Tracy Reilly Kelly

Blog Posts

The Careful Chemistry of Baking – Simplified!

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had flat cookies, swore at rolling out pie dough or ruined a baking recipe because you fudged a little on the ingredient ratios. My hand is wildly up! Cooks are usually divided into the “free spirits” who saute and the careful chemists who bake. Sometimes I say “pshaw!” to even trying to bake, yet the gorgeous fruits of summer or Thanksgiving beckon, my kids or co-workers need a birthday surprise – and I wish I had a better handle on this baking thing…..

I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve all had our share of baking issues and run into unfamiliar ingredients or problems that have left us scratching our heads. So I interviewed Gayle Starbuck, our Cooking School star of Cheese Making and an accomplished Baker. Gayle will be offering a class designed for Beginning Bakers 101 on April 19 & 26th. I need that class! Here are a few things I learned from Gayle:

Tracy: How come baking needs to be so very exact?

Gayle: A recipe for baked goods is like a formula. Substitutions don’t work because the ingredients must work together exactly or the product will be too dense, tough or fall apart – measuring and weighing are examples of must do actions.

Tracy: Gayle, you to me that “It’s all about the flour” What does that mean?

Gayle: Flour gives body and structure and contains gluten protein. The quantity and quality of each flour’s proteins determines how it will perform. There are many flours to choose from and they have a different range of protein content.

Tracy: Does it matter what kind of butter or shortening I use? Does butter really go bad?

Gayle: Yes, salt is a preservative and it can mask "off flavors". Unsalted butter is usually fresher. Using it means you can control the amount of salt in a recipe. Bad butter can be detected by slicing it - the outside will have a different color than the inside.

Tracy: What about using cocoa to bake? Is there any specific kind?

Gayle: There is a difference between Dutch-processed and natural cocoa powder. The difference is acid. It’s worth understanding. Look at the recipe. Does it call for a majority of baking powder or baking soda? If the recipe is mostly leavened by baking powder, reach for the Dutch-processed cocoa. If it’s a baking soda heavy recipe, go for natural cocoa powder!

There is so much to learn about baking! We have only scratched the surface. Try our cooking classes at our fantastic Kitchen Classroom at our eastside campus at 18700 SE Mill Plain. We have a blast! This Spring check out Spanish cooking, Herbal and Plant Infused Oils, Cooking Wild Mushrooms and Thai Curries in Hurry.

Next Chapter: Mature Learning Re-imagines Its Next 40 Yrs

Last year Mature Learning celebrated its 40th Anniversary and we looked back at our “glorious past”. Now it is time to ponder what will the future of our program look like. And, what is “next” in issues ranging from the personal to the political? On March 25th – 9 to Noon at Clark College at CTC, 18700 SE Mill Plain Blvd Rm, we will use offer a Symposium to explore these issues with mini-lectures from great instructors. Session topics include: “What’s Next in Your Life” with Bill Ritchie; “What’s Next in Brain Research: How Technology Will Transform Us” - David Benedicktus; “What’s Next to Reinvigorate Your Diet- Tracy Reilly Kelly; “What’s Next in Afghanistan” - Ishtiaq Khan and “Prelude to Prelude to the Civil War” – Douglas Tracy. There is a $10 registration fee. What got me thinking about the future is the book Now You See It by Cathy M. Davidson. It is this year’s book for the Vancouver citywide reading program called #nextchapter, which will be launched on March 5th at Vancouver’s City Hall. Davidson’s ideas about how current brain research about attention and focus reveals implications for the digital age really fits in with studies on Aging & the Brain we have been offering. Many people say that “seniors” are not using the web and social networking, but that is no longer true – at all. In fact, the majority of students signing up on our Continuing Ed website are people over age 50. Keeping in touch with family and seeing photos are the number one pursuits. In Mature Learning many students are thrilled when instructors send extra reading, websites and links to them at home. This changes the face of education because so many more materials and research can be shared as both copyright and printing costs are barriers to classroom distribution. Travel agencies are going out of business because people of all ages plan their trips on the web. As people age and become less mobile, the web and online learning offer compelling distraction and community in a very unique way. Even for the “longtime resistors” who think that the computer is just too complex, I think a change will be coming. Lack of mobility can produce isolation. Personally, I love talking to people but that is because I have the luxury of mobility. Think of what you would have said 30 years ago if someone predicted that everyone would be walking around with a phone in their pocket! The iPad, tablets & phones are transformative (Check out classes taught by Gary Hays!) As each application (app) becomes easier, it astonishing to think how our brains will thrive with this connectivity. Our brains, (and computers are in awe of our own circuitry) are designed to multitask and we as humans thrive on complexity. At Mature Learning, complex ideas are thrilling.

