Friday, July 7, 2017

Annual Cousins Day with Favorite Uncle "Chef" Brad

For a few years,  don't know how many,  I have posted about one of my very favorite events every summer.  That would be the Cousins Cooking Day.  My family is large, lots of family and a whole bunch of nieces and nephews.  One of my greatest joys has been to be a uncle.   I love all my nieces and nephews.  When they were all younger I bribed, begged, tickled, and brain washed them that my name was "Favorite Uncle Brad",  not Uncle Brad, but Favorite Uncle Brad.   It took years, but I finally convinced them that was my name.  It's been years and now the second generation has come along and I did such a great job with the first generation that there is no question with this generation that I am Favorite Uncle Brad.  Add inviting them each year to a cooking day and there is no doubt, I win.  

My nieces and nephews are amazing, but their children are outstanding.  Wow.  Each year I have the best time as I watch them work together with each other.  I am amazed at how well they get along and how well they support each other.  The older ones support and encourage the younger ones and they listen. 

Last year we had a cake competition.  It was an amazing event.  The cakes were fantastic and so creative.  Each year that we do this we try to do a culinary outing.  The outing is usually to  some place fun that they don't go to often, we  buy ingredients and have a cooking challenge.  This year it was a salsa competition.  I gave them the rules and guidelines and off we go to a local store to purchase all they might need.  This year we went to Pro Ranch Market in Mesa.  After we purchase everything we go back home and they do their thing and then they are judged and in the process I teach them ways to improve or do it different.  It's a great time to teach and inspire them. 

Since we were doing Salsa this year, I took them to one of my favorite markets.  Pro Ranch Market in Mesa, Az, the corner of Stapley and Southern.  Its a great store.  We walked in and to our amazement the manager Ariel took over.  He was amazing.  He actually went out of his way to accommodate our group.  When he found out what we were doing he dropped what he was doing and did everything in his power to make sure we have a great time.  Best customer service I have seen in a long time.  He was delightful and captured the children's complete attention. 

The children had an amazing time.   So did the adults, I love doing this every year.  One of my best activities every year for sure.  Watching them create and discover what they can do is amazing. 

Below is a small photo visual of what happened.  Enjoy 

Arriving at Pro Ranch Market.  The children are so excited.  They are in teams of four
and there are four teams.  They were able to plan before we arrived.  Now
they get to purchase what ever they need to create their salsa recipes. 

Wonderful Group of Nieces and Nephews

The manager took over and feed them all samples of guacamole.  Actually amazing guacamole.  

Shopping and sampling. 

The manager, Ariel, showing off his roasted green chilies.  Come to find out they roast
all different variety of chilies.  They are amazing they have them all the time.  

My new good friend,  Ariel.  

In line to pay for the food.  So many ingredients, so much fun ahead. 

The baskets are full of flavor.  From fruit to juice they have a plan. 

This was the highlight of the day.  Ariel gave us a great tour of just how tortillas are made.  Did you know
this location makes over ten thousand tortillas every day.  Amazing.  And they are great tortillas. 

Enjoying the tour.  Look at those faces.  They loved it. 

Teaching moments. 

This machine is amazing.   They put the fresh corn masa in it and it rolls out tortillas.  They start with dry corn and
finish with great tortillas. 

Of course Ariel knows that feeding a group is the best way to keep them happy. 

They loved the tortillas.  Fresh and hot 

Does anyone want more?  Of course. 

I love those happy faces. 

Of course if you go there you have to try the traditional "Aguas"  fresh fruit or nut
flavored waters.  Ariel and his staff let my group try the flavors before they choose
their own drink.   I loved the pistachio and the cantaloupe.  

Even the big kids loved the experience. 

Back at the house the competition begins.  These children are so intent on what they are doing.
I love this. 

Creating a fruit salsa.  They were so creative.

Another group in the back room whipping up a great salsa. 

This group was hard at it.  I Loved it.

Ok, four groups and each group without any help created four different salsa's.  Top left, Black bean and corn.  Top right fruit salsa, with a hint of cinnamon.  Was so cool.  Bottom left, a wonderful traditional salsa with fire hot crumbled doritos.
Bottom right, a sweet tomatillo salsa.   Honestly they were all four amazing.  Hard for the judges to judge because they were outstanding, each one different, but amazing.  

Enjoying relaxing after a hard fun morning.  We enjoyed the salsa on fresh cheese crisps.  


Next generation of Chef Brad Foodies

Another treasured year.  I love being an uncle, great uncle so much.  can't wait until next time.  
Once again I am amazed at the power of food and just how it can bring us together.  Every time I do an event like this I am reminded that we need to take more time cooking and spending time with those we love in the kitchen.  Cooking can bring out the best in us and creates memories that last forever.

Every year I learn more and more about how much fun can be.  I hope in your personal lives you are creating opportunities with friends and family to create great lasting fond food memories.

Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy