By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Callie Noland started her senior year at Skidmore College full of excitement. She and her housemates had signed on for a weekly CSA share, and she was looking forward to a fall of kale, bok choy, and kohlrabi. With the Internet at her disposal, she felt sure she would be able “to find something to do” with all of the luscious, vitamin-packed vegetables.
Soon, reality hit. As a college student with limited time and few cooking skills, she felt almost intimidated by the prospect of cooking for herself. More often than not, she ended up picking up pre-made foods on campus or eating at the dining hall. Much of the produce went to waste.
From Noland’s frustration came inspiration. She and a group of Skidmore students are teaming up with Saratoga Farmers’ Market volunteers to create a series of cooking classes for students based on easy, healthful, and flavorful meals that feature seasonal items available at the market. The first class is this Sunday.
The menu includes two hummus dips – one featuring sweet potatoes and the other parsnips; a beet salad, kale with caramelized onions and barley, roasted vegetables, and a potato cheese soup. Students will work at cooking stations set up in the college’s test kitchen with market volunteers serving as guides. Produce and cheese will be obtained from market vendors tomorrow, and students will go home with a booklet of recipes for their own use.
The goal, from market volunteer Ann Haden’s perspective, is to teach how cooking with fresh food doesn’t have to be complicated.
For Noland, a public health major, the classes are a way of helping students feel empowered about cooking with local produce. For her, she says, “I’m hoping for myself to gain some confidence.”
Noland hopes to add a few staple dishes to a chili she tries to make weekly, based on a recipe from her father.
“I feel that the stakes for cooking on a given day are high,” she says. “It’s an investment of time, of money, of food that should not be wasted. If it ends up tasting bad or failing in some way, so much is wasted.”
Visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at the Lincoln Baths Building in Saratoga Spa State Park; follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; and contact firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer opportunities.