Saturday, August 23, 2014
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POSTED: Friday, June 13, 2014, 3:24 PM
Kimberly Luu (right) and her sister Kathy Luu, 9, (second from right) reach for sauce in front of their mother My Luong and classmate Nicholas Rodriguez (left)as they sit down for meal of Pho at Lawton school June 4, 2014. ( TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer )

For 10 weeks, since our after-school cooking classes began at Lawton Elementary, Kimberly Luu had been talking about having her mom come in to make her favorite soup, the Vietnamese rice noodle soup called pho.

But it was never entirely clear her mom was on board. "I think she wants to, I'm not sure," Kim would say.

Maureen Fitzgerald @ 3:24 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Friday, June 13, 2014, 3:20 PM
My Luong used meatballs in her pho for the students after finding out that many Americans order it that way at her favorite Vietnamese restaurant. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)

 Makes 8 servings

 For the broth:

 2 onions, halved

Maureen Fitzgerald @ 3:20 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Friday, June 13, 2014, 3:15 PM
My Daughter's Kitchen participants with their achievement medals: (from left) Christian McKinney, Kimberly Luu, Aneza Abalo, Nysirah Hall, and Nick Rodriguez. They cooked the family feast at Henry Lawton School. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer)

Even though the party didn't start till 5 p.m., Christian McKinney's grandmother and younger brother were waiting in the lobby of Lawton Elementary School at 3.

"Do you want to help in the kitchen?" I asked Brandon, 9.

Maureen Fitzgerald @ 3:15 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Thursday, May 29, 2014, 6:58 PM
Nick Rodriguez puts the chicken parcels in the oven at the Henry Lawton School. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

'Do you know what processed food is?" I asked the fifth graders at Henry Lawton Elementary, where I've been teaching cooking classes.

I had just seen Fed Up, the heartbreaking documentary on America's addiction to processed food, and I felt compelled to talk about it.

Maureen Fitzgerald @ 6:58 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Thursday, May 29, 2014, 6:53 PM

Poached Chicken

Makes 6 servings

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2½ pounds) tender removed, cut into thirds

Maureen Fitzgerald @ 6:53 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Thursday, May 29, 2014, 6:49 PM
Students (from left) Nysira Hall, Kimberley Luu, and Nicholas Rodriguez get their coconut fish curry from teacher Maureen Fitzgerald. (AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer)

The first one to burst through the door for after-school cooking class at Lawton Elementary - as usual - is Christian McKinney, this week sporting a fresh mohawkish buzz-cut.

He wastes no time: he glances at the recipe, sizes up the ingredients on the stainless steel prep table, and starts right in, peeling, then chopping the garlic. If I didn't insist that he save some jobs for the others, he might get through most of the work before they even arrive.

"Nick is so excited for the fish curry today," he said. "What kind of fish are we cooking?"

Maureen Fitzgerald @ 6:49 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Thursday, May 29, 2014, 6:45 PM
The fish curry on the stove. It introduced some of the kids to salmon and coconut.

 Makes 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

Maureen Fitzgerald @ 6:45 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Thursday, May 15, 2014, 6:51 PM
Students at Henry Lawton School sample the ratatouille they prepared in cooking class. Clockwise from upper left) Nick Rodriguez, Christian McKinney, Kimberly Luu, Nysirah Hall, and Aneza Abalo. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)

Ratatouille was on the menu for our after-school cooking class, and the fifth-grade cooks were eager to try the dish they knew about because of the eponymous Disney film - especially since the movie version of this vegetable stew was so good it melted the heart of the evil food critic, reminding him of his mother's home cooking.

Indeed, ratatouille is a staple of French home cooking; it is served in school cafeterias and is a dish French children love.

But they may not have loved it the first time they tried it, I told the Lawton elementary students. As I learned in the book French Kids Eat Everything, French parents know that taste buds take time to develop. If children don't like a dish, parents encourage them to keep tasting until they learn to appreciate it.

Maureen Fitzgerald @ 6:51 PM  Permalink | 0
About this blog

Maureen Fitzgerald, Inquirer food editor, has been cooking for 30 years. Her blog started with her daughter, but has been continuing for the past year with school children, this spring with fifth graders at Henry Lawton Elementary in Philadelphia. The program has expanded to 10 schools, with 20 volunteers working with a total of 50 urban children. The program is partnering with the Vetri Foundation for Children and Brown’s Shop Rite is providing the food.

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