Commemoration: 150th Anniversary Gettysburg Address - November 19th

 

Delivered four months after the battle, Lincoln’s two minute rhetorical masterpiece became one of history’s most celebrated speeches about freedom, devotion and sacrifice. Join Mature Learning, in partnership with the National Park Service, to commemorate this legendary occasion with an exciting program of history and music at Clark’s Foster Auditorium from 1-4pm. Scholar Elliott Trommald will deliver a lecture on Lincoln and his times as well as the speech’s legacy of meaning. Civil War musician “Illinois” Doug Tracy will play authentic music. Answering documentarian Ken Burn’s call for Americans to “Learn the Gettysburg Address”, a diverse set of persons, including Mayor Time Leavitt, Associate VP Kevin Kussman, religious leader Bill Ritchie, Foundation President Lisa Gibert, Mature Learners and Clark College staff will deliver the address itself. And, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Superintendent Tracy Fortmann will talk about an exciting new exhibit at Fort Vancouver, opening on the same day, called “The Civil War in the West”.  Archaeological excavations have unearthed Civil War artillery sent to safeguard the Union’s position the Vancouver Barracks in the event of the war moving westward.

 In November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln was invited to deliver remarks, which later became known as the Gettysburg Address on the site of one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles of the Civil War. Though he was not the featured orator that day, Lincoln's 273-word address would be remembered as one of the most important speeches in American history. In it, he invoked the principles of human equality contained in the Declaration of Independence and connected the sacrifices of the Civil War with the desire for "a new birth of freedom," as well as the all-important preservation of the Union created in 1776 and its ideal of self-government.

 Foster Auditorium is at Clark’s West campus, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, there is free parking at Red Parking lots. To register for this one day course, call 360.992.2939 or visit online at http:cce.clark.edu/mature-learning-55. For information about his and other Mature Learning programs contact Program Manager Tracy Reilly Kelly at 360.992.2163 or tkelly@clark.edu.

 

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: COACH DAY TRIPS!

 For years Mature Learning students went on lively day or evening trips guided by vibrant instructors with opportunities to connect and socialize while learning.  Now Clark College has purchased a beautiful, brand new 30 passenger coach bus so we are off for fun this Fall!  Look under Excursions under Mature Learning courses for all of the listings – or call 360.992.2939 to register by phone.

Laugh, learn, and lunch in October…   Our most exciting excursion will be with Fort Vancouver’s Head Archaeologist Doug Wilson to Fort Clatsop. Doug “re-discovered” the site of the Lewis & Clark encampment. Doug will also take us behind the scenes of other sites of European exploration, as well as ancient Chinook artifact sites in and around Astoria. We will lunch at Fort George Brew Pub.  Love theatre? Escort/ designer Par Rohrbach takes us to Lakewood Theatre’s hilarious Monty Python “Spamalot” send up musical, October 6th, including dinner at Portland’s Bistro Montage.  Pat tells what it takes to mount a production and about the actors and director from New York, whom she knows.

Portland’s cosmopolitan scene is mined in three fantastic many destination coach tours. On October 28, join ace cook/educator Tracy Reilly Kelly on a “Portland Foodie Tour” to visit some of the outstanding food shops in Portland, lunching at one of the famous “Food Cart Pods”.  Email Tracy at tkelly@clark.edu if you have a specific item to find - she will know where to get it! Wish you could buy more arty, unique gifts? Get ready for the approaching holiday season in December touring a variety of art galleries in Portland, guided by our resident "Art Goddess", instructor Susie Cowan, on December 10, visiting the galleries and Pearl District all dressed in holiday elegance. Susan will offer a map and suggestions for walking tour. Lastly, on December 16, join Tracy again for a shopping tour in Portland to shopping areas along Mississippi Av and the Alberta Arts District where we will continue the elegant Bohemian arts chic!

TOP NEW FOOD TRENDS OF 2013

What will be new and what’s passé for food in the next year?  Let’s investigate what the futurists say.  I consulted several sites, including Epicurious, the Food Network, Forbes magazine and international food and restaurant consultant group Baum & Whiteman's annual report on food and dining trends, which came out this month. They all bring up some keen points about what's to come next year.  

