Natural Gourmet Post Numero Uno

by Elizabeth on February 9, 2012

  Amazing Pots and Pans City from an exhibit by artist Zhan Wang – Thanks Ellie for posting!

Starting the chef training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute really inspired me to get back on the blogging bandwagon, so I hope to be posting on a more regular basis. We are learning so much that sometimes it feels like my head is spinning (in a good way). It’s been great meeting so many new people from all parts of the globe who share the same love of food. It has reminded me once again what a powerful connector food is. The instructors are fab and I like that they each have their own take on things so we get exposed to a range of approaches and techniques.

 Today we had a Basic Cooking Technique lecture in the morning covering animal protein. It was really hard to listen to at points, like when we got into details about the specific practices used in factory farms, but I know that it’s important to hear. More on this another time. Meanwhile, check out the cool campaign these NGI’ers started

 In the afternoon we had a whole grains demo, where we watched the instructor (today was Chef Celine) cook using different methods. Then we got to taste. (Side note-I’m sort of considering sewing a tasting pocket onto all my shirts, they are so handy!) We made three types of rice, quinoa, millet, rye, barley, kasha and a few others. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos from today, but I will be posting some soon.

Here are a few highlights from today’s class:

 -When cooking whole grain pasta, shock at least twice during the cooking process by pouring cold water into the pot when it reaches a boil. Typically the most common complaint about whole grain pasta relates to the texture, and this technique helps create a more even, al dente result.

 -You can bake rice in the oven. This one might be a no-brainer, but I had never thought to make it this way.

 -Since I started at NGI, at least once a day I have an “ohhh so that’s what I’ve been doing wrong” moment. This is when I have an epiphany about what has been causing something or other in my home cooking to come out less than perfect. Today’s was “Ohhh so I shouldn’t have been repeatedly stirring the rice while it’s cooking.”

 -Barley water is used medicinally around the world so if you are so inclined (and not gluten-free), try tasting some the next time you cook up a batch of barley. If not, it’s still fun to say (as in, “please pass the barley water”), so I recommend it either way.

 -And lastly, today’s class was a good reminder to CHEW more – especially grains – because the first stage of digestion happens in the mouth.

‘Til next time 🙂

(Photo Note: From the exhibition On Gold Mountain: Sculptures from the Sierra by Zhan Wang on view at the Asian Art Museum)

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