Ready Set Cook!
What exactly does cooking a meal look like with 30 kids ages Kindergarten through 8th grade? Crazy? Let’s keep it real. For some people it is hard to cook. Add a child to the mix, and the job just got harder. Add 30- mind-blown.
At Deep Creek, the kids have been so excited for the opening of the kitchen. Daily a student excitedly asks, “Is the kitchen ready?” and daily the guides say, “Almost.” Opening day in the kitchen was a much anticipated one and it was going to be big and include every student.
Before the students began cooking, they had a large group discussion about food. Some of the questions that the students discussed included: Where does food come from? How does food get to us? What do we like to eat? What should we eat? How do WE get involved?
Because we are Deep Creek Learning Center, we don’t just give directions. We like to include some friendly competitions along the way. For cooking, we didn’t simply find a recipe in a cookbook. We put the kids to work and made them feel like they were part of a Food Network show. Sure, there are times for giving step by step instructions. After all, there are great lessons to be learned by following an exact process, especially with cooking. Have you ever left out an important ingredient and had to throw out the entire meal? We really wanted the students to consider what happens if you leave out an ingredient.
Today’s lesson got us in the kitchen but was more about how we work together to achieve a goal. And in this case, the goal was the final dish! When the final stages of cooking were complete, our guides acted as judges to determine our favorite creation.
To begin this exciting part of the day, our kids were put in small groups of about three children. They were shown all the ingredients they had to work with.
What dish would you create if you were given the list of ingredients below that was given to our students?
Pasta: Spaghetti or penne noodles
Vegetables: Broccoli, tomatoes (I know, I know, they are a fruit) carrots, zucchini, onions, garlic, snap peas, spinach, fresh garlic, mushrooms
Sauces: Tomato basil, traditional marinara, olive oil and spices (dried basil, oregano, garlic powder)
After they checked out their ingredient choices, they were dismissed to their tables and got to work creating their own recipe. They were instructed to include a total of at least three veggies. Two of the veggies had to be ones they like. The 3rd ingredient had to be a veggie they’ve never tried or one they did try but didn’t like in the past. Apparently, your taste buds change every day!
As the guides listened to the groups, they were amazed at how easily the conversations took off. They overheard the students asking one another questions like, “What veggies do you like?” They also overheard some students say, “I don’t like any.”
Of course, this could have posed quite a problem for the groups that had some vegetable naysayers. As guides, they could have stressed and tried to figure out how exactly to solve the dilemma, but each group needed to decide how to overcome that obstacle.
While in groups, the students took turns discussing options of ingredients and what foods they thought would go well together. The groups assigned a leader, a writer, and a person to be the first to use a knife. Yes, a knife. Our kids were instructed the safe way to use a knife to chop vegetables for their very own culinary creations.
When all the prepping and eventual cooking was complete, our kids had the opportunity to eat and enjoy the results of their teamwork. The students were having great conversations before and during cooking, but the conversations while they were eating took the entire day to another level. They marveled over how great their dish tasted. They even foreshadowed that when they make it again they may add a little more of this or that. A few students said, “Hey, I never knew I liked broccoli or zucchini!” Some of our parents were equally surprised by the adventurous culinary spirit that inspired their child to eat a dreaded vegetable.
So, after all of this:
What Did We Learn?
How Did We Grow Today?
WE worked together with peers to create a recipe. We let leaders lead and assigned tasks for writing, food prep, and cooking. We made suggestions and compromises. We gave opinions and memories of other favorite meals. Our DCLC students chose SAFETY when working with knives. We listened intently and took direction on how to hold a piece of food to be cut. We used caution when working around all of the hot items found in the kitchen and patiently took turns sauteeing veggies over a hot pan. Most importantly, we were open minded when it came to healthy eating choices. Not a single child said, “No thanks.” Not a single child was disappointed with their created dish or complained about not liking green thingies in their food.
As a prize, the winning recipe will be featured in our DCLC Family Cookbook that we will complete in the spring. All recipes will be DCLC student inspired and we proudly share the very first one with you all! As you can see the amounts of each ingredient are not included. Feel free to load up on your favorite veggies! We are encouraging your kids to do the same.
Sprinkle of dried oregano and basil, salt, pepper
Tomato basil sauce
Combine all ingredients and toss together in a hot pan until it reaches the desired temperature.
WE worked together with peers to create a recipe. We let leaders lead and assigned tasks for writing, food prep, and cooking. We made suggestions and compromises. We gave opinions and memories of other favorite meals. Our DCLC students chose SAFETY when working with knives. We listened intently and took direction on how to hold a piece of food to be cut. We used caution when working around all of the hot items found in the kitchen and patiently took turns sautéing veggies over a hot pan. Most importantly, we were open minded when it came to healthy eating choices. Not a single child said, “No thanks.” Not a single child was disappointed with their created dish or complained about not liking green thingies in their food.