Trend #1 – HEALTH – no surprise here, but will this be the year that people start eating really healthy and stop just talking about it? Boomers are pushing this envelope – and they will continue to influence trends as they have all done all of their lives.  A special focus will be on intake of antioxidants. Look for more heart-healthy antioxidant-rich foods including omega -3 rich fish such as salmon, and green tea, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, popcorn, berries and whole grains to take over supermarket shelves. Our cooking school has always had a focus on health.  Join up and make your new year’s resolution to take a class, including Weight Loss Cookery, Low Carb/ Diabetic Cookery or Weight Loss Success Strategies

TREND #2FERMENTATION & PICKLING – Those of us who enjoy sour are in for a fantastic year.  Fermented cherry juice and sour beer? In 2013, yes! Food palates are moving beyond sweet, salty and fatty to tart, acidic, and bitter. Heart healthy anyone? The transformative powers of fermentation of beverage is a well-known fact for red wine, but foods can also exhibit extra health benefits through fermenting.  Pickling is a super low calorie way to make veggies burst with excitement. 

TREND # 3 VEGETABLES - 2013 will be the year of vegetables. It’s time to make veggies the star of your meal. Meatless Mondays are a great way to get the whole family involved.  People think that it’s too hard, but really it’s only because of inexperience.  The more practice you get the more you will discover that meat isn’t essential.Veggies are even in dessert!  

TREND #4 – APPS FOR COOKING & SHOPPING - mobile and sensor technologies will reshape the way consumers interact with and purchase food. There are even personal size sensors to test the ‘transparency” of food product claims - whether a food is organic or to learn where and how to buy antibiotic free meats or what products have GMO ingredients.  

TREND #5GLOBAL COMFORT FOOD.  People do love to try ethnic flavors.  When winter beckons, slow cooking, braising and roasting come to mind.  Putting together comfort flavors with Asian and Latin food will explode.  Look for combinations like Mac and Cheese with Chorizo or pork rillettes, multi-ethnic burgers, new versions of Asian noodle dishes or fried chicken with new ethnic twists.

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS: SWEET & SAVORY

People have so many versions of holiday memories – my favorite ones are around food. While western traditions celebrate Christmas, Earth’s people all gather around midwinter tables with different kinds of celebrations that center around savory taste sensations. Winter is time for roasting, slow cooking and cookies and candies. Food produces memories that resonate with so many senses. What are yours?
In Mexico people celebrate Las Posadas – these are nine fiestas celebrated from December 16 till December 24. The Posada fiestas represent Joseph and Mary's arduous pilgrimage on their way to Bethlehem, and there are nine - to symbolize Mary's nine months of pregnancy. Learn to make awesome tamales and punches from Edurne Garcia Andre’s Mexican Christmas.
Kids love sweets – make new family holiday traditions with them. At the Cooking School we have Clark Baking Dept's Alison Dolder and master Ian Titterton teaching Glorious Christmas Cookies and Heavenly Candymaking. Give joyful gifts of specialty homemade treats!
When you are invited to holiday parties do you bring the same old dishes, year after year? We’ve got you covered for creativity! Be the most popular guest at the party by bringing Phyllo Appetizers for the Holidays and Sparkling Wines and Easy Appetizers.
Don’t let Christmas or Chanukah get the best of you! We’ve got a better way – let the holidays become manageable with professional organizer Kathy Young in Countdown to Christmas!
Lastly, my personal memories around the holidays are about my grandmother. I have a wise tip from her. She would set her table the day before. Not only did this reduce the hassle on the big day, but with her favorite entertaining word, she wanted it to look “elegant”. Each season I try to channel her! Lots of people no longer know what fork goes where, but there is good sense in correct table setting. Use this chart for settingfrom Emily Post and pass it on! Anyone can make a table elegant with evergreen boughs, ribbon and holly – it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Feliz Navidad!

