Farmers’ Table Goes Gourmet Entrees: I dare you to skip this meal!

Back with more descriptions of the Farmers’ Table Goes Gourmet fundraiser coming to The Community School on September 30….
You’ve gotten through a few libations, three hors d’oeuvre courses, Parker House rolls, and three salad courses (including the Wonder Fries!). We’re into the entrees, by now, and each has a distinct palate hit.
Begin with tender, succulent chicken thighs, slow smoked until falling off the bone.  Imagine a white platter as canvas, morsels of meat, plump blackberries, darkest blue-gray juniper berries, and translucent shreds of lemon peel are the paint.  Pretty as a picture, good enough to eat.  The blackberries are popping with sweetness brought to distinction by the contrast of the pickling brine, redolent of shallot, allspice, and bay.  What will be the first to disappear from your plate, the chicken or the blackberry?
Next comes the clean brine of mussels mingled with their inherent sweet buttery-ness.  They get a bang of flavor from my drunken mussel recipe, which isn’t the typical “add wine/beer to the pot as you steam” sort of drunken.  Giving a nod to my favorite Thai dish, Pad Kee Mao, or Drunken Noodles, our shellfish will get a quick simmer and toss in Bird’s Eye pepper, Holy Basil, fish sauce, dark sweet soy, and ginger. Pull the pinky-beige nuggets out of their shells, pop in your mouth, repeat.
For those disinclined to rave about meat, you’ll appreciate the first steak on our menu:  pickled lime-marinated cauliflower steaks.  This dish requires several days of preparation, as every nook and cranny needs extended exposure to the vibrant Indian-inspired rub and marinade which bring this overlooked vegetable to tender new heights.  The fermented limes help to break the firm vegetable into almost succulent bites. Grilling over hot coals provides a char which caramelizes the outer edges, bringing sweet to the salty, sour marinade.  I could eat this dish for three meals each day….
If you’re more of a steak-steak sort of person, then you will find yourself over the moon as the last platter comes to your table, adorned with slices of melt-in-your mouth tender hangar steak, gently rubbed with sea salt and black pepper before getting a hot sear on the grill. Scattered over the slices you’ll find whole blistered shishito peppers, tossed in chunky sea salt.  Shishito are a Japanese cousin to Padron peppers, sweet and flavorful, and infinitely eat-able.
You know you’ve still got room for dessert, so check in tomorrow, as I save the best (???) for last.
If you’re sufficiently salivating, wipe your chin and give a call or send an email to reserve your seat or table for the best meal you’ll have all year.  This dinner is celebration-worth. Forget your anniversary last March?  Make up for it now.  Someone’s 37th birthday coming up?  This beats the heck out of pizza and beer.  Feel like simply supporting a terrific school that does a lot in and for our community?  Come on over.  Your $100 per person ticket makes all the difference to us, and just might make all the difference to you.
Love to get your reservation!
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Farmers’ Table Goes Gourmet: Lettuce Begin

If you’re in the know, Farmers’ Table Goes Gourmet is an experience you’ve
allowed yourself: a 13-course meal composed of the most luscious local
ingredients, displayed and served beautifully, for your delectation, and to
benefit The Community School.

Let’s explore the menu. Feel free to call and make your reservations at
any time!

The hors d’oeuvres cycle is made of three unique platters.

The first, lettuce jam and cheesy turmeric crackers, might at first glance
feel a bit…healthy. But imagine a wooden platter topped with rough edged,
golden crackers sprinkled with coarse sea salt. Imagine a beautiful
smallish bowls filled with a bright green puree that smells herby and
brinish. Imagine a small round of semi-soft goat cheese, tangy and bold.
Take a cracker, smear with jam, top with a sliver of cheese. When this
rises to your lips, your nose will piece together these separate parts and
your salivary glands will take note. You absolutely will not stop at one.
You might ask your server for another portion of crackers.

But then you’ll turn your attention to the caramelized onion dip and
housemade chips, which will have an entirely different aura. This is not
Lipton’s Onion Soup dip. We start with beef bones and roast them with a
little bit of sherry and some onion skins, until they’re very brown. The
pan juices are set aside, after the pan has been deglazed with more
sherry. The nibbles of beef are shredded off the bones and set into the
juices. To this we add a little of Red Gable Farm’s heavy cream and
yogurt, strained to thicken quite a bit. This is set aside while thin
slices of onion are browned in butter until dark and succulent. These are
pureed with a bit more heavy cream until silken. Salt, pepper, a pinch or
two of Steele Farm’s ground hot peppers. Yes, you can scoop this creamy,
fragrant wonder with a spoon, but the better foil would be the hot and
crisp chips made fresh from local russets. Sliced unbearably thin and
deep-fried, you’ve never had such a potato chip.

