Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Story Worth Telling

This week's culinary travels took us to Asia. Five students prepped a dish by sauteeing bok choy and kale, then cooking Japanese rice and barley on Tuesday afternoon.
 When they returned to the classroom, one student cook approached me to tell me the amount of salt the recipe called for the grains to be cooked in seemed high. I emailed Emilyinthekitchen and let her know, wondering if she'd need to cook up some unsalted grains to mix in before the dish was served at lunch on Wednesday. 

She stopped into class Wednesday morning, and explained to everyone that when she'd written out the recipe (which came from her brain and not a cookbook), she'd mistakenly written down the amount of salt. She'd  been thinking of how much she'd use if she was cooking more grain in a larger volume of water. Cooks make mistakes sometimes.

"So you'll have to throw it out?" someone asked with concern.
Not to worry, she reassured. Most of the time, cooks can fix their mistakes. As I predicted, the solution lay in adding more grains to the dish.

 While we were in the tech lab, researching continents, Emilyinthekitchen mixed the grains and sauteed vegetables together and got it heated up for lunchtime serving. The dish was a little on the salty side, but definitely tasty.

The feedback forms that came in were very positive. Some people (especially the younger kids) liked the saltiness of the dish, while others like the dish but suggested less salt next time. A few people really liked the kale prepared this way. In a school where an announcement of kale chips has been met with cheers, that's saying something!

Wednesday night, I got some wonderful feedback from a colleague. In an email, she wrote that two students, "were so excited to tell me about the barley dish today (which I LOVED by the way!) and so many kids said they really liked it. It's amazing what kids will eat when they are involved with learning about it and preparing it,"

She also said, "I had a conversation with [a student] who told me she didn't really like it because it was too salty. I told her how much I love salt and she kindly gave me a warning that salt can clog your arteries. I'm not sure that's really true, but the fact that she knew it wasn't healthy and wanted to pass along that health information was priceless."

I thought about all this as I started looking over the amazing pictures Anne took this week.

These kids are having fun while they're learning. And if you didn't know them, you would have no idea which ones have learning challenges,  and which ones are reading well above grade level. Some of my students have ADHD or their families are living in stressful conditions. But the pictures (in today's post and in the past), don't tell those stories. Cooking together has built our class community and leveled the playing field. It has allowed all of my students a chance to learn and have fun together. And that's a story worth telling.

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