Galena event demonstrates how to cook tasty veggies

Brussells sprouts

By PAUL HUNTINGTON, Special to the Hawk Highlights

Are Brussells sprouts your favorite food?

They may be, after Danielle Flaherty roasts them. A free event on a Sunday evening in late September at the Galena city pool kitchen highlighted her skills and vegetables which grow well in Galena.

This visiting chef from Fairbanks presented several dishes demonstrating how to turn vegetables that kids traditionally dread into food they love. Her trick was to roast them. She explained that roasting brings out the natural sugar in the vegetable.

Adding a touch of salt reduces the moisture, allowing the sugar to caramelize on the outside of the vegetable. As Julia Child taught, do not crowd your roasting vegetables, because this causes them to become mushy and unappetizing. The Brussells sprout is like a tiny cabbage with many leaves compressed into a tiny ball.

The Brussells sprout grows on a stalk with many sprouts popping out the sides. Before it is roasted, it is crisp and bright green and has flavor a bit like cauliflower. After roasting it has a touch of golden brown at its edges. Everyone ate with a smile and went back for seconds.

Other guests included Johanna Herron, coordinator for Alaska’s Farm-to-School program and a local celebrity, Sable Scotton, winner of the Healthy Lunch Challenge.

Sable was the recent guest of First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House lunch. Sable presented two of her favorite healthy dishes.

One of those dishes started with slicing fresh kohlrabi or turnip into thin sticks and spritzing them liberally with lime juice is a lovely alternative to carrots sticks. Her family likes them with a bit of salt or spicy, with chili pepper.

The Farm-to-School program plans to supply Alaskan schools with food grown or harvested in the state. This will improve the nutritional food options in the Interior and the northern regions by bringing in vegetables from the Palmer area and Southeast. The program also provides information to schools and families about how to obtain and use the foods. Fresh foods are tastier.

Finally, a shorter transport distance keeps the food fresh and avoids wasted fuel. Johanna Herron said this was the “win, win, win of better nutrition, increased education and less environmental expense.” Her personal goal is to raise good Alaskan farmers.

This visit to Galena was a prelude to bigger things. The Galena City School District is forming a wellness committee to review nutrition and physical activity in our schools and Danielle Flaherty is publishing a cookbook of recipes specially researched for school kitchens. These recipes are meant to take Alaskan-grown foods in to school kitchens, by making the dishes easy to prepare on a large or small scale, inexpensive, delicious and nutritious.