To cleanse your palate, we’ll offer a pickle plate. Moroccan carrot
pickles offer bright orange snaps of carrot, redolent of lemon and
coriander; good old New England dilly beans, all garlic and dilly goodness;
Russian tomatoes, salt-brined gems of cherry tomatoes which, when popped in
your mouth whole, zip and fizz delectably. Thinly sliced wafers of various
Vermont-made salumi will give you an intermittent chew between the crunch
of the pickles. Your digestive juices will be suitably stimulated for the
next round of dishes!

Check in tomorrow, for the soups and salads….

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Farmers’ Table Goes Gourmet: scholarship fundraiser



On Saturday, September 30, we’ll bring you a phantasmagoric dining experience, featuring the most luscious of local foods, prepared with love and creativity.  Join us for this feast, as we come together to celebrate all the good that The Community School  does in the world.  Your ticket supports the financial aid which makes slowing down and digging deep possible for the 80% of our students who need financial aid in order to learn with us.

Check out the menu on Facebook, pick up the phone, and make a reservation!  Save a seat or an entire table, for you and your friends.

Love to feed you!

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Welcome Back for our 28th Year!

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Low Country Boil, Wednesday, July 26

Wednesday is almost upon us, and I imagine somewhere, someone is harvesting shrimp and crawfish for our dinner. 
This lively feast will feature plenty of choice for even finicky eaters (who doesn’t like corn on the cob?).  The nature of a low country boil, as my friends from Georgia and Louisiana tell me, is to laugh a lot, mingle with friends, and use your hands to pick out each succulent bit that you’ll pop in your mouth.  It’s a frolic, a fete, a good time, I guaranteeeeeee you!
The trick with a boil is sequencing.  Into the pot go all ingredients, but the timing has to be just right to allow the potatoes to soften and soak up the good juices while keeping the shellfish sweet and tender.  Into the pot go the taters, corn, onion, garlic and a few liberal shakes of Zatarain’s authentic seasoning, redolent of clove, cayenne, bay, mustard, coriander, dill and allspice.  Then come the sausages (we’ll be using some of Stonehenge Farm’s sweet Italian lamb sausage and North Country smokehouse Linguica), pulling in the seasoning and letting loose some of their succulent juices.  Last go the crawfish and shrimp, shells on to keep tight the roiling juices, flavoring the sweet flesh.
For those who don’t know from crawfish, let me tell you, there’s a reason various cultures (we all know about the Cajun affinity, but the Swedes have an entire week in August based on traditions around eating kräftor, or crawfish) build parties around these little creatures.  The fun is in the sucking.  Yes. Sucking.  You pick one up, flip it over, and put your lips to the base of the shell and suck.  Then part the thorax from the tail and suck again.  You’ll get slurps of briny, spicy, sweet juice.  Peel the tail as you would a tiny lobster and pop the morsel in your mouth. Sweet.  Ditto the shrimp.
We will have plenty of flatware for those who prefer not to eat every bite with fingers!
To mellow out the moment, and to soak up the juices, we will have plenty of Sunnyfield bread with butter; kale salad with maple ginger vinaigrette (using the last of our TCS ginger); a mixed veggie slaw with a buttermilk dill dressing; and berry sorbet from Sandwich Creamery and vanilla gelato made with their own fresh milk by folks at Zero Mile Farm.
This meal is served by donation, so pay what you can or think the meal is worth.  Please RSVP so we prepare enough to fill all bellies without wasting a bite!
Hope to feed you.
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Summer Slumgullion, July 15

I know summer is the time to relax on your back porch with a beer and a burger, but sometimes it’s worth it to pack yourself into the car and be treated to something often different and often better (really, sorry, yes) than what we all typically scrounge up in our home kitchens. July 15, from 6pm until about 9 is just such a time.

Rinse off the sand and sunscreen, dab a little lotion on your black fly bites, put on a snazzy shirt that doesn’t feel like the gardening clothes you wore all day, and head to The Community School in South Tamworth for dinner. We’ll be cooking up one of our Slumgullion meals highlighting the best of what our local farmers have springing from the earth.

Here’s how it works: call and make a reservation, saving yourself a seat at a table with other diners or reserving a table for your party. Plan on paying $50 per person, with a nice tip for your student server added on at the end of the meal. Then sit back and savor.