Fred Aspler and the Advisory Council

Read on for another page from Bob Williamson's 20th ML Anniversary address:

Fred Apsler rightly deserves credit for the birth of the program we commemorate today, but from the beginning he understood the importance and value of a citizen’s advisory council. The original committee he brought together shared his commitment to education as a lifelong quest. Yet the work wasn’t all serious – Fred leavened everything he did with a sense of flair and fun. It showed up even in his notes to council members, including this one to Lynn Degerstedt:
“Your Lordship… I am extremely disconsolate about not having found your exalted person present in the flesh. Our mini-course for over-aged students was successfully concluded yesterday. Reaction was enthusiastic, and there were piteous cries for more. I crave an audience with your Lordship to get something going. The hot lunch people are very eager to furnish more educational food to the aging masses. Would you deign to call this humble subject on Monday morning to indicate when I can present myself to your illustrious Lordship for an audience? Most humbly and respectfully and always, day or night, at your service, Fred A.”
Fred, his illustrious Lordship and the other members of the advisory council successfully led the transition from the early seminars of “Perspectives on Aging” to the academic curriculum of “focus On Mature Learning.” Full-time college instructors were mixed with professionals in the community to offer and teach courses on local history, interpersonal relationships, current events, psychology, and conversational languages. These early classes flourished, and effectively strengthened the program’s support with the college faculty, the administration, and the advisory council itself.
By 1977, "Focus" was growing, as was Fred’s pride in his creation. He was also finding at this time that his itch for travel and study was stretching an already crowded schedule. As a result, Fred stepped down as the day-to-day coordinator of Focus on Mature Learning but accepted the position of chairman of the advisory council. He would never be far away from the program he loved.

Photo note: This isn't Fred Apsler - it's another Clark County legend - Dan Ogden at the FDR Memorial.  I took this on one of our spectacular DC travel trips!

Mature Learning's 40th Anniversary: How it Began

We begin a four part series on the history of Mature Learning. This blog is written by guest columnist Bob Williamson. Bob wrote this as a keynote address at the ML 20th Anniversary convocation. Bob is currently VP of Administration at Clark College.
The 20th anniversary of the Focus on Mature Learning program is really the celebration of one man’s restless devotion to teaching and learning. That man is Dr. Alfred Apsler, known less formally to his friends and colleagues – which were many – as Fred. He was a writer and educator all of his adult life, a distinguished instructor at Clark College, and chairman of the Social Sciences division. But by 1971, Fred faced an unpleasant and unwanted prospect: mandatory retirement at age 65.
A longtime associate – Lynn Degerstedt – recalled that Fred approached retirement with something resembling a “mild rebellion”. He had too much drive, too much energy, to suddenly end a life’s work. He loved the Clark College community and wanted to to continue his relationship with the people and the institution. In late 1971, two opportunities emerged: leading the Clark College Foundation or developing educational seminars for older adults.
Fred was an academician by training and passion, so the choice was easy. He conferred with first with George Telisman, then coordinator of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, later director of the Area on Agency on Aging. George suggested organizing programs for others, who like Fred, were heading uneasily into retirement. With characteristic zest, Fred seized the idea, secured community support for it from community leaders and the College and quickly began promoting a collection of seminars called “Perspectives on Aging”.
The first gathering in the fall of 1972 attracted 200 older citizens, each eager to learn about life in retirement, and to share their experiences and viewpoints with one another. This “convocation” (a favorite format of Fred’s) began with a social event, moved on to a general address by a featured speaker and concluded with smaller, breakaway seminars on more specific topics. By any measure, Fred’s inaugural event – the precursor to today’s Focus on Mature Learning program – was an enormous success.
Success, of course, only fueled Fred’s enthusiasm, sp another session was scheduled for Spring of 1973. Subject matters ranged from “Adventure and Discovery Near and Far” to “Age and Mental Health”. The whole series, coordinated by Fred and George Telisman, cost but $1.00 for senior participants. There were signs, though, that changes in “Perspectives in Aging were imminent. A slogan at the bottom of the program used during the spring event read: “let’s Keep Those Brain Cells Moving, and Age Will Never Be a Burden”. These words signified a move towards classes that ventured beyond just the mysteries of retirement and aging. After one more year of “Perspective on Aging”, the program changes its name and emphasis to “Focus on Mature Learning”.
Next month: How Fred Apsler created the current program model during the 1980’s.

WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS – AND FOOD!

 

As a confirmed “Foodie”, I’ve always wanted to go to Paris – the capital of gastronomy.  And now I have!  In a series of blogs I’m going to talk about food in France, and Europe, comparing and contrasting it to what we have here.  In Paris I had many chances to immerse myself in a culture that has reverence for not only the preparation of glorious food, but also enjoying food, with extended time sitting in cafes - not in a hurry as in the States. Food is about the enjoyment of life just as much as the gustatory pleasures.  When you sit in the outdoor café with a friend or lover you experience what the French call “Le Petit Moment” – life is not about some wild pursuit, but rather the enjoyment of the “little moment” – and everyday life offers us this in dining, which can be a frequent peak experience.  Our Food and Wine classes are all about the delectable delights of good eating.  Look at food preparation as an utterly accessible, everyday joy, not as a chore.  Come with me now, to Paris!

