Dessert Edition! Plus #Scatico Blog!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Hey all!  It’s been so much fun interacting with these kids this year.  Last year I didn’t know what to expect.  This year my expectations (set by my over-achieving self!) were high.  It’s been so much fun having a whole new crop of kids this year, plus enjoying my minor upgrades, like the awning over the cooking cabin and the hydroponic tower garden, which continues to be a hit.  (We recently made lettuce wraps to go with the sushi the kids are now expert at making.)  But I wanted to include some photos of our fabulous desserts for this post.  In total, we’ve made chocolate chip cookies, S’more brownie bites, chocolate chip banana bread, mini red velvet cupcakes, and a lot of smoothies.  (Do you think those count as dessert?  I would qualify them as a healthy treat.  Dessert doesn’t have to be bad for you!)

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes

And while I apologize for my relative silence on the blogosphere, I urge you to check out Camp Scatico’s excellent blog about the activities at camp!  You will find updates about the infamous Scatico Color Wars, the CIT trip, Tribes and many other #Scatico traditions.  (Unfortunately, no pictures of desserts are featured.)

An annual favorite: the S'mores brownie bites!

An annual favorite: the S’mores brownie bites!

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Warning: Don’t Read This While Hungry!

Yum.

Back by special request, S’more Brownie Bites!!

First of all, my apologies for the long blog silence.  Herbnpeach has been remarkably busy this summer!  Usually city catering businesses slow down this time of year, but not for me. While keeping a handle on the New York end of things, I have challenged myself to make this year even better than last year for my #Scatico campers.  I am happy to report that, with the help of my amazing team, we are succeeding on all levels!

I have some really talented and dedicated cooks in my kitchen this year.  I can’t believe how much I love teaching kids how to do what I do.  I feel as though I get back so much from them!  Sometimes I literally get so much back from them, meaning in the form of food.  Let’s just say no one’s going hungry at Camp Scatico.  I hope you aren’t hungry right now, because the following dishes were just as delicious as they look…

Made with love.

Made with love.

In the first couple of classes, we took note of everyone’s allergies and talked about our favorite foods.  It turns out the campers have similar favorites: sushi, pickles, pizza, plus desserts.  (No surprise there.)  So we spent the next few weeks learning how to make our favorite foods.

The hydroponic garden tower has allowed me to really emphasize herbs this year.  We started with an herb tasting, but kicked it up a notch with fruit smoothies and some farm fresh snacks: kale chips and watermelon, feta with arugula salad.  The arugula was from our garden!

Keep an eye out for more photos, blog posts and details of our Camp Scatico adventures!!

Healthy snacks!

Healthy snacks!

Everyone loved making the sushi.

Everyone loved making the sushi.

The First Week of #CampScatico15!

Rules and Regulations

Rules and Regulations

To say that this week has been a whirlwind is an understatement.

Finding myself in the Camp Scatico’s serene setting after things were so hectic in New York City, I feel a little disoriented.  Not from the change of pace (we are PLENTY busy out here in the woods!), but due to the drastic change of gears.

Instead of serving Manhattan food editors and top chefs, I am teaching the pickiest people of all:  children.  Last year my cooking classes were a hit.  (Pat self on back!)  Can I repeat the success this year?  So much pressure!

The summer has definitely started off with a bang.  The Cook Shack is totally ready thanks to my amazing team of helpers.  The first lesson dealt with kitchen rules, of course.  My favorite rule:  have fun!  But my second favorite rule is, “If something drops, let it fall.”  I find that one useful throughout life.

Our futuristic hydroponic tower garden.

Our futuristic hydroponic tower garden.

I also decided to take some time to talk about the five senses.  I thought about doing it last year, but this year Camp Scatico has provided me with this SUPER COOL hydroponic tower garden.   We can see, touch, smell and taste all that it produces while they listen to what I share with them.  The kids are loving it, and so am I!

Pictures of the opening night campfire soon to come!

Camp Scatico: The Final Week

The umbrellas are gone!

The umbrellas are gone!

The end of camp was amazing!!  I made sure to see every group twice before the end of the summer, and I even squeezed in “optionals,” whereby the campers get to choose which activities they want to do most.  Not to brag, but in my case the counselors had to draw names because cooking was so popular.  (Actually, I guess that’s bragging, but I don’t care.  I love Camp Scatico, and Camp Scatico loves me.  Proud!)

Here’s a rundown of the last week.

