Cooking Up December Community with the SPU CK

By David Eschliman, Assistant Coordinator, Community Kitchen at SPU

This month at the Seattle Pacific University Community Kitchen took place a week earlier (December 7th) because the students were leaving on winter break. We celebrated the coming holidays with a festive and seasonal meal. All the favorites were represented, updated, and slightly modified, to represent a new and interesting twist on many traditional holiday recipes.

We whipped up some amazing mashed potatoes using Yukon golds and some wonderful winter root vegetables like parsnips and celeriac root. Dr. Geleva created a very special stuffing recipe that was literally the “healthiest stuffing ever”, featuring every food group (mushrooms, onions, and celery, cranberries, two types of nuts, parmesan cheese, and whole grain bread from our favorite bakery in Ballard, Tall Grass Bakery, who kindly donated it to us). For the main course we cooked a meatless meatloaf. And why eat cranberry sauce from a can when we could use fresh cranberries? Homemade cranberry sauce was easier to make and more flavorful than most of us thought. For a sweet side dish we roasted sliced sweet potatoes with maple syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon. And we got to learn about the difference between sweet potatoes and yams (what we have in the US is all sweet potatoes even if they are labeled ‘yams’ at the grocery store).

Our participants went home with quarts of the “healthiest stuffing ever” and a rainbow bean and whole grain soup. The soup was filled with ten different beans and whole grains, including red lentils, wheat berries, and barley. The soup also ended up with a lot of carrots because the group that worked on it was so focused and efficient, they added to the soup the carrots that were supposed to go in the orange spiced cookies! Fortunately, more carrots only meant a prettier soup and thanks to Heidi’s quick run to the store for more carrots (while unaware she was still wearing her hair net!) everyone was still able to take home a tub of delicious orange-spiced cookies with carrots, currants, and whole wheat pastry flour. Another unfortunate turn was that the meatless meatloaf took longer to cook than expected; but we had a testing of the bean and grain soup instead and took pieces of the loaf home. The soup was very delicious, hearty, and full of winter flavor.

Reflecting on the last kitchen of the 2011, we want to thank all participants, both seasoned veterans as well as the new folks who came out to cook and share a meal with us this month. As the Christmas holiday and the New Year approach, we hope that you all can share these great recipes and memories with the ones closest to you. Let us cherish our loved ones this season, be thankful for all the earth has provided us, and enjoy all its bounty!