Carrie Fehr

Kitchen Garden Food and Fitness

Category: From the Classroom

The Science Of Cooking: Citrus Rocks!

 

IMG_0826“If we look deeply into a flower, what do we see? Sunshine, a cloud, earth, minerals, the gardener, the complete cosmos.”-Thich Nhat Hanh

Citrus Rocks the Science of Cooking Class where fourth grade Chef Scientists explore the link between minerals that originate in the soil, to the unique role it plays on the human diet, along with a little citrus history, some fun anecdotes, and a healthy recipe.

Citrus Love: With its sheer variety and profusion of colors, citrus fruit esteemed in many cultures as a symbol of happiness — is not hard to love. Even though many citrus fruits are common, there are a few lesser known examples in our harvest basket that stand out. From the wild-looking, yet extremely fragrant Buddha’s hand, to the tiny oval kumquat with its sweet rind and intense tart pulp — make our lips pucker, to the bowling-ball sized pomelo that hangs on trees spanning across the landscape to an impressive 50 feet high.  The citrus harvest basket is brimming with diverse learning opportunities that weave together lessons about folklore, health, environment, and more.  It imparts a sense of wonder and appreciation that inspires students to retell the citrus anecdotes from memory throughout the year.  Retelling a story is a valuable sequencing skill that supports reading comprehension and writing skills in the classroom, and is notable, since cooking classes only meet one hour a month, and in some cases, less than that.

Good to the Bone:  As we turn our spotlight over to the science lab, fourth graders  discover that minerals come from the earth, and humans absorb these minerals through the plants they eat.  As scientists, they explore the nutrients in citrus fruit, and learn that aside from the immune boosting benefits of Vitamin C, it is chock-full of minerals that help our bones, teeth, and muscles, to name a few.  And last but not least, folate, a nutrient that improves mood by raising the serotonin levels in our body, can help explain why we feel so good after eating citrus fruit.

Getting Pithy:  One of the many virtues of citrus is the entire fruit is usable– the pulp, the juice, and aromatic peel, complete as nature intended, and as it turns out, is the perfect ingredient for the recipe– Fruit Roll Ups.  Click here for the link to the recipe.  Student chefs put their cooking skills into action using four colorful varieties of citrus fruit– the Cara Cara, Moro Blood, and Navel Oranges, along with the Satsuma Mandarin. As they section, slice, zest, peel, and juice, their way through the recipe, our excited chefs discover after eating the soft pulp leftover from juicing, that the hollowed out navel orange morphs into a drinking cup!  Finally, we mix and match citrus vocabulary words, like pithy, zesty, and juicy in a citrus acrostic poem, where students create phrases using the concepts they learned from the Science of Cooking Class.  Mindful eating, along with citrus poetry is a great ending to our class.

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Confetti Spaghetti

Bold colorful peppers and vine-ripened tomatoes always welcome me back to the kitchen classroom in the late summer, where I teach elementary school children how to cook real food inspired by the garden.

We kick off the season with the recipe, Confetti Spaghetti, highlighting the harvest’s bounty of bright jewel tones that look like the fireworks sky on the Fourth of July– a party on a plate that tastes like a celebration in your mouth.

And, oh so healthy too, these vibrant colored fruits and vegetables have a generous infusion of beneficial vitamins and minerals that nourish both the mind and body.

It’s no wonder that students eagerly swarm like bees to honey, to the cooking lesson. Excited fingers slice, dice, and roll fresh leaves of basil into cylinders that are thinly cut into a chiffonade.  This early hands-on nutrition lesson is not only fun and engaging for children, but will have a positive impact on the choices they make about food for many years into the future.

Confetti Spaghetti is one of the most versatile recipes you can have in your repertoire.  Feel free to choose your favorite seasonal vegetables, red, orange, even purple, and experiment with different flavors and textures or whatever is available to you.  Click here for the Confetti Spaghetti recipe.

The Soul Of Ancient Grains

Whole Grain 4

Inspired by a 3rd grade student who raises an important philosophical question when she asks, “Do whole grains have souls?”

Throughout history ancient cultures have regarded grains as a sacred food, like medicine for the soul, it symbolized the essence of their spirituality that meant more than just sustenance. Grains played a significant role in shaping and influencing daily culinary, ritual, and spiritual practices.

