Written by Passion for Spices Camp Counselor Antonia Sylva.
If you haven’t discovered the uniqueness of Passion for Spices’ summer cooking camp, the third week of fun will prove it to you. From August 15-18th, kids of all ages learned about more than just cooking. The week’s theme, Farm to Table, was a constant presence. The guest chefs brought in each day—along with May Fridel, the camp’s coordinator—placed a great emphasis on sustainable living and eating. Campers were taught mostly about different kinds of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, all of which can be grown in a garden. Furthermore, all of the ingredients used during the week (and during all three weeks of the camp) were organic, fresh, and healthy. Each day had a totally different theme, but all helped to show kids that their food can be delicious, healthy, and sustainably grown!
On Monday, we focused on herbs: Mrs. Fridel brought a display of many different herb varieties. Each child was able to pick out a few of their favorites and arrange them into a piece of artwork, which we pressed down in between two pieces of wax paper with an iron. The campers then placed their designs within picture frames they painted themselves. Of course, we also spent the day learning to make Chicken Paillard from our esteemed guest chef. The chicken was a huge hit, and the kids ended the day enjoying a delicious lunch!
The next day was eggplant day. We started the morning with a study of the different types of eggplants (Asian, Italian, etc.). After gaining a little eggplant knowledge, we moved onto the bulk of the day, which was, of course, the cooking! We made Eggplant Napoleon and Baba Ganoush, two very different— but equally tasty— varieties of eggplant-centric dishes. The kids loved them (even the ones who didn’t think they liked eggplant to begin with)! And that’s what this camp is really about: kids discovering new foods, and ways of preparing them, that can give them a greater appreciation for cooking and for their own health!
On day three—seasonal veggie day—the kids had an amazing time making pizzas with their fresh vegetable toppings. In fact, they loved the end result so much that our guest chef had to make about seven pies! The campers were surprised at how much they ended up loving the vegetables on their pizza, and everyone had seconds!
Day four was spent learning the history of many different types of melons, as well as making pickled watermelon rinds, bread butter pickle, and Sicilian watermelon pudding. These were all extremely unique recipes that the kids had never been exposed to before!
Day five, tomato day, was a great one: the campers were taught how to make ketchup, Turkey meatloaf, and Focaccia with tomatoes. Tomatoes are already a pretty popular food among younger kids, so learning even more ways to prepare them was a really great experiences (of course, they got to eat all the delicious food)!
Overall, Farm to Table week was a great experience for everyone involved. I, as a counselor, learned a ton about sustainable living and eating fresh healthy food. The campers were educated too, and they also learned a bunch of cooking techniques. The best part of the week, hands down, was the eating! From eating chicken to pizza to Watermelon pudding, each day sent the campers’ taste buds on an explosive journey, one that opened them up to new flavors, new foods, and new experiences.