enjoying the national holiday today (Canada and US!), and I've seen lots of awesome September Long food posts floating around - alas, I'm sipping some green tea and preparing for a full day of action. Before I do that, I wanted to share some pictures and opinions on my first class of the weekend.
For the full scoop on my Living Light schooling, check out the links:
FUNdamentals of Raw Food
FUNdamentals of Raw Food
This is a one-day introductory course to edumacate the complete beginner, or anyone, really. Subjects that are touched on include soaking and sprouting, how to grow wheatgrass, making milks and cheeses, and crunchy goodies like crackers and granola, as well as soups, sauces and dressings.
The topics are presented demo-style, with a rotating staff of instructors showing you what's what. Your watching, waiting and drooling over food is rewarded with cute little samples and a luxurious lunch feast. All of the yummy goodies that were made in class have recipes take home with you, so you can begin playing in the kitchen immediately.
First up, some pizza flax crackers with herbed cashew cheese. The crackers really do have that pizza taste, and a nice crunch thanks to the flaxseed. The cheese was delicious as you might expect - lightly fermented and tangy, but smooth and rich.
Here's a three-in-one affair: almond milk, a buckwheat granola bar, and a chocolate brownie. The almond milk was somehow way better than the variety I make at home, despite it only being three ingredients (almonds, water, sweetener) - I suspect they add a little less water than I do, creating a more creamy finished product. The granola bar was good - a little crunchy for my personal taste, but would be highly enjoyable crumbled as cereal. And a brownie - can't go wrong with those. It was rich and walnut-based, but not overpoweringly sweet like brownies tend to be.
More dessert - yay! A carrot kuchen, though I don't even know what kuchen means so we'll just call this raw carrot cake. The frosting was to live for - very light and airy and gently sweetened. This was the healthiest carrot cake I've ever eaten, and it was definitely a different eating experience than the cake-y version (the raw version had more texture and bite) - still delicious in it's own right, and judging from the ingredient list, fairly inexpensive to make since it's not nut-based.
Here's my lovely lunch, which basically looks like a chaotic pile of vegetables, but I swear there's order in there. Everything atop the romaine leaf was eaten as a wrap - same goes for the nori sheet. The veggies in the back were just a chaotic pile of salad.
The DIY-style salad bar would leave no person hungry. In addition to the heaps of greens and veggies, they offered avocado slices and pecan pate, seasoned nuts and seeds, a bowl of olives and a couple dressings to choose from (both delicious!) - for our class, there was a creamy tomato basil dressing, and a dijon dressing.
-This class was a great demystifier - I'm not nearly as afraid of playing with things like sprouting and fermenting.
-Fast-paced and comprehensive. These guys pack in a LOT of information into the day, making it feel very full.
-It's taught by a wide variety of chefs, all from different places in the world (from Montreal to Japan), bringing along their own unique experiences and expertise.
-SAMPLES! Come on, samples. I can't watch people make food and then not eat it - that's part of the whole learning experience.
-This class really did feel like an introduction for what's to come, instead of a standalone class. It basically felt like a birds-eye view of everything, with more details and hands-on stuff in the later segments. And I'm a doer! When I see people making food, I want to get right into it myself. This isn't a con, per se - but I wouldn't prefer this class in isolation, just because of the kind of person I am.
-Lots of sitting! Apparently I'm not so good at sitting still for more than an hour. Luckily, they had several breaks and encouraged us to walk around, which I happily obliged to.
What I Took Away:
-Sprouting isn't scary! It's all about just trying it, playing, and getting a feel for it yourself.
-Fermenting isn't scary, either! And it doesn't have to be stinky. All it takes is patience, and very little effort.
-While fancy tools aren't a must, it's worth investing in good equipment to make your kitchen life happier. Start with a good knife and build slowly from there, as your budget allows.
-High-speed blenders (Vitamix and Blendtec) are beautiful, beautiful machines.
-The best dehydrator you can buy is under $200, and is so versatile - you can do everything from making crackers and goodies to preserving summer's harvest.
-As a time-saving tip, wash all your produce intended for juicing when you get home from the grocery store, and then store them into separate bags - one for Monday, one for Tuesday, etc. This makes morning juicing a really easy, quick experience so you'll actually do it.
-I want to grow wheatgrass - and I don't even LIKE wheatgrass!
So with all that said, I'll see you folks tomorrow with some pictures and thoughts on the knife skills class. Have an awesome holiday!