I love using the geographic imagery of the North and South Poles to help my young cooks remember how to slice an onion.
It's just one of many bits of wisdom I've picked up from the volunteers teaching the same recipes in other schools, and truly an unexpected bonus.
As a self-taught home cook, with nary a cooking class to my name, I'm so grateful for the tips to share with my fifth graders at Bayard Taylor Elementary in North Philadelphia, where we are in our sixth week of cooking together. On the menu: pork with apples and onions.
Because this was an easy recipe without a lot of chopping, there was lots of time to discuss technique. As Lucas browned the pork and Annette browned the chicken, we talked about not crowding the pan so the meat browns and doesn’t stew, about the tasty golden flavor morsels the browning creates in the bottom of the pan, how we had to be careful not to burn them, and about deglazing the pan which means adding liquid,scraping up the browned bits and letting them dissolve in the liquid. It also makes cleanup a lot easier. Lucas really loved learning about residual heat and how you didn’t need to keep the heat on until the end; the heat left in the pan can sometimes finish the cooking.
St. Martin De Porres
“PORK”!! The girls screamed in delight, when they entered the kitchen, and quickly got to work. The scent of the carmelizing onions, apples and fresh sage (which everyone easily identified as an “herb”!) quickly filled the room and was whetting everyone’s appetite.
The girls could barely contain themselves waiting for the pork to come out of the oven, and it did not disappoint! Hope wrote “The pork was very, very, very good”, Savannah would “definitely make this at home”, Kevina said that it was “popping!”
Community Partnership School
Adrian got the call when she was pulling up to the school. Unfortunately, two of the girls could not eat pork because of their religious beliefs. Luckily she was there early. She found out were the closest market was and picked up chicken thighs with time to spare. What problem?
As the students read over the recipe, there was resistence. “Wait, the onions go in the applesauce?” one asked incredulously. “Ewwwwww.”
We made the recipe with the chicken thighs, in the Dutch oven, but also separately cooked the tenderloin since we had it. Needless to say our cooks went home with leftovers.
The kids LOVED it.
When we suggested that we start cleaning up, Jalia Hale protested. “But we’re still eating! It’s soooo good…we have to savor it.”
Wissahickon Charter School
The kids liked the pork and apples. While two of them were interested in seasoning the raw meat (that’s the way their moms did it), the others wanted nothing to do with touching the meat while raw. So three students cored and cut the apples and sliced the onions. We had no sage so substituted some ginger. In addition, we cooked the remaining quinoa from a prior week and lightly sauteed some broccoli with chopped garlic to round out the meal. We were surprised that everyone tasted and liked the broccoli. The pork was well received and all five asked for and received leftovers to take home. We think we need to work on table manners a bit!
Nobody was too enthusiastic about the idea of making fish tacos for our fifth cooking lesson at Bayard Taylor Elementary School in North Philadelphia.
Mark Ramirez, 10, and Kareema Brown, 11 , get chopping, preparing to make fish tacos at Bayard Taylor Elementary School in North Philadelphia. AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer The fifth graders in the after-school class were on board for the taco part. But the cod, which none of them had tasted before, not so much.
"I don't really like fish," said Bianca Perez, wrinkling her nose.
Community Partnership School
The fish tacos and salad were a big hit. We got the cod that was on sale at ShopRite. After we got everything ready, each kid assembled their own taco with a few chunks of fish, slaw, a drizzle of lime-mayo, and a sprinkle of cilantro. We used the whole-wheat tortillas again and no one even noticed. Although Annette Grant didn't think she liked fish tacos, she asked for more after finishing her first! Three kids wanted to take the leftover salad home. The tacos were all gone except for Anyia Daniel's, the only one who still didn't like the fish, but she did try it. Nicholas Bowersox, who said he didn't like fish, was caught eating it. We think we made a convert!
At 83 years of age, the preparation of daily meals has lost some of its luster, but reading your series about teaching kids healthy cooking has really ginned up my enthusiasm. I was looking rather dourly at a butternut squash Thursday, wondering if I could get away with letting it sit on my counter and rot, when I read this week's adventures with Moroccan stew. I got right down to it, shoulder to shoulder with your neophyte chefs. Instead of whacking away at the carrots, I was inspired by Mark Ramirez to slice careful coins. I was reminded again how much we enjoy quinoa. I threw spices around with abandon. It was lots of fun. The way you write is terrific. The stew was delicious. I feel like a kid again.
-- Jane Sebold