Archive for ‘From the Ground Up’

January 7, 2014

From the Ground Up: Holiday Feasting!

by Melissa Harding

On the stove

As part of the Museums Connect program, made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums, Phipps is partnering with the Gidan Makama Museums in Kano, Nigeria to provide an immersive experience for 15 local high school students in each city. Participating students will learn about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table and will be communicating with students at their partner institutions. This project will last from September to June, resulting in the creation of a community cookbook that will be designed and created by participating students. Students will also meet each month for a Saturday workshop involving activities designed to get them thinking critically about their food system and food culture. Calling themselves the Global Chefs, this group of students is excited to learn more about what food means in their lives.

For the last meeting of the year, the Global Chefs decided to create a holiday feast. Nancy Hanst, Alyce Amery-Spenser and Cathy Brinjack from Slow Food Pittsburgh were on hand to help them create a meal fit for a king. The menu included roasted turkey breast on the bone, roasted sweet potatoes, Japanese yams roasted with citrus juices, and “jalof” rice, a Nigerian dish of pureed vegetables and rice. All of these recipes were brought in by students and chosen by the group as those that best represented their various cultural holiday celebrations. Students practiced their knife skills, as well as their skills in sautéing vegetables, as they cooked their meal.

While some students were cooking, others spent time learning more about food cultures. More specifically, they talked about the role of food in family, community and regional (Pittsburgh) culture. They also talked about food culture in the United States and how it compares to that of their Nigerian counterparts. Finally, they talked about what a healthy diet is comprised of, as well as situations that could prevent people being able to eat a healthy diet.

Additionally, students shared the recipes that they brought for December’s assignment, which was to interview an elder and bring in one of their favorite recipes. With students coming from as diverse of backgrounds as Haiti, Jamaica, Cameroon, Togo and Nigeria, the recipes they brought reflected their many culture.  Examples include akara, a black-eyed pea dish from Nigeria; beignets, or “puff-puffs”, which is one grandmother’s favorite treat; candied yams; stuffed shells; potato salad; veilli, a dish made with cassava from Togo; and friend plantains. January’s assignment is to find a vegetable-based recipe to share.

Finally, students spent time reflecting in their journals. They were asked to choose three strong, positive food memories and write about them, summing up their thoughts in a powerful 6-word statement to share. Most students talked about warmth, family and the importance of their cultures in their statement.

To see more images from the workshop, check out the slideshow below!

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The above photos were taken by Kate Borger and some of the students.

January 6, 2014

Amazing Art From One of Our High School Interns!

by Melissa Harding

 Will Grimm, one of last year’s summer high school interns and a current member of From the Ground Up, just shared with us his latest art project using repurposed items. Using only used food packaging items, Will cut 15, 552 strips to use as fiber, attaching them to a rug backing to create this 3′ x 4′ rug. He also says that the finished product is surprisingly soft on the feet.  Just goes to show that repurposed art can be beautiful AND functional!

Thanks to Will for sending us these great pictures of his work. We can’t wait to see what he will do next!

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CLOSE UP 2 WILL GRIMM RUG!!!!!!!!!!!

The above photos were taken by Will Grimm.

November 21, 2013

From the Ground Up: Understanding Our Complex Food Systems

by Melissa Harding

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As part of the Museums Connect program, made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums, Phipps is partnering with the Gidan Makama Museums in Kano, Nigeria to provide an immersive experience for 15 local high school students in each city. Participating students will learn about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table and will be communicating with students at their partner institutions. This project will last from September to June, resulting in the creation of a community cookbook that will be designed and created by participating students. Students will also meet each month for a Saturday workshop involving activities designed to get them thinking critically about their food system and food culture. Calling themselves the Global Chefs, this group of students is excited to learn more about what food means in their lives.

This month, a team of helpers from all over the community joined our Global Chefs in the kitchen to make their first full meal as a group. Nancy Hanst of Slow Food Pittsburgh, local chefs Rhonda Schuldt and Jean Daniels, and Chatham Food Studies student Amber Webb and B. Thorp all helped our students to learn knife skills, how to carve a chicken and more. Students made a meal of enchiladas, both vegetarian and chicken, and baked apples. For many of the students, it was their first time eating some of these foods. Everyone enjoyed eating the meal together, sharing in the group’s collective efforts.

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Students also learned just how complex the American food system truly is. They examined what a food system is, the differences between localized and conventional food systems, and how food systems looks different around the world. Students also worked on an activity comparing how foods market themselves versus the reality of their production and content, as well as how wealth is distributed along the food system. Finally, they looked at pictures sent by their Nigerian counterparts and examined how their experienced with food are similar and different to their own.

