Home Base Cooking Program

Home Base Cooking began as a culinary training program for Child Nutrition staff members.  The “train the trainer” model was set up for staff members to learn best practices from one another in a fun way.  Just like in the game of tag when you’re at Home Base you’re safe and when you’re T.A.G.G.E.D. you’re “it”. Together Achieving Good Grub Education & Development (T.A.G.G.E.D).  Learn more about Home Base program here…

Home Base Cooking Program


#ShowWhatYouGrow is a social media promotion set up as an educational tool in support of urban agri-culture, Perma-culture, Poly- culture and your living culture. If you’re into compost creation and companion planting let’s connect here and share our common roots.

If you’re a home gardener or small plot farmer and like taking photos of your vegetables and flowers, herbs, etc. this is a great way to inform others who may not be aware of how these foods are grown. Help us become more connected with our food and realize that it wasn’t born on a supermarket shelf.

It’s easy to start! All you need to do is set up an Instagram or Facebook account if you don’t have one already, start snapping pics of your veggies and hashtag(#) whatever the item is as well as #showwhatyougrow. Then send your pics to the @showwhatyougrow page on Facebook or on Instagram.

Connect with others in your city by using the #SWYG”yourcity” tag. Example-#SWYGRaleigh #SWYGTennesse, #SWYGBuffalo, etc.

Click the highlighted link below to get started…..


Community Cookbooks

Community cookbooks are a great way to document culture within any given neighborhood.  Currently, the Common Roots Project is coordinating the first Downtown Raleigh Community Cookbook (DTRCC).  Invitation letters have been sent out to restaurant Chefs as well as people working within the downtown community who are involved in organizations making positive changes within the Raleigh food scene.

Block Parties

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Belvedere Park Community Stew Crew On December 14th, 2014 at 1pm, the neighbors of the Blevedere Park area of Raleigh, NC held a small block party to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club on Raleigh Blvd.  $400 was raised in exchange for delicious bowls of warm stew.  The money will go toward helping teens with annual fees for the new teen club that was built this past August. The stew offerings of the afternoon were Brunswick, Gumbo, Ajiaco, and Pozole.  When thinking about the unique offerings and considering the origination of the recipes and the ingredients used in them I began to think of some of their interesting similarities.

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Brunswick stew is often disputed with some discrepancy about where it’s originated from but it’s either Brunswick, Virginia or Brunswick, NC. When diving through some of my cookbooks, I found some great information thanks to Bill Neal, The Lee Brothers, Robert Stehling, and Evan Jones.  Many recipes for the brunswick stew had an ingredient list that included potato, corn, butter or lima beans, okra, tomato, and originally some type of game meat but typically chicken, rabbit and or pork.  As I thought about this list of ingredients, I realized that all the other soups had at least one in common.

Gumbo typically, or traditionally has okra as an ingredient.  You may or may not like Okra, it’s often served fried in some type of batter in the South but when it’s not crisped from being fried it can have a bit of a slimy texture.  It is used as a natural thickener and works wonders in a stew like Gumbo.  Okra, the vegetable, originates from Africa and the word okra literally translates to Gumbo in French.  The French colonized much of West Africa and this is one of the many ingredients brought to Louisiana via the slave trade.  Gumbo to me is another very unique recipe that combines multiple cultures and influences in one pot.  The American stew hails from Louisiana and is known as a true Creole concoction meaning that it has some type of mash up from Native American, French, Spanish, and African cultures.  The technique of adding a roux (mixture of cooked flour and fat) is very french in technique and with a Gumbo it is often a much darker roux than a traditional french variation.  Our neighbors Mike and Megan Gilger, the couple behind the creative studio Wild Measure ( came through with the Gumbo and Corn bread.  Mike has family in the Louisiana area and used his Grandmothers recipe.

Ajiaco is a Colombian stew that highlights the potato as well as corn, chicken, a special herb called Guascas and various condiments which include capers, sour cream, and herbs.  The potato originates from this region of the world.  Corn is a common ingredient shared between the Pozole, Brunswick and Ajiaco stew.  Hominy, one of the main ingredients in Pozole (a Mexican stew) is a variety of corn.  Dried and ground hominy is what’s used to produce grits which are ubiquitous in the American south.  Angela Salamanca, owner and Chef of Centro Mexican Restaurant and Gallo Pallon, North Carolina’s first Mezcaleria ( helped us out by making the Pozole and the Ajiaco.  Angela is native to Colombia and grew up with Ajiaco. The first time she offered it to me I was blown away.

The event was a huge success in that it achieved the goals we had set to accomplish.  It was a reason to gather and meet neighbors, raise money for a great neighborhood resource for local teens, and learn about culture through food. I have a feeling this was the first of many Belvedere Park Community Stew Crew events so keep posted for updates.  If you can think of ways we can creatively connect the dots of our diverse culture in our community please reach out to us.

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Second Saturday Events-

For the Second Saturday event in September Chef Ryan joined forces with Community Food Lab and prepared the dish hoppin’ john for neighbors who lived by The Galley convenience store in South East Raleigh.  Chef Ryan had help from a few students who attend The Chefs Academy for this event.   The hoppin’ john that was prepared was started with a Sofrito base and was prepared with a home made vegetable stock.  Feedback from neighbors was provided about the different styles of rice and beans they prepare at home, as well as what they know about the dish hoppin’ john.  We also discussed  issues that particular neighborhood may have, as well as some great things that’s happening in that neighborhood in relation to availability to fresh food.   The children who attended the event participated by helping Chef Ryan make a mustard vinaigrette that was paired with some amazing fresh greens which were provided by The Well Fed Garden in Raleigh.