Contributed By: Jené Watson
On Tuesday, May 9th the Peachtree Corners Branch and Chicas de Ciencia Caliente of Pinkneyville Middle School collaborated for no-cook food demo featuring many varieties of salsa.
The purpose of the event was twofold: to show the practical use of produce from GCPL’s Tower Gardens and to use food as a way to raise awareness about traditions that make up the cultural mosaic of Gwinnett County.
Chicas de Ciencia Caliente, a STEAM club whose membership is made up of sixth through eighth grade girls, is the brainchild of Natalie Edirmanasinghe and Karla Blaginin. “Overall, the purpose of this group is to help the girls gain skills that can help them in academia,” said Edirmanasinghe, a counselor at Pinkneyville Middle. She continued, “There is currently a gap in females of color who are in STEM careers, or conducting research. We want our CCC members to become more comfortable in navigating the system of higher education through research in a culture that they know.”
Using the featured ingredients of basil, chives, cilantro and parsley, mother-daughter teams of CCC prepared several salsas, or sauces, for attendees to sample. Sixth grader Isabella Terral and her mother Alexandra Terral prepared spicy South American vinegar-parsley based sauce, chimichurri as well as pesto. Seventh grader Sophia Vazquez and her mother Maria Salas made pico de gallo and guacamole. As another component of this mini project, eighth graders Selina Vega and Karina Gonzalez researched the nutritional merits of the featured ingredients and practiced their presentation skills by sharing their findings with the library audience.
“I wanted library patrons to understand the amazing nutritional value of the herbs in our Tower Garden,” said GCPL Library Associate Michelle Kirchner who coordinated the event. “Sure, they’re delicious and nice to look at, but I think the the most important thing is how good they are for our bodies.”
From The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America & the American South by Sandra A. Gutierrez
- 2 cups peeled and cubed fresh peaches (about 3 large peaches)
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
- 2 tablespoons minced jalapenos (seeded and deveined if less heat is desired)
- 1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
- 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
- Juice of 1 lime or to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, onions, cilantro, jalapenos, pimentos and lime zest. Add the lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Let the salsa sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend, or cover and chill until ready to use (for up to 24 hours). Makes 2 ½ cups.