Today we take the roasted squash from our last workshop and make it into pie filling. In addition to the squash, we used eggs, condensed milk, sugar, and “Pumpkin Pie” spice. The ingredients are put in the mixer and the resulting batch is placed in the pie crust and baked in the oven.
We spent a considerable amount of time peeling potatoes, we figured we needed about 20 pounds of potatoes to make mashed potatoes for everyone. These potatoes were grown behind the school in our “Mondragon Field.” We grew 4 kinds of potatoes but only used these yellow and white ones as the red and the purple ones would not necessarily cook the same.A highlight of our meal was using our own chile that was grown at Parr field. We basically just put the chile pods in water and blend them really good and boil them on the stove. It is a northern New Mexico tradition to eat our mashed potatoes with red chile rather than gravy so it is great that 100% of this part of our Thanksgiving meal was homegrown (school-grown that is).
We made many pie crusts, not only for our pumpkin pies but also to make some apple pies.
Today we received some much needed snow. Unfortunately our garlic is not in the ground yet, but this is still much needed moisture. I don’t remember this much snow this early, so hopefully this means a good winter with much snowpack in the mountains which could mean good snowmelt, riverflows, and therefore a good irrigation season with our acequia..
Today AIRE had the pleasure and honor to be invited to speak at the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers 2013 Conference. We shared the presentation with the Director of our primary funder, Sadaf Cameron of the Kindle Project. This session was organized by Adam Rubel, another affiliate of the Kindle Project. We also heard from Nicholas Mang of the Jessica Love Foundation, Story of Place Institute, and Regenesis.
The topic was about Innovation and Emergent Solutions. It was great to be part of this panel and articulate these ideas. For AIRE, we look at our programs using a Permaculture model. Basically, different projects within our operations are like ‘elements’ in an overall design. Every element has functions that it serves and has needs to fulfill those functions. As it fulfills the function, it creates products.
So we look to create products in each element of our programmatic activity that serve other needs in other elements, and thus other programs. For example, we have the Parr Field Garden Project which produces food like squash, which is a need to make pumpkin pies, a topic of our Food Traditions workshops. One of the products of the squash is seed, which is a need for our seed cleaning activities, as well as a need for our seed library program which gives this seed to elementary aged students in the spring. Therefore we are able to grow squash, make pumpkin pies, and save seed all while mentoring young people in these various aspects of agriculture and food traditions.
Ultimately our innovation is not about incorporating new things but doing old, or traditional, things in a new way. We are working to generate wealth in our programs through agriculture and use that wealth in a regenerative capacity to make more food, generate more seed, and in effect, mentor and inspire more young people into the vocation and practice of agriculture.
I also had to present on the artistic nature of our work, of allowing opportunities to arise and make changes to our programs depending on what is learned. For example, we are now engaging in projects that involve the youth that also feed into the school lunch program. This was not an opportunity when we started, much less an idea. But given the flexible nature of our primary funder, Kindle Project, we felt the latitude to make programmatic changes midcourse in our grant cycle to take advantage of an opportunity that has ultimately become cornerstone to our future programs…
Today Margaret Garcia shows us how to make pie crust for our pumpkin pies. We already roasted and steamed our calabasas (squash) and froze them in previous workshops. Now we are getting the crusts ready. This recipe is not only good for pies but also for things like quiche and pot pies. There is only four ingredients: wheat flour, butter, water, and salt.
One of the tricks we learned today is that all the ingredients need to be cold for the best crust. This is to stop the gluten in the mix from becoming activated. This also creates a flakier crust. So the flour is room temperature or chilled, the butter is definitely cold, and ice water is mixed in tablespoon by tablespoon to make sure the right consistency is attained.