Ancient grains tell stories about past civilizations that offer insights into their traditions and cultural values that were important to their life. Quinoa, the legendary grain of the Incas, was known to sustain the body with endurance and to increase deeper spiritual powers through meditation, and with respect, honored as the “mother grain.” Aztecs highly valued amaranth as “the food of the gods,” and for its supernatural health properties that was central to their spiritual rituals.  In the Hindu culture, grains played a role in important rite of passage ceremonies beginning with the ritual of baby’s first solid food, or spiritual food called the “feeding of the grains;” as well as, in weddings and in after life– funerals.

With appreciation for the deeper meaning of ancient grains that was once held sacred, and kept close at heart, I am mindful of my student, and her profound sense of curiosity to express a question the great philosopher, Socrates might ask– Do whole grains have a soul?

Beet Ketchup

Beets and ketchup may seem like an unlikely pair, but this intriguing sweet and tangy flavor combination, will truly make your taste buds come alive. If you’re a newcomer to beetroot, it’s a wonderful way to introduce this vegetable, that is by no means fancy, and is often misunderstood.

Bright and zesty with a hint of spice, this home-made ketchup is great slathered on any sandwich, over a side of sweet potato fries, and is a fantastic barbecue sauce for grilling.  Serve, as a dip for spring rolls, or over eggs—the possibilities are endless.

How do you prepare beets?  Do you have a creative way that encourages children to taste them?  I would love to hear your story.

To find out how students in the cooking classroom explore beets, click here.

Beet Ketchup

Beet Ketchup with Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized beets, diced

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup honey

1 ¾ cups balsamic vinegar

2 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

¼ tsp powdered mustard

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until liquid reduces by half, about 1 hour.

Remove spices and place ketchup into a blender and purée until smooth.  The consistency will be thick, smooth, and shiny.

Mac N’ Greens

Mac N' Greens

There’s nothing like steaming hot macaroni, spiked with sautéed greens piled high like Mount Everest, to ward off the winter chill.  This twist to the classic Mac N’ Cheese, is a healthier kid-friendly version that is soul-satisfying comfort food at its best.  If you like, add some sharp cheddar cheese to the macaroni, or throw in a handful of sultanas to counterbalance the bitter greens, and for a little crunch, top it with toasted breadcrumbs.  Sublime.

Mac N’ Greens

Ingredients:

4 bunches of assorted greens, such as dinosaur kale, rainbow chard, broccoli rabe, or collard, stems removed, leaves thinly sliced into strips

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

¾ pound macaroni, cooked and drained

Salt

Parmesan, 2 ounces or 1 cup finely grated

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan, add greens, garlic, and a pinch of salt.  Sauté over medium-high heat, about 5-7 minutes until soft.

Add the macaroni to the greens and combine.  Add a generous pinch of salt and Parmesan to the macaroni and greens.  Taste and adjust  seasoning.

Related articles:

The New American Classroom:  Farm to School Cooking

Winter Greens

The Taste Of North Berkeley

taste-of-berkeleyJoin us for The Taste Of North Berkeley to support our local Cooking and Gardening program.  Get tickets.

 

Keep Gardening and Cooking Alive!

Keep Gardening & Cooking Alive in Berkeley Public Schools!

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To learn more about Dine Out for an edible education, please visit:

 http://berkeleydineout.com/

The New American Classroom: Farm-To-School Cooking

IMG_0937As we have become distant with our relationship to food, cooking at school offers children the opportunity to experience food in a completely new way, weighing each word, measuring each ingredient— it captivates all of their senses and highlights the love of food that nourishes the body, soothes the heart, and stimulates the mind while connecting them to the source.  Cooking in the classroom provide schools with a new opportunity, a new responsibility to play a leading role, of participating in shaping a healthy future that our children will inherit.

The following excerpt is about a day in the life of cooking in the classroom at The Berkeley Unified School District, where the lesson spotlights the Harvest of Greens.                                                                                                                        

Love is Greens: Since Valentine’s Day is celebrated during the same month as the Harvest of Greens cooking class, we share our feelings of love and how it relates to our nature’s bounty, which is a natural and perfect springboard into our lesson, Love is Greens!

Setting the Stage:  The culinary stage is set with table arrangements of tools, measurements, colorful mats, and mason jar centerpieces filled with harvest greens, which look like a still life against the backdrop of blue-and-white checkered bistro tablecloths illuminated from the sunlight that pours into the room like honey, transforming a bland space into a vibrant cooking lab.  The drama of the table setting announces the cooking adventure, and students dance with excitement into the classroom.

