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.
Makes 6 servings
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2½ pounds) tender removed, cut into thirds
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?"