A corner of our school garden
 thanks to the creative efforts of Urban Sprouts!

It is the last week of classes and our garden at school has been bursting into bloom: poppies, artichokes, cauliflower, chard, parsley, nasturtium.  Just in time for the bees in our new beehive to feel welcome.

We picked some of the chard on a rainy Monday, a few edible blossoms, the mint and a few herbs, trying not to strip the plants on one hand or harvest too little to allow everyone to taste on the other.

We headed inside and made some fresh mint tea, delicious!  And started another harvest, talking about what worked this year in our Culinary Arts class, and what didn’t work (of course while keeping our hands busy making a filling for empanadas with our harvest).  Here are some of the responses:

Curriculum Keeper #1: That meal we cooked last week:

Chicken Piccatta
Mashed Potatoes
Chard and Chard Stem Sauteed with Garlic

They liked it for its ease and deliciousness (“We could make this at home”).  I was stopped for a quick review on the spot, a double-check on how to cook chard this way.

Curriculum Keeper #2: All the pastas, and our housemade chicken sausage that went into the tomato sauce. Extrusion and mortar & pestles are cool. They have been cool for a very, very long time.

Curriculum Keeper #3: Pastel Tres Leches – and this was from those new to this classic but was also chorused by those who already knew this dessert.  After our weeks of making desserts for events, I was surprised they chose this easy, refreshingly sweet cake.

Some suggestions:

  • More on food values
  • More food we can make at home
  • Teach us more on how to be waiters

And when we got into the don’ts, it was hard to pin down a specific item not to make again. A few students mentioned a recipe that they may not have liked personally, only to find the person next to them loved it. It was great to be able see all the smiles through this – now that we were all speaking with some authority, it remained an enjoyable discussion.

The next day I received a thank you note from one of my students:

Dear Ms. Chef Cravens:
I thank you for your kind help in cooking class.  I have discovered that one does not have to be born with a skill to make delicious food.  It comes from the love you put in the food – and I built friendship with people I thought I’d never talk to.

Perhaps I’ve received the best harvest of all this year. Have a great summer everyone!

The Harvest May 2010

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