I had a great time teaching at the 2013 Macrobiotic Summer Conference in the Netherlands put on by the Kushi Institute of Europe. The people there were very friendly, the food was good and the classes were fun. My wife Yukiko taught some excellent classes on desserts, Japanese cooking, and salads and spreads. My first class was on sourdough bread and focaccia. I brought some active starter from home in a vacuum flask, and fed it when I arrived. The next day, I began mixing dough and preparing ingredients for focaccia.
The flour there was different from what I use in the US. I had my choice of 70% gebuild tarwebloem, 85% gebuild tarwebloem and volkoren tarwemeel. These refer to percentages of whole wheat. Is it hard wheat or soft wheat flour? All-purpose flour? Essentially, I chose a mix of white flour, fine whole wheat flour and coarsely ground whole wheat meal. It worked. The dough rose, and the bread came out pretty well.
I was making bread and focaccia for students to sample in class. While waiting for the bread to rise, I started pickling vegetables to serve in a pickle making class later in the conference.
I let the focaccia rise in a pan, and it got very airy and light. I topped it with sautéed onions and garlic, black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil and fresh rosemary. It was tasty.Two days after my bread class, I gave a talk on the benefits and process of making fermented food. We discussed amazake, naturally-leavened bread, lacto-fermented vegetables, tempeh, natto and miso.The conference site is near the town of Helvoirt, surrounded by beautiful woods and farmland. Between teaching and preparing for our classes, Yukiko and I enjoyed taking walks around the area. We also sat in on some good classes by other teachers.
After a day trip to Amsterdam, I led a workshop on making condiments. We made gomashio (sesame salt) and kombu tsukudani (kombu seaweed cooked with soy sauce and other seasonings).
Next was the pickle making class. I demonstrated how to make sauerkraut, onion shoyu pickles, a kind of kimchi and tofu pickled in sweet white miso. The pickles I started a week earlier were ready for tasting.
After that, I gave a class on snacks and travel food. I showed how to make onigiri (rice balls) and three kinds of nori maki: futomaki (fat rolls), uramaki (inside-out rolls) and temaki (hand rolls).
My last class of the conference was on seasonal soups. I made a light, clear broth soup for summer, a sweet autumn pumpkin soup, and for winter, a hearty root vegetable stew with sourdough croutons.
Everyone I met at the event said they enjoyed the cooking classes, the lectures, the meals, and the overall warm family spirit. It was an inspiring Summer Conference!