Mother Nature clearly didn’t get the memo that it’s technically spring. But the cold winds and snow on Saturday, Apr. 14, didn’t keep 25 cooks from getting a behind-the-scenes look at how our favorite dairy products get from the cow to the cooler at our favorite grocers.
CommonGround Kansas hosted “Cows, Cooks and Conversation” at Hildebrand Farms Dairy outside Junction City, KS, where the family raises cows and bottles their own milk to sell across the state. The event featured a tour of the dairy followed by an electric pressure cooking demonstration from Chef Alli.
The dairy’s founders’ granddaughter Melissa Hildebrand Reed is a farmer volunteer for CommonGround. She works on the farm full time handling marketing and distribution of the farm’s products across Kansas. Melissa led the tour, showing guests the bottling plant, calf barn, and milking parlor. CommonGround farmer volunteers LaVell Winsor and Krystale Neitzel also shared about their farms, both located in eastern Kansas.
“Growing up around the dairy, we forget that our way of life is different than most,” Reed said. “Sharing our farm gives us a chance to show what we do while also getting a better understanding of what the general population thinks of when they think of dairy. Our event Saturday was the perfect opportunity to show every step of how our milk is produced.”
Having Chef Alli provide a cooking demonstration really brought the food chain full circle, Reed added.
After the tour, guests enjoyed warming up in the farm store with hot chocolate and vanilla ice cream, both made with the dairy’s milk. Then Chef Alli started cooking two dishes — Korean Pork Bowl and Creamy Beef Penne Pasta — in electric pressure cookers, walking guests through the process and answering questions along the way. The event concluded with samples of the two dishes and a Q&A session with CommonGround farmer volunteers. Hope Wright was the lucky winner of the door prize, a 6-quart Cuisinart electric pressure cooker, similar to the one Chef Alli cooks with.
Thanks to everyone who attended and brought non-perishable items to donate for community members who don’t enjoy the same freedom of food choices that we do. Ticket proceeds supported the Flint Hills Breadbasket.