by Marnie Record
From counterculture to mainstream, the DIY food movement has taken root in urban centers across the country. Locally, the introduction of Homegrown Fest last year attracted more than 100 adults and children for a series of workshops, hands-on activities and demonstrations on gardening, cooking and homesteading, showcasing the growing thirst for taking back responsibility for self-sufficiency and improved health. Homegrown Fest, a celebration of food traditions and sustainable lifestyles organized by Grow Springfield, returns to the Lincoln Land Community College campus in Springfield this Saturday, April 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The incentive to DIY in the face of overcommitted schedules and rampant technology comes from a rejection of the preservatives, fillers, gums and stabilizers contaminating modern grocery store goods, but also for the benefits of saving money, having fun and learning new skills.
Families incorporate DIY projects into their lifestyle as a means of spending quality time together, but at the same time assisting their children in developing problem solving and experimenting skills, boosting confidence, and practicing goal setting – all abilities that lead to better health and better employment opportunities whether in the mechanical trades or in the corporate office boardroom.
Remember that time you figured out how to fix the toilet, learned how to knit or used a new technology? Was the accomplishment followed by feelings of joy accompanied with a happy dance or a fist in the air?
The chemical reaction that happens during the process of achieving success counters the effects of stress, wards off anxiety and improves sleep among other positive benefits. Our brains start to solidify by the age of 25, but each new technique and skill acquired creates new pathways in your brain, keeping your brain sharp and memory strong as you age. The more unfamiliar and complex, the more benefit to long-lasting memory and other cognitive functions. Beef bourguignon, anyone?
Along the way to success, the acceptance and welcoming of mistakes teaches us how to persevere, move beyond a fear of failure and maybe even discover something innovative along the way. We have corn flakes and chocolate chip cookies thanks to experiments gone awry.
If brain science and character building aren’t enough to inspire you, DIY projects deepen our connections to family and friends, and create pathways to new relationships. Alana Reynolds, coordinator of Grow Springfield, introduces DIY projects to her family as a way of cutting back screen time and encouraging participation in life instead of simply observing others live it. She says, “When my daughter helps plan the meal menus, shops for the ingredients, and then cooks with me, she feels a sense of responsibility for the dinner and enjoys the meal more. Plus, she realizes how much work is involved and recognizes a greater appreciation for what her parents do.”
Homegrown Fest features a vendor fair of educational and interactive activities, demonstrations, and sampling geared toward kids and adults including the LLCC culinary team instructing on knife skills, Grow Springfield offering a seed and book swap and a human-powered smoothie stationary bicycle, and more. Sixteen workshops with three adult tracks and a kids’ track range from beekeeping and knitting to succession planning and container gardening, from making cheese and pickles to kids in the garden and kitchen. The cost to attend is $10 in advance and $15 at the door for adults, kids are free.
For a workshop schedule and more information about Homegrown Fest visit www.growspringfield.org or call (217) 528-1563.
My mom made these for the farmers market and they make a tasty s’more, but are delicious on their own.
½ cup butter
½ cup agave syrup
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup graham flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Line two 18”X12” sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, agave and maple syrup until well combined and light in color.
Measure the flours, salt, baking soda and cinnamon and sift directly into the bowl. Beat until well combined.
Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a flat round. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove 1 chilled dough round from the refrigerator and unwrap. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. It should measure 9”X15” and be about 1/8” thick.
With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 12 to 14 squares (3”X3” each). Using a metal spatula, transfer the squares to one of the prepared baking sheets. With a fork, poke each cracker 3 times in a row down the center. Repeat with the second dough round.
Bake for 20-24 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on the baking sheets on a rack for at least 15 minutes. Remove the crackers to a flat platter and cool completely, at least one hour.
Basic Vegetable Stock
2 heads celery
1 large onion
1 head garlic
1 bunch parsley
10 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Chop scrubbed vegetables into 1-inch chunks.
Heat oil in a soup pot. Add onion, celery, garlic, carrots and parsley. Cook over high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add salt and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for one hour. Strain. Discard vegetables.
Other ingredients to consider: mushrooms, eggplant, asparagus (butt ends), corn cobs, fennel (stalks and trimmings), bell peppers, pea pods, chard (stems and leaves), celery root parings, marjoram (stems and leaves), basil, potato parings.
This was the best mustard I have ever had and I made it! It makes a great gift. Food Fantasies sells spices in bulk so you can purchase only what you need.
¼ cup brown mustard seeds
¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
¾ cup pale ale
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon minced sweet onion
½ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt, or more to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Put the mustard seeds and beer in a clean canning jar and let the seeds soak for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine, making sure the salt and sugar completely dissolve. Cover and refrigerate the mustard for one month.
After one month, put the mustard in a blender and blend on high until it reaches your preferred coarseness. Taste and add salt if needed.
Store in a tightly covered canning jar for up to six months.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Value-Added Local Food, Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, and Baking/Pastry, and non-credit cooking and food classes through our Community Learning Culinary Institute. For more information, visit our website at www.llcc.edu.