The instructors at Urban Promise were skeptical that the week’s recipe with its emphasis on mushrooms could sway our 5th grade gourmands. But the class was just as concerned with walnuts being in the sauce. “Why are there nuts in it?” asked Cianni Green, and we talked about different foods that can add valuable protein to our diets. But our conversation on the benefits of meatless meals was put on hold—our first knife injury in 6 weeks came as Brazil Taylor was chopping onions. Good thing instructor Becky Bryan is Nurse Becky at UrbanPromise, and Brazil was in good hands while the rest of the cooks did their best to carry on: chopping celery, grating carrots and getting salted water boiling on the stove. “Watch this,” said A’layvia Green, using the side of her knife to press the cloves of garlic and remove the skin before mincing, like a pro. Instructor Jane Berkowitz explained “al dente” to the girls, and Nailah Lipscomb confirmed that the pasta was indeed al dente. “Not too hard and not too mushy!”
Our girls had an addition to the menu. Earlier in the semester, we had picked two spaghetti squashes from the UrbanPromise garden and saved them for this week’s lesson. The girls scooped out the seeds and rubbed them with olive oil for roasting. “It just looks like yellow squash to me,” said Malaysia Williams, and 30 minutes later, she and her kitchenmates were surprised to see the strands that we scooped out of the halved squash. Seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed with olive oil and some grated cheese, everyone tasted the spaghetti squash, but no one was overly enthusiastic. “It is just okay,” said Cianni.
Brazil was back among us to toss the salad and set the table, tapping her fork before everyone dug into the steaming pasta. “I just want to thank everyone for supporting me during my injury and all,” she said raising her water glass. Nailah joined her. “To the good life!” All girls ate the Bolognese without complaint, and there were no leftovers. “I give this a 10!” said Malaysia, digging in. “This is good,” said Brazil. “but I think it would be better with meat.” Jane Berkowitz, Becky Bryan, Maureen Dodson