Once you’ve helped yourself to some tangy jalapeño punch, a glass of wine, or a cold brew, a rhubarb seltzer or some icy cold cucumber water, find your table. Your server will help you Get On Board with our literal board of delectables. Split biscuits of wheat flour from Maine farmers and corn flour from the Booty Family Farm become the perch for a deconstructed deviled egg, with or without roe. Karl Behr’s chicken wings are grilled with a burnt scallion bbq sauce, crisping the outside and holding in the succulence. Use your fingers! Counter pickles–spring baby vegs fermented quickly to a bright finish–add crisp satisfaction for this first course.

Next comes a creamy light green garlic bisque swirled with herbed buttermilk, adding tang and lushness at once. Fried green tomato croutons highlight the garlic note and add a toothsome crunch. You may be tempted to lick the bowl.

Baby beet and strawberry salad uses our own ruby reds, sliced into near translucent perfection, allowing you to see each natural swirl. A base of French sorrel adds a big pow of citrus and butter lettuce smoothes it all back. A drizzle of rhubarb vinaigrette (secret ingredient: Young Maple Ridge Sugarhouse maple sugar) pulls together the whole plate, which is as beautiful to behold as it is to eat.

The earthiness of the beets leads you by the tongue to our first entree: beef encrusted in lichen, with baby spinach, Bear’s Head mushroom and a native-spiced Bordelaise. Lichen harvested from the woods behind my house, up Little Larcom meets my mortar and pestle and a few slivers of dried shallot from last year’s harvest. Together these give a woodsy depth and hint of sweetness to Zero Mile Farm’s sirloin. You will never, ever again turn up your nose at this cut of beef which, after a 24-hour, pre-rub marinade, hits the coals for a quick sear, rest, and slice. Yikes. So good.

But you’re not done yet. Go from the subtle hits of rich beef to the big pow of pork gyros with lemon crisped pita and tzatziki. Fresh pork shoulder gets all kinds of friendly with fresh cilantro, walking onion, garlic scapes, beautiful cilantro seeds (aka coriander), and roasted black pepper before hitting the long and slow of our smoker. Sliced thinly and draped over fresh pitas with spikes of lemon zest, creamy cukey tzatziki mellows the lot together. Definitely eat with your hands.

To this point, you’ve worked hard. Settle back for the gorgeous cool whisper of rose petal granita shaved onto a pool of vanilla cream. It’s like ice cream for really, really wise grown ups. For those who require a tiny crunch with dessert, nibble a lightly browned shortbread toast dunked into more pink goodness: rhubarb curd, lemon curd’s beautiful NH cousin.

Farmers in this neck of the woods have already been working hard for months to bring food to this tender place. Thanks in advance to those at Zero Mile, Red Gable, Windover, Booty Family, Tanna, Mad Hen, Rise Up Singing, and The Community School Farms. Thanks, too, to NH Mushroom Co., Young Maple Ridge Sugarhouse, Dube and Robinson Cider and Beverly Woods.

Can you really resist?

Your support teaches kids how to transform food into something that sustains body and soul, gives us opportunities to make something beautiful and share it, and keeps our wonderful school flush. Changing the world, one bite at a time!

Call or email to RSVP. Love to feed you.

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Congrats, Graduates!

Emma, Ally, and Grant have become our most recent grads heading out into the world, following a joyfully sunny ceremony here on Saturday.  We are so pleased by the steps they’ve taken this year to really assume the reins of their learning, both intellectual and social.  It’s the mark of wholeness when you know not only what you do well but the areas you still need some stretch to reach. This lively bunch has dreams they can achieve, the skills to foster community wherever they go, and a support network of loving family and friends to shepherd the next steps they’ll take.  Hurrah for each of you!

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Slumgullion, A Local-Foods Pop-Up Restaurant Fundraiser, Returns!

Join us on Saturday, November 12 at 6pm for a truly memorable meal, all in support of The Community School’s commitment to offering educational opportunities to students from diverse backgrounds.  Check out the menu and then reserve a space or a table, all in the name of delicious education!slumgullion-1112-poster

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New Course Descriptions!

Courses at The Community School
In order for such a small program to do justice to the wealth of information, perspectives, and resources available to teachers and learners, our studies follow a thematic rotation:
The Ancient World;
The Americas: post-contact to the Industrial Revolution/Westward Expansion;
The Modern World of the 20th and 21st Centuries
Periods are studied in two-year cycles. Applicable coursework is included in these thematic studies. Also integral to understanding the world is travel; during the first of the two years in a cycle, high school students plan and embark on an expedition culminating their year’s study. Often, this travel will include service work and exchange with a school or community, which is followed up in year two of the cycle. We have long-time relationships with schools in Costa Rica and the Czech Republic, and have also studied and worked in France, Germany, and Canada. Courses include day trips, overnights, or week-long trips to the mountains, the coast, or regions in North America. Service work or social actions help our students to be purposeful travelers and not mere tourists.

