UW student takes simple, fresh cooking from dorms to Farmer’s Market

April 7, 2015 | By Maija Inveiss

For most students living in the residence halls, it is easier to go to a dining hall or microwave a frozen meal rather than make homemade meals from fresh, local ingredients. Sarah Clifford, a sophomore at UW-Madison, is trying to change that practice through new cooking demonstrations at the Dane County Farmer’s Market.

Clifford works as an intern for Slow Food UW and the Dane County Farmer’s Market. Through both internships, she tries to teach the ideals of fresh, sustainable, local, fair food to students and the Madison community.

UW sophomore Sarah Clifford gives a cooking demonstration at the Dane County Farmer's Market in March 2015.As a dorm chef with Slow Food UW, Clifford holds cooking demonstrations and events in the campus residence halls to teach students how to make easy meals with fresh ingredients. The Dane County Farmer’s Market became interested in her demonstrations and worked with her to launch their own version as a new food and cooking series held at their indoor winter market.

“I think it is really cool that I will be able to expand what I am teaching to the residence halls to people who come to the farmer’s market,” Clifford says.

At the first Dane County Farmer’s Market demonstration, on March 21, Clifford focused on “Cooking without a Kitchen” to show how to use fresh ingredients in simple, microwavable meals.

Microwave cooking is a valuable skill for students in the dorms, Clifford says. Last year, she lived in a residence hall where the kitchen was located in a different building, so she became interested in using the microwave for quick and easy meals.

“When I am in the residence halls doing classes with students it’s very oriented around working around the constraints of dorm life. Sometimes you only have a microwave,” Clifford says. “You can go into the kitchen and make yourself a big meal, but realistically speaking, microwave cooking is what a kid in the dorm is going to do.”

In her March demonstration, she taught farmer’s market attendees how to make a Farmer’s Market Frittata and a Berry Crisp. Each of the recipes took a single minute of prep work and two minutes in the microwave. Clifford says her recipes are intended to be simple and easy so anyone can make them, and all the ingredients were available at the market.

Often markets or vendors hand out recipe cards, but a demonstration can help reinforce the use of local and fresh ingredients, Clifford says. “It shows people, here is what you can get from the farmer’s market and here is how you use it.”

Clifford will present another demonstration, “Reducing Food Waste Through Creative Cooking,” on April 11, at the Dane County Farmer’s Market at the Madison Senior Center (330 West Mifflin St.), the last indoor market of the season. Noting that many people are only familiar with using certain parts of produce items, Clifford will focus on using less-popular parts – such as broccoli stems – to eliminate food waste. The workshop will be offered at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.

Clifford’s demonstrations will be recorded and uploaded to the Dane County Farmer’s Market website so people can watch the videos at home and try to replicate the recipes.