For today’s cooking demonstration at The Friendship Garden of the Delaware school in Albany, I wanted to work with rice. I have been thinking a lot about my relationship with the land and how it connects to my family history. I have been nurturing these memories and thoughts in preparation for Black and Latino Farmers Immersion at Soul Fire Farm. (Can’t wait!)
Rice was the first food I learned to cook. It was also one of the first food stories my mother told me about my grandmother, her mother. Vovó Antonia farmed rice on borrowed land. She kept half of what she grew to feed her 9 children. There was not enough money to raise all the children so she had to send her children to live with relatives. My mother went with her godmother “Mãe Dinda” (Mother Dinda). When we traveled to visit my grandmother’s home town for the first time, I saw in her pantry bags of grains and thought of the toll it had taken on her and the family. She was older and no longer worked the fields, but there was rice, roasted yucca, and yucca starch. After I shared my story, fourth grader Ma Aye thought of a “connection”. What wonderful bunch of kids guided by a very special teacher–Susan Fowler.
I have a lot of fun childhood memories of cooking and eating rice. One of my favorites were eating rice balls with my hands. My mom would make rice balls for my brother and I. Just about anything could go into those balls kept together by sticky white rice. While we cooked at the garden, kids reflected on their favorite memories.
Brown Rice Salad
3 cups of cooked brown rice (water, salt and 2 Tbsp coconut oil)
2 cups of grated carrots (yellow and orange)
2 cups of sweet bell peppers (red and green)
herbs the kids picked from The Friendship Garden
1 cup of almonds (crushed using mortar and pestle)
3 cups of red grapes, sliced in quarters
juice of one lemon, olive oil and cinnamon to taste
Ellie’s photo by Susan Fowler