I recently became involved with the Patachou Foundation’s Event Committee and I cannot say enough good things about the foundation and their work. I am thrilled to have been able to be a small part of the planning for their annual Speaker’s Forum and I am already looking forward to helping with future events.
As you can probably tell, I am passionate about good food and the community. Enter the Patachou Foundation. Their mission is to provide healthy meals to children impacted by homelessness and hunger. Volunteers work in Indianapolis schools a few times a week to serve healthy meals to kids that may not otherwise have access to fresh produce and a home cooked meal.
Not only do the volunteers serve the kids with a smile, they learn their name, teach them the importance of manners at the dinner table, and make sure the kids understand the difference between a freshly prepared meal with love and eating something convenient and often more accessible.
The Patachou Foundation is supported by donors, granting organizations, Public Greens, corporate sponsors, and hopefully YOU. Even if you missed the event this week, the foundation will always accept your support – monetarily or through volunteer opportunities. My fellow committee members are amazing. I anxiously look forward to our planning meetings and not just because there is usually Napolese flatbreads and dips to snack on. The people are what makes the foundation successful and able to make such a huge impact on Indianapolis.
The speaker for the forum was Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez, who founded Hot Bread Kitchen in East Harlem, NY. She empowers women through an employer-driven workforce development and business incubation program called Bakers in Training. Low income women receive compensation while receiving their training to eventually graduate from the program and work in a bakery in NY. An impressive 65% of their operating budget is funded through bread sales and kitchen rental.
It was a treat to hear her story – I loved that she followed her true passion of baking and could then link that passion to a fulfill a greater need in the community.
“The last time I was in Indy was for a Grateful Dead concert in 1995. Hoosier hospitality is a thing. I visited School 14 today with the Patachou Foundation and I saw a lot of high needs kids. 65% of kids that start school on day one, will not complete the school year. I’m telling you this to highlight the importance of the work of the foundation. We must step up to do more to ensure kids get the services they need.” – Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez
The Patachou Foundation provided 35 meals to school aged children in the first year (3.5 years ago) and they served over 650 meals this year. They expect to serve 1000 meals by next year.
I could go on and on, but the next time you’re dining at a Café Patachou, Napolese, Public Greens, Petite Chou…you can feel good about it! It’s more than just a restaurant brand – it’s a group of people working every day to create a legacy of service here in Indy.
Now, for the recipe. I cheated in the sense that I have not made this yet, but Public Greens catered the pre-event reception and they had these cute little rhubarb and cashew butter sandwiches. My boyfriend would have taken the entire tray if he could have. That’s what suit pockets are for anyways. My grandmother always grew rhubarb and I love the idea of having it in jam form.
A quick Google search tells me that others have figured out this winning combination of a more sophisticated pb&j, so here you go! You can buy cashew butter on Amazon or make it yourself. Throw some cashews in a blender (Vitamix is powerful enough to do this) and boom: cashew butter. They cut off the crusts for a retro old school vibe, but I am a crust fan.
For the jam (I halved the original recipe):
Recipe via Leites Culinaria’s
- 2pounds rhubarb, trimmed, rinsed, and cut into small chunks
- 2cups sugar
- ¾ cups water
- ½ lemon, halved and juiced, seeds reserved in a cheesecloth pouch or tea ball
Sterilize the jars and lids for canning by boiling them. Place a small plate in the freezer.
Place the rhubarb, sugar, water, and lemon juice, spent lemon halves, and lemon seeds (they provide the necessary pectin) in a large bowl and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, dump the rhubarb mixture in the bowl into a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, stirring the jam constantly, for about 15 minutes. Skim any foam from the surface of the jam as it cooks.
After 15 minutes, drop the heat to medium. You want to keep the jam at a constant simmer, stirring frequently, to make sure the jam isn’t scorched at the bottom of the pot. After a total of 30 minutes, check to see if your jam has set by placing a small spoonful of jam on the plate from the freezer. The jam is set when it holds its shape on the cool plate. If it seems loose, continue cooking over medium-low heat until set.
Remove the seed bag and lemon halves and compost them. Place the jam in sterilized jars, filling them to the bottom-most ring. Gently tap the bottom of each jar on the counter to release any air bubbles. Using a damp clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars and secure the lids and rings. Process in a water bath for 5 minutes if using pint jars, 10 minutes if using quart jars. Remove the containers with tongs and let cool on the counter. When the jam is cool, remove the metal rings, check for proper seals, and label with the date and contents. Store in a cool, dark cupboard until ready to use for up to 1 year.
*Here is a link to Leites Culinaria’s Canning 101.
I am pretty confident that sharing food with someone is an excellent way to communicate. So much can be conveyed through cooking.