The Symphony:  The elements of cooking, math, and science come together like a beautiful symphony, with each section keeping tempo and harmonizing with the next. Beginning with the rhythmic staccato of chopping garlic against the cutting board, followed by the smooth rolling movement of knives slicing long cylinders of leafy greens that squeak, when very fresh. Students dangle thin ribbons of chard between excited fingers, placing them along the edge of their rulers, admiring each strand as though it was a special star before recording the longest and shortest measurement on a notepad. The grand finale erupts when a round of applause from the skillet of sizzling greens piled high like Mt. Everest, reaches its crescendo that make students, jump! “Steam.“ “Evaporation.” “It’s Shrinking,” are a few of the excited responses students shout with joy.  And then softly like a distant murmur that melts into silence, an unspoken signal to all, it is time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, in the recipe, Mac N’ Greens.

Silver Lining:  Mac N’ Greens formerly known as, The Pasta and Greens Recipe, morphed into a little jewel, due to an unfortunate circumstance. The supermarket where I grocery shop, sold out of my pasta of choice, and as a result, I settled on elbow macaroni. When I arrived to cooking class with the macaroni, my student’s eyes poured over with excitement and they cheered in unison, “Yes, we’re making Mac N’ Cheese.”  The idea stuck and I re-named it, Mac N’ Greens, a kid-friendlier version, which was an instant success.  I like the ease of preparation of this recipe it’s healthy with inexpensive ingredients and tasty!  Greens are a nutritional powerhouse too, mix and match for a contrast of flavors and textures, Collards, Chard, Kale, or add a little Broccoli Rabe for good measure. To make a creamier version, try some grated sharp cheddar cheese, and for a little crunch, top it with toasted breadcrumbs.

The Recipe:  Mac N’ Greens 

Carrie Fehr begins her thirteenth year as Chef Teacher for the cooking & gardening program in the Berkeley Unified School District. When not teaching or writing on her food blog, http://www.carriefehr.com.  Carrie practices Bikram yoga, and devotes many hours to cycling.  The New American Classroom:  Farm-To-School Cooking In Berkeley was  featured in Fedupwithlunch.com

Related articles:  Winter Greens

Beet Ketchup

Beets and ketchup may seem like an unlikely pair, but this intriguing sweet and tangy flavor combination, will truly make your taste buds come alive. If you’re a newcomer to beetroot, it’s a wonderful way to introduce this vegetable, that is by no means fancy, and is often misunderstood.

Bright and zesty with a hint of spice, this home-made ketchup is great slathered on to any sandwich, or side of sweet potato fries, and is a fantastic barbecue sauce for grilling.  Serve, as a dip for spring rolls, or over eggs—the possibilities are endless.

How do you prepare beets?  Do you have a creative way that encourages children to taste them?  I would love to hear your story.

To find out how students in the cooking classroom explore beets, click here.

Beet Ketchup

Beet Ketchup with Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized beets, diced

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup honey

1 ¾ cups balsamic vinegar

2 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

¼ tsp powdered mustard

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until liquid reduces by half, about 1 hour.

Remove spices and place ketchup into a blender and purée until smooth.  The consistency will be thick, smooth, and shiny.

Confetti Spaghetti

Bold colorful peppers and vine-ripened tomatoes always welcome me back to the kitchen classroom in the late summer, where I teach elementary school children how to cook real food inspired by the garden.

We kick off the season with the recipe, Confetti Spaghetti, highlighting the harvest’s bounty of bright jewel tones that look like the fireworks sky on the Fourth of July– a party on a plate that tastes like a celebration in your mouth.

And, oh so healthy too, these vibrant colored fruits and vegetables have a generous infusion of beneficial vitamins and minerals that nourish both the mind and body.

It’s no wonder that students eagerly swarm like bees to honey, to the cooking lesson. Excited fingers slice, dice, and roll fresh leaves of basil into cylinders that are thinly cut into a chiffonade.  This early hands-on nutrition lesson is not only fun and engaging for children, but will have a positive impact on the choices they make about food for many years into the future.

Confetti Spaghetti is one of the most versatile recipes you can have in your repertoire.  Feel free to choose your favorite seasonal vegetables, red, orange, even purple, and experiment with different flavors and textures or whatever is available to you.  Click here for the Confetti Spaghetti recipe.