Healthy Kuchen & The Artful Plate?

Yes, you read the title correctly, could it be true? Healthy Kuchen? How could it be possible that the well-loved and guarded family, traditional food (that’s loaded with cream and other, yummy, but not so healthy ingredients) could be transformed to a healthier alternative.

A sceptical but willing group of ladies from the Heritage Centre in Jamestown were given the opportunity to give the healthy kuchen a try. As part of The Arts Center’s Art For Life program in conjunction with the North Dakota Council on the Arts, chef Matt Kloberdanz presented a workshop to both staff and residents.  Kloberdanz guided participants through the recipe and everyone made a mini-kuchen.  After assembling their own healthy kuchen the participants sampled the recipe and while it was different it still had that creamy, fruity, custard top that contrasted with its tasty bread-like crust. Less sugar and less flour, low fat milk and potatoes make this kuchen a better choice for those needing to follow a heart-healthy diet.

Once the mini kuchens were prepared and in the oven, the activity became even more fun with a lesson in options for creating an “artful” plate.  As Kloberdanz put it, “add plate decoration, add $3…” Using pureed fruits and nothing else (raspberries, prunes and peaches – hence, red, brown and yellow) he showed how you could draw designs with a squirt bottle or paint with a brush. Run a toothpick through the adjacent colored purees and you achieve a feather design.

As you see, art can penetrate all aspects of life. We forget this sometimes but if you think about everything we encounter daily–art usually touches it some way–from the clothes we wear to the newspaper we read–artists had a role in their creation. The Art for Life Program recognizes the value of creativity and art at all stages of life and aims to provide engaging arts activities to seniors not only at the Heritage Centre and Ave Maria Village in Jamestown but in seven other communities in North Dakota. The Arts Center has been collaborating with the Jamestown facilities since 2008 to bring storytellers, visual artists, yoga/movement instructors, musicians and traditional artists to work with their residents.

In an upcoming post I will provide the Healthy Kuchen recipe. And be looking for the opportunity to share your own Kuchen (healthy or not) in a contest to be held in association with the upcoming exhibit, Sundogs and Sunflowers: Folklore and Folk Art of the Northern Great Plains which will occur in November/December 2013.

Interestingly, the book for which this exhibit is based was published by the North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA), and was compiled and edited by North Dakota State University Professor Emeritus Dr. Timothy J. Kloberdanz and NDCA folklorist Troyd A. Geist.  Our chef Matthew Kloberdanz, son of Timothy, continues the family interest in the traditional arts as it relates to cooking and food, particularly those that come from the German-Russian tradition.