Saturday, 8.9

The boys got a hold of my iPhone and took a panoramic of the kitchen.

The boys got a hold of my iPhone and took a panoramic of the kitchen.

Last day of classes!  I had the boys that day, and some stayed for lunch.  We had a pizza feast with homemade lemonade and s’mores brownies.  My last group included my nephew Matt, and we made a bunch of foods that he and his friends had requested earlier in the summer. Everything from chicken parmesan to French toast and mini muffins in between! The final day of cooking!

Sunday, 8.10

Day off for me.  Took advantage of my last weekend out of the City by staying at a bed and breakfast with a special someone.  😉

Monday, 8.11

Wrote end-of-camp letters, typed out some recipes.

Tuesday, 8.12

Begin clean-up and breakdown.  It was emotional and a decent amount of work, but I packed so that I could easily UNPACK because… drum roll, please… I want to make this happen again in the summer of 2015!  However, it was still very sad.  I cheered everyone up by taking my cooking team, Chef Chase and Chef Emma, out for Mexican!  They worked very hard and I couldn’t have asked for a better team this summer!

Wednesday, 8.13

Finished cleanup, which ended with an inspection. I managed to sneak out for a few Color War activities.  My friends and their kids competed in Green and Grey teams.

Thursday, 8.14

LAZY MORNING!  Everyone slept in; no activities scheduled until the afternoon.  I ran a part of an upper hill (older campers) co-ed day. My friend Mike (who ran the wood shop) and I hosted Scattergories– or in our case, Scatico-gories! 🙂

 

Friday, 8.15

candles

Kerri, Melissa and I prepping candles to send our wishes across the lake.

I helped the younger girls pack their trunks and packed a bit of my own bunk. Friday night was end of camp festivities. Boys and girls are separate for this. There was a banquet, awards, end-of-summer slide shows, and then a closing camp fire, with wishes and candles on the lake. This all went on past midnight, and then we went to a late-night snack in the girls dining hall. It was a lovely close to an amazing summer!

The Kitchen Name Revealed!!

This pizza is not Sal's, but it is the best pizza IN camp!

This pizza is not Sal’s, but it is the best pizza IN camp!

Drum roll, please….

 

So many good suggestions that we just couldn’t decide!  In the end we picked two: one for the inside of the cabin and one for the porch.

The actual cooking cabin is called The Cook Shack.  It was selected by an 11-year-old boy.  An 11-year-old girl chose the name of the porch, Scaticafe.  Don’t you love it?  It just so happens the two who gave the names were the same age. 🙂

I still need to reward them! I think they both want pizza from Sal’s, the best pizza near camp!

Carnival at Camp Scatico!

Pie Eating Contest at Carnival!

Pie Eating Contest at Carnival!

Forgive my delay in blogging about carnival.  Such a fun day!!

My Nephew in the Dunk Tank!

Carnival is an afternoon of co-ed activities where every group runs a “traditional” carnival booth.  This year we had a dunk booth, a kissing booth, a marriage booth, and a whole bunch of killer games.  There are prizes for winners, of course.  This year there was an ice cream truck!  These kids don’t know how good they have it… I mean, in my day… JK. 😉

My nephew in the dunk tank from another angle.  You can bet I got a lot of pictures of this!

My nephew in the dunk tank from another angle. You can bet I got a lot of pictures of this!

I helped decorate.  There was a World Cup theme.

I helped decorate. There was a World Cup theme.

“Mini” Camp Scatico

Mini Camp Spread“Mini-camp” is the Camp Scatico tradition whereby each camper gets to pick his favorite activity and do it all day.  The good news:  cooking was in high demand!  I have to admit this stoked my ego, at least until I figured out how much extra work that would mean for me.  Not that I mind, though!

For the ladies, we had two sessions:  one in the morning and one at night.  Props to Emma, my right-hand “Gal Friday” from the girls’ side.  We decided to do a tea party!  We made fun hats out of plates and ribbons and served finger sandwiches, scones, cookies, iced teas and mini berries and cream. The little girls were in heaven.Mini Camp Scones

The "after" picture of the boys' buffet.  No time to do a "before!"  Too hungry.

The “after” picture of the boys’ buffet. No time to do a “before!” Too hungry.