Additionally, students shared their holiday recipes from the previous month’s assignment. The recipes that they brought were varied by holiday and culture; examples include spiced yams, strawberry pretzel salad, coconut shrimp soup, sausage brochettes, baked moi moi and sweet potato pie. Students also chose a theme for their next recipe assignment; they are tasked with interviewing an elder to get a traditional recipe from their family or community.

To see more images from the workshop, check out the slideshow below!

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The above photos were taken by Lisa Xu and program participants.

October 25, 2013

From the Ground Up: Visit to Braddock Farms

by Melissa Harding

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As part of the Museums Connect program, made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums, Phipps is partnering with the Gidan Makama Museums in Kano, Nigeria to provide an immersive experience for 15 local high school students in each city. Participating students will learn about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table and will be communicating with students at their partner institutions. This project will last from September to June, resulting in the creation of a community cookbook that will be designed and created by participating students. Students will also meet each month for a Saturday workshop involving activities designed to get them thinking critically about their food system and food culture. Calling themselves the Global Chefs, this group of students is excited to learn more about what food means in their lives.

This month, our Global Chefs visited Braddock Farms, an urban farm located in the steel town of Braddock and the area’s single source of fresh produce. Their host was Jake Seltman, Director of Educational Programming at Grow Pittsburgh, who gave them a tour of the farm itself and the produce stand where they sell the fruits of their labor. The students were delighted by chickens on the farm and remarked on the contrast between the farm they were standing in and the working steel mill behind it. They visited the farm stand to purchase carrots and peppers to take back to the classroom for a snack. They also had a chance to meet Jonathon, a summer intern at Braddock Farms who shared with them his experience working with Grow Pittsburgh.

Back at the classroom, students turned their farm stand veggies into crudités and served them with hummus; for some students, trying hummus was a first! Inspired by their morning in Braddock, students had a spirited conversation about the merits of urban farming, food justice and what Braddock Farms contributes to its community. Students also shared their recipes for this month; the topic was comfort food and students brought in recipes ranging from chocolate pudding to fried plantains. After talking about the importance of eating many of these foods sparingly, students decided that another rare treat, holiday recipes, would be their assignment for next month.

To see more images of the morning, check out the slideshow below!

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The above pictures were taken by Hanna Mosca and Brianna Manfredi.

September 26, 2013

From the Ground Up: Museums Connect!

by Melissa Harding

phipps high school outreach underserved science education

“A place is a piece of the whole environment that has been claimed by feelings. Viewed simply as a life-support system, the earth is an environment. Viewed as a resource that sustains our humanity, the earth is a collection of places. We never speak, for example, of an environment we have known; it is always places we have known – and recall. We are homesick for places, we are reminded of places, it is the sounds and smells and sights of places which haunt us and against which we often measure our present.”
– Alan Gussow, American artist, teacher and conservationist

This fall, we are embarking on an exciting journey that explores the power of place –  the effect of place on our cultures, our food, our language.

As part of the Museums Connect program, made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums, Phipps is partnering with the Gidan Makama Museums in Kano, Nigeria to provide an immersive experience for 15 local high school students in each city. Participating students will learn about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table. They will be communicating with their partner institution and trying together to understand similarities and differences between American and Nigerian culture. This project will last from September to June, resulting in the creation of a community cookbook that will be designed and created by participating students; recipes in the book will represent all students in the group and share what they have learned. Additionally, students at Phipps will be hosting a community feast this spring to coincide with a visit from the Nigerian students.

Check out this video of the kids introducing themselves; this is their first communication with the Nigerian students:

To help them in creating their cookbook, students will meet each month for a Saturday workshop. Each workshop will involve activities designed to get them thinking critically about their food system and food culture. They will be planning and planting an edible garden at Phipps, cooking together, taking field trips to urban farms, and exploring ideas of sustainability and social justice through food. This program also has homework; students will be asked to use a different prompt each month to write a journal of their journey through the program, as well as to help them start collecting recipes for their book.

Our first monthly meeting was held last Saturday. Students began their day by getting better acquainted with each other and Phipps. They interviewed each other to both learn more about their group mates and to create a set of profiles to send to their Nigerian counterparts. They also spent some time journaling and cooking together; students made salsa using fresh vegetables from the gardens at Phipps and talked about the power of eating together to create community.

In the next few months, they will travel to Braddock Farms, a local urban farm worked by area teens, and cook together with Slow Food Pittsburgh. We can’t wait to learn along with these wonderful students – not only are they giving up their busy weekends to work with us, but their enthusiasm is amazing! We will share their journey, along with ours, every month. We will also ask you for your own thoughts about food and culture, here and on our Facebook page. Please share your insights with us!

Do you think that your own sense of place affects your food culture? Share your answers in the comments!

The above photo was taken by Cory Doman; the videos were taken by Hanna Mosca and Kate Borger.

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