Saturday, February 18, 2012


The faithful readers may have noticed that so far, February has been, well… a little difficult. The kids were pushing at the boundaries, hard. So at the beginning of this week’s class, with the children all lined up on benches waiting for their assignments, I was fully expecting T to give a stern lecture on, oh, you know, Respect and Following Directions and so on.
Instead, she asked them to choose their activity. “Who wants to build raised beds? Who wants to cook?” Whaaa? She’s letting them pick? Surely, chaos and pandemonium will ensue!
The potential chefs warily ask, “What are we cooking?” to which T responds breezily, “Whatever you want!” and sends the two who want to cook trotting off toward me, the assigned kitchen helper of the day, who had in fact been told that we were making sautéed greens.
Well, okay then, um, kid choice. I did have to clarify a bit: “We can make whatever you want within the parameters of what ingredients are available. And what’s ready for harvest is mostly kale.”
These kids, though, they are incredible! They harvested a HUGE mess of kale, found a leek and some garlic in the garden, and went to town. They also wanted biscuits, and there happened to be a big bag of Pamela’s gluten-free baking mix in the fridge, so they whipped out a big batch of gluten-free drop biscuits in time for the box-builders to have a fabulous after work snack.
The afternoon group, five cooks in all, decided that greens were off the menu, so they made pizza, or, well, they made the closest thing to pizza we could do given our aforementioned parameters.
And guess what? They were angels. Given some space, some latitude, and an opportunity to invent, they also self-regulated, which worked out far better than our attempts to regulate them usually do. Ahhh, freedom.
So, kid-inventions below. 
(Plus, the other groups built some rocking redwood garden beds!)

 Super-delicious greens
Harvest a big bunch of kale. Then harvