The new commercial kitchen at the Free Library of Philadelphia is, by far, the most beautiful, tricked-out kitchen in which I've ever cooked.
We made lovely meals in the simple convent kitchen at St. Martin de Porres in North Philadelphia when the after-school cooking program began in 2012, and then in the public school cafeteria kitchens the following fall and spring.
As the program grew over the last two years, with volunteers cooking in schools in Philadelphia and Camden, some classes made feasts with just an electric frying pan.
Makes 6 servings
6 English muffins, whole-grain if available
12-ounce can albacore tuna packed in water, drained
Seventy-five schoolchildren will be learning how to slice onions, cook pasta, roast vegetables, and make dinners like stuffed peppers and homemade tomato soup this fall as My Daughter's Kitchen cooking program continues to expand and evolve in its fourth season.
The mission remains the same as when the lessons began with my own daughter: teaching kids to cook simple, healthful, delicious meals on a budget.
Thirty-two volunteers - most of them Inquirer readers who wrote in after reading about the program - will begin teaching 15 afterschool classes around the city and across the river in Camden.
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.
It turns out, it wasn't the soup her mom was hesitant about. It was explaining how to make it - in English.
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.
"Me? he said with incredulous delight. "Mom-mom, Mom-mom, I get to help cook!" he cried, literally jumping up and down.
'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.
"It's fake food," said Nick Rodriguez.