The Community School’s full-time program courses fall into three categories: core classes, afternoon blocks, and stewardship. One credit equals 120 contact hours with teacher and subject.

Cores meet four to five mornings per week, all year. They include English, science, math, and foreign language. Students earn 1.2-1.5 credits per course per year. This consistent immersion builds both skills and dispositions essential for a strong academic foundation. Students are grouped largely based on their experience with or exposure to material.
Math classes progress logically from pre-algebra up through calculus, with our annual offerings meeting the needs of each student group. Foreign language follows a similar path.
Middle School sciences are integrated around farm and forest, using the natural world to develop an understanding of the building blocks of science, and hone observation, hypothesis and experimentation skills.
High School science includes immersion in chemistry, biology, and physics, often tying in environmental sciences and ecology.
Currently, we offer World Languages, Culture and Geography to middle school students, introducing them to languages through the study of regions and people around the globe.
High school students learn Spanish, becoming fluent enough to travel in their later years with us.
English classes focus on various forms of writing, building strength in and passion for reading and understanding the written word, and speaking.
Senior English is an intensive focused for the first half of the year on the college admissions process and then seguing into Senior Project, a six-month independent study which includes an internship, working with mentors, and significant writing. The culmination is the sharing of this work through formal presentation and project defense. This project is required for graduation.

Blocks run for one quarter, and meet four afternoons per week for 90 minutes per session. These intensive studies allow time to delve deeply into fairly specific areas of history, social justice, or the sciences. Students choose one course per block session, earning approximately .60 credits per block.
Blocks for 2016-17 include for middle school: Mediation and Conflict Resolution; Explorers of the Modern Age; Transportation: The Auto to the Space Shuttle; Modern Conflict and War; Civil Rights; Social Action: What Do You Care About; Understanding State and Federal Government Roles; and Why Do Wild Places Matter?
High School students (grades 9-12) will choose from: ISMS: Totalitarianism, Communism, Fascism, and Capitalism; Food Systems and Climate Change; Dissent and Protest; Economics and Markets; Ethics In A Modern Society; Communicable Disease; Environmental Conservation; Branches of Government: Checks and Balances or Road Blocks? Each block class includes travel; extensive project work; reading, writing, and speaking; and social action.

Stewardship meets on Friday afternoons in 2.5 hour sessions, for 4-8 weeks at a time. During these classes, students immerse themselves in elective areas: the arts, wood working, farming, cooking, health and sexuality, invention, physical fitness, skiing or snowboarding, running, musical theater, and more. Expert craftspeople from our region often teach these classes.

Assessment and Evaluation
We believe that assessment and evaluation are tools to help learners to grow and record that growth. To that end, we use a narrative evaluation system which highlights in detail each student’s strengths and weaknesses in intellectual concepts, critical skills, dispositions, and commitment to learning. Based on these narratives, a PASS WITH PERSONAL HONORS, PASS WITH DISTINCTION, PASS, PASS WITH CONCERN or NO CREDIT is recorded on an individual transcript. The criteria for each course are highlighted in the narrative evaluation, as well as notation regarding individual work resulting in the transcript record.

Our system has no correlation to a traditional alpha-numeric grading system, therefore our students do not accumulate a grade point average, nor are they ranked. We are happy to offer individual narrative recommendations for scholarship consideration, college course prerequisites, or in other areas which typically rely on standardized norms.

College and Life Beyond The Community School
All seniors apply to several colleges. Since 2007, we have had a 100% college acceptance rate, with most students being accepted to their first and second choice schools, as well as several safety options. We work closely with our students to know themselves and their aspirations, and support a process which selects post-secondary studies which will nurture and challenge both. Graduates of The Community School have attended Antioch College, Bennington College, Berklee School of Music, Bowdoin College, Clarkson University, College of the Atlantic, COlby-Sawyer College, Concord Technical Institute, Emerson College, Ithaca College, Kenyon College, Lesley University, Marlboro College, Paul Smith’s College, University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, University of Pennsylvania, University of Vermont, among others.

Our students bring with them solid problem solving abilities, exceptional skills in communicating with their professors, strong writing skills, and a well-rounded intellect which is nimble in making connections between self, place, history, and current events.

Special Education and Services
The Community School is not a therapeutic setting and does not offer Special Education or counseling services. We do currently work with the local school system to provide remediation in reading through the Wilson Reading Program, for the select students who come to us with IEPs and particularly low reading skills. Our success in working with a variety of learning styles and abilities comes from our personal relationships with our students and families, our regular dialogue as a staff, and our commitment to helping students grow. No formal support of IEPs is available.

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