Friday, September 30, 2011

Sun-baked Smiles

Sometimes the kids follow the script without any prompting. Wild Child looks down into the bowl of fresh salsa we have just made and says, surprised, “There’s a rainbow in this bowl!” Couldn’t have said it better if I tried and tried.

Recipe for happy, happy third graders:

Try out the new solar oven on something easy: fill the pan with chips and grated cheese. (Yes, the garden kitchen has embraced nachos this week, since we have so many many ripe tomatoes perfect for salsa.) Get as excited as the kids when the cheese melts!

School Garden Salsa:

Harvest every tomato you can find on campus (mostly cherries).
Have everyone smell their yummy sunsoaked hands. Wash them (tomatoes and hands). Have one kid peel and press three humongous cloves of heirloom German garlic. Have the bravest kid peel and chop half a purple onion. Talk about the exciting cascade of chemical reactions that make people cry when an onion is cut until the kids are all debating the difference between the word “nerd” and the word “geek.” Get the hint.

Meanwhile, two kids can be hard at work chopping the tomatoes, which, given that we have only “kid-safe” knives, is no easy task. The straggler can chop a handful of parsley (Well, there was no cilantro around, and they honestly could have cared less). Trade jobs as often as needed to get all the tomatoes chopped and the onion in tiny tiny pieces that won’t make anyone revolt.

Chop into micron-sized bits half a jalapeño pepper. Resist Wild Child’s pleas to take this task on himself. Instead, have him entertain the others with his exciting reenactment of last year’s salsa day, when you (after being beguiled by the beauty of the extra-hot habañero in the store) let the kids chop the peppers themselves. Your main memory of that day was the beautifully penned, overly polite note that came down from the office: “Perhaps in the future you could not let the kids put hot peppers into their eyes?” Wild Child’s version is a bit more raucous, involving lots of running around holding his eyes and screaming.

Mix everything with some sea salt in a big bowl and hand it to Wild Child to put on the picnic table while you pull the nachos out of the very hot sun oven. Smile when he gets his line just right.

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