IMMOKALEE — With the holidays just around the corner and families clamoring for some seasonal treats, 16 Tribal members attended a holiday cooking class in Immokalee Dec. 5 to get ideas and recipes.
Every participant had a hand in the cooking and baking. The group, including Allied Health staff that assisted the Tribal chefs, also made a healthy lunch of beef stew and colorful Asian slaw with warm ginger-lime dressing.
But the main event was the baked goods: chocolate biscotti cookies, amaretti cookies, soft amaretti cookies with lemon peel, pumpkin muffins and cranberry orange pistachio bread. The aroma of the hearty stew simmering on the stove mixed with the inviting scent of the baked treats filled the Immokalee culinary accelerator kitchen.
This was the second class Olivia Cypress took at the culinary accelerator. She enjoys learning to cook.
“I like tasting different foods I haven’t used before,” Cypress said. “It’s very interesting, but baking cookies from scratch is the most interesting thing; I had no idea I could do that.”
Under the tutelage of Tribal member and chef Lorraine Posada, Cypress and the rest of the participants were immersed in a slew of baking tips and facts. For example, salt isn’t meant for flavor in baking; it brings out other flavors and assists the rising process.
“When you’re cooking, you can play with the flavors,” Posada told the group as they baked. “Baking is a science and measurements are exact.”
Posada also explained the function of gluten, a protein that is formed in flour when it is moistened.
“You need gluten in baking, it’s like elastic,” Posada said. “It’s a network of proteins that act like a balloon and holds the gasses in to allow it to rise.”
When the food was ready, the crowd sat down for lunch followed by a few treats. The rest of the cookies, muffins and bread were packed up and sent home with the participants who worked so hard to create them.
“We want to emphasize that cooking can be healthy and food can be your medicine,” said Andrea Kuzbyt, health nutrition counselor.
“Tribal members really enjoyed themselves,” said Suzanne Davis, Allied Health program manager. “It’s always good to get people from other reservations together.”