What is it that the French know about using fresh, quality ingredients and what can we in the Pacific NW learn from them?  This month, in Paris I went on a “Gourmet Walking Tour” from the prestigious “Promenades Gourmandes” Cooking School.  Our brilliant guide, Betty Edery Bitton took us to her favorite shops – legendary for offering the very best!  Travel with me at my class “La Cuisine Parisienne” and I’ll “take” you to rue Montorgueil and La Fermette with its staggering array of cheeses and teach you the real way to put together a cheese plate. We’ll also pay tribute to Julia Child for her 100th birthday this year.  You know, French cooking is more about respect for the steps and ingredients than that it is difficult. Our instructor Lucy Vaserfirer has a marvelous capacity to explain how something like a spectacular Crème Brulee can become easy.  It’s all about timing – take her "Baked Custards" class to see.

Let me tell you what I saw on my gourmet tour:  luscious, glistening seafood….produce palettes of gorgeous vegetables arranged in inviting displays… oh so crusty baguettes at Kayser!  Each morning at our B & B our hostess went to the bakery, or bread, brioche or croissants – you could recreating that kind of experience at our "Artisan Bread Baking" class with Clark Baking instructor Melanie Templeman. Try to imagine the boutique wonder of Jacques Genin, Patisserie & Chocolaterie – a stunning gallery where I purchased chocolates with real mint and lavender - stay tuned for more on that experience in another blog!

In France and in Europe you look for the AOC: Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. This label enables customers to recognize high-quality products from a guaranteed region of origin, created to promote not only quality but also traditional production methods in the food sector. It is mainly applied to wines and cheeses.  When we teach our classes at the Food and Wine Program we also teach you how to shop, how to distinguish the better product form another.  As you learn more about what is quality, you open up your whole set of senses. It’s hard to have these kinds of experience in Vancouver because we have a supermarket culture.  But one can come close to experiencing this kind of quality by growing your own garden or going to the Farmer’s Market, patronizing a Community Supported Agriculture or going to stores like Whole Foods, New Seasons or Chuck’s Produce.  When Fall term begins, definitely make the Clark College Bakery a regular stop! It's as close as you can get to Paris in Vancouver!

 

Gluten Intolerance: Could This Be Me?

One of the most common eating concerns I hear is about gluten intolerance and food sensitivities. Many people are learning that common foods, including wheat, rye, barley, as well as any foods made with these grains can create a toxic reaction in a sensitive person.

So how do you know if you are one of those people? And, once diagnosed, what can you do about it? Education is the answer. Learn all you can and be sure that they are from credentialed sources as the friend down the street may have an incomplete understanding and pass that on. You have two needs, one is medical and the other is how to figure out what you CAN eat.

We are featuring two classes in July and August on Gluten Free Living: The Basics and Gluten Free Desserts from Shawnte Yates of Whole Foods Markets. You can’t ask for a better set of classes! Your challenge is to prepare yummy foods and not feel deprived – and we can help you! Shawnte is a medical student at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and she is very knowledgeable about this condition. Shawnte has prepared awesome materials for this class – here are some things that I learned from her.

What is gluten anyway? It is the insoluble protein piece in wheat and other grains that gives dough its tough elastic character. How do you know if you are sensitive? You will have unpleasant GI symptoms (diarrhea, constipation, gas/bloating). Perhaps as many as 1 in 56 people have this symptom. Our cave ancestors never ate gluten – it was part of the earliest agrarian revolution when people first began to raise crops. Eating grain products is a more modern diet so not everyone has the body action to break down gluten.

Gluten intolerance has its highest prevalence in people of western European descent and women are 3 times as likely to be diagnosed with gluten intolerance; up to 5% of these may have Celiac Disease. Some people are not only gluten intolerant, they also have Celiac Disease, which is an autoimmune disorder in which the body responds so negatively to gluten it is damaging.

How do you know if you are just intolerant or have celiac disease? You cannot, based on symptoms alone. So, gluten sensitivity is used to describe people who feel better when they are gluten free but whose laboratory results do not fit them into Celiac Disease. Try eliminating gluten for a few weeks and see how you feel, that will put you on the road to learn more!