For the boys I chose a New Orleans theme!  Chef Chase, my main helper from the boys’ side, was away for the day (missed you, Chase!), but I was assigned four fabulous counselors in his place.  I had the boys all day long.  We started with a southern style breakfast of biscuits and gravy, eggs, cheese grits, chicken sausage and turkey bacon. (Camp Scatico keeps kosher.)  In the afternoon we made roast beef and turkey po’boys, and then for dinner we made a chicken gumbo, dirty and white rice, skirt steak (’cause the boys wanted steak), and beignets with caramel and chocolate sauces and bananas foster with a vanilla cream. Oh, wait– I almost forgot crowning touch, the faux-hurricane fruit punch! We all wore beads and during cleanup the boys played some poker. I loved how into it they got!  We were really living it up.

Beignet with toppings!

Beignet with toppings!

A great time was had by all.  Chalk up one more amazing Camp Scatico memory!

Me in action at Mini Camp!

Me in action at Mini Camp!

Camp Scatico Highlights!

Oh my gosh where do I begin?  It’s been super, super, SUPER busy at #CampScatico, which is how it should be!  July is FLYING by, and so much happens so quickly it’s hard to document it all.  Here is a list, in no particular order, of some of my favorite camp moments.

1.  The first tribal campfire!  What a day that was.  It brought back so many memories of when I was a camper.  (In many ways it felt like I had never left!)  The campfire kicks off a 3-week competition of four teams:  Flying Eagle (green), Blazing Arrow (red), Racing Wine (yellow) and Thunderbolt (blue).  FYI:  In my day it was a 4-week competition, but camp is a week shorter now.  😦

2.  The Girls’ NAT tournament!  There are tournaments for many sports, but the basketball tournament has always been a big deal.  My friend Patti’s daughter won MVP, which made it extra special.  #nextgeneration

3.  Camp visiting day.  Okay, so this day was really stressful for me, but so memorable and worth it.  David asked me to prepare samples of what the kids had been making.  Needless to say, this involved a lot of prep and a lot of cleanup, but it did allow me to show off a bit!  It was cool to meet the campers’ family, too– the ones I didn’t already know!  #nextgenerationagain

4.  The 4th of July BBQ, talent show and fireworks.  Feel free to disagree with me here, but 4th of July in New York City is no fun.  Even if you make it to a really awesome party, say, at Top of the Garden right in midtown, the crowds make this holiday totally overwhelming.  Getting anywhere is a nightmare.  The streets are full of drunk people, it’s way too hot, there’s no place to picnic… ugh.  This year the 4th was fun again.  I loved being surrounded by campers, reveling in old memories and creating new ones.  My Bed

5.  My cabin, or more specifically, my bed.  Every night.  ‘Nuff said.

 

Camp Scatico Recipe: Homemade Ricotta Cheese!

Ricotta Cheese

One of the biggest hits for the Camp Scatico kids was our homemade ricotta cheese.  I love it when the kids say they don’t like something, then we make it and they try it and they love it.  That means they’re growing!  Homemade cheese is easier than you think!  All a girl needs is a cheese cloth.  Read on…

Homemade Ricotta

Total Time: 43 min
Prep: 10 min
Inactive: 23 min
Cook: 10 min
Yield: about 2 cups
Level: Easy

Ingredients
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Directions
Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the lighter side, but some prefer it thicker.) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

 

 

Camp Motto: Be Prepared!

Strawberry, mint and lemon-infused water!

Strawberry, mint and lemon-infused water!

Anyone who’s spent any time at a summer camp will tell you that one of the lessons you learn is to be prepared.  A day’s mean sunburn will teach you to wear sunscreen.  A leg covered in bug bites will teach you to pack Off.  And seven weeks of cooking for hundreds of children means you have to prep, prep, prep!  I tested over 40 new recipes before I even got to camp!

Luckily, I had the help of Chef Derek, who caters part time with Herbnpeach.  Over five three-hour sessions, we tackled 42 different recipes (some multiple times) before coming up with a menu/syllabus for Camp Scatico.  I’ve shared pictures of some of our projects below.  Check back to see how all our hard work went over with the campers!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies.  99.9% sure the kids'll love these!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. 99.9% sure the kids’ll love these!

Mini S'more Brownie Bites:  the ultimate camper treat

S’mores Brownie Bites: the ultimate camper treat

Flourless chocolate cookies.  #yum

Flourless chocolate cookies. #yum

Homemade Pasta-- thanks Chef Derek!

Homemade Pasta– thanks Chef Derek!

Kale chips, pita chips and tzatziki

Kale chips, pita chips and tzatziki