I wrote about another class at Sacred Heart School in Camden this week, but the girls at Roberto Clemente did a fabulous job with the shrimp linguine. And they loved it.
My Daughter's Kitchen The My Daughter's Kitchen cooking program, founded by Philadelphia Inquirer Food Editor Maureen Fitzgerald, spends eight weeks at Roberto Clemente Middle School -- one of 20 schools participating this year -- to teach kids simple, easy, nutritious and delicious meals to make at home. ( CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer ) Philly.com
The most rewarding part of teaching kids to cook is watching them progress. They not only build very practical skills in the kitchen - learning how to hold a knife, chop onions, peel carrots, sauté and roast - they also learn to keep an open mind. They learn to be willing to try something new. And they are often surprised at how much they enjoy things they never thought they would.
Two weeks ago, when we were making honey mustard chicken wings with eighth graders at Roberto Clemente Middle School, Emily Gonzalez lamented: "I don't like mustard, can I have mine plain?" And Jodallis Pabon announced: "I don't eat cooked vegetables."
The Philadelphia Montessori Charter School is housed in a former city rec center on the corner of Island and Saybrook Avenues in Southwest Philadelphia. The grand, weathered old brick building has been retrofitted into a thriving elementary school for about 170 children, mostly from the neighborhood.
The kindergarten classroom there, equipped with nothing but a sink and a convection microwave oven, serves as a teaching kitchen for after-school cooking classes twice a week. The sixth graders squeeze into chairs meant for children half their age, prepping and measuring ingredients at the tiny classroom table to prepare easy, healthy dinners from the My Daughter's Kitchen cooking program.
Who knew two family favorite foods could taste so good and be so healthy? We took a fried chicken wing recipe and flipped it upside down. Three simple ingredients. Honey, mustard, and lemon juice. End results - delicious! Brianna said it best: "Baked is better than fried." For the veggies, again we avoided frying, cut the potatoes and carrots just like a French fry, used paprika and a pinch of salt and pepper, and tossed with olive oil, a healthy monounsaturated fat. Fast-food fries have their competition! Everyone loved them.- Amy Steinberg, Katie Rhodes
"It's like a chicken massage," said Soonae Shuler as she worked the honey mustard marinade into the wings in the large zipper-locking bag. Gianna Rosado noted that the chicken felt slimy. Enthusiasm for these recipes was overflowing as the girls just love chicken wings and fries, and they totally embraced the concept of this healthy preparation of one of their favorite meals. Bethany Swan remarked, "I hope these fries taste better than what I get from McDonalds." Every wing and veggie strip was consumed with sounds of pure delight.
Cristo Rey High School
"The beans and Parmesan cheese add real taste to the soup," Essence Battle said after tasting. Jade Burke said that, without this program, she wouldn't have learned to cut up vegetables. "The soup is different than I thought," said Neriah Garrett. "I would have never tried it if we didn't make it."
- Michele Taplinger