Carrie Fehr

Kitchen Garden Food, Fitness and Lifestyle

Tag: Cooking in the Classroom

Celebrate Legumes!

The cooking classroom prepares for the Cinco De Mayo celebration with black bean tacos. Students roll fresh masa between excited fingers and use wooden tortilla presses to make home-made tortillas. It’s fun to mash guacamole in a molcajete and shake sweet red onion pickles like maracas in old-fashioned mason jars!





The New American Classroom: Farm-To-School Cooking

By Carrie Fehr

As 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, reach 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, was 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 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: http://kidseatingright.com/recipes-5/mac-n-greens/

Carrie Fehr begins her twelfth 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.  She is an advocate for school food reform and is working on a book about her cooking lessons learned from the classroom.  The New American Classroom:  Farm-To-School Cooking In Berkeley was  featured in Fedupwithlunch.com

The Science of Cooking: Citrus Rocks

By Carrie Fehr

“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:  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 through plants, such as fruits and vegetables, along with a little history about citrus, 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, like the wild-looking, yet extremely fragrant Buddha’s hand, or the tiny oval kumquat often classified in its own genus, though with its sweet rind and intense tart pulp–make our lips pucker, to the beloved pomelo, which is heavy like a bowling bowl, and grows on a tree that spans across the landscape up to an impressive 50 feet high.  The citrus harvest basket is brimming with diverse learning opportunities that weave together its folklore, health, and environment, and imparts a sense of wonder and appreciation that inspire 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 that 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 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.