March can be the worst sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I know how to find joy in each season, but I always get antsy in March. I love spending evenings in front of the wood stove with soup, a crossword, an episode of Parks and Rec, or Mindy Kaling book, but I need to stop hibernating and do something. I need to switch it up and ease off the soup making.
March is the time when I get heavy into all those roasted tomatoes and that Sungold cherry tomato puree in my freezer and start laying off the vegetable broth. I want some freakin’ Mexican food. Turns out you do too!
I’ve been coordinating the Everyday Chef program for only a few months, but a large percentage of workshop survey responses are asking for “healthy Mexican food.” So this March, Rutland is going Mexican.
Tacos, quesadillas, heck, even grilled burritos take 15 minutes to make at home, and are all delicious. They are in heavy rotation in my house, and most other homes I visit too. (As a “flatlander”, after school quesadillas were a high school rite of passage.)
So for our program’s fundraising series, we are offering you classes on the Mexican food we order when we are out but never make. This cuisine is still flavorful when it’s not weighed down by oily cheese and sour cream. Turns out it’s pretty nutritious too.
Mexican food you prepare, instead of assembling, is a beautiful thing.
Since there is so much good Mexican food, there are 4 classes—a new one each week. Week 1 is Pork Abodaba, enchiladas and horchata: the pork is marinated in dried chilies and vinegar and stewed, the corn tortillas for enchiladas we’ll make from scratch, and the traditional sweet and milky beverage I’ll make ahead but give you starter kits to bring home.
Week 2 is as authentic as it gets. Local artist Maya Zelkin will bring local heirloom Vermont corn she dried to this class; she will work with you washing, cooking, and grinding corn into masa. Masa is the ingredient in authentic Tortillas (the ones in my class the week before will be made from cornmeal—still tasty) and Tamales, two delicious dishes you’ll be preparing.
Week 3’s star is Chile Rellenos—a dish I am obsessed with. Whenever I am traveling, I look for a Mexican restaurant where I can get good chile rellenos. Local chef Julie Redington’s spin is vegetarian; the mild poblano peppers are stuffed with quinoa, corn, cheese and spices. You’ll also be making a creamy avocado condiment, Avocado Crema, and Agua Fresca, which is like a homemade soda. These drinks are made with fruits, nuts or seeds and are bright and refreshing: perfect for March.
Desserts, of course, are the sweet ending to the series. RAFFL’s Executive Director Elena Gustavson has been making authentic Mexican food for decades and will lead this class on all her favorite sweets. Mexican Hot Chocolate; Cajeta, a goat milk caramel that holds its own against dulce de leche; and Flan—a sweet custard pie with hints of warming spices.
Everyday Chef is a program that works to bring ideas on how to incorporate nutrition into everyday meals and to wean ourselves off processed foods and ingredients. Our dishes incorporate local produce as much as possible, which makes sense, as RAFFL is a resource for farms, and our local produce is head and shoulders more nutritious--and tastier--than factory farmed vegetables.
We hope you get a lot out of this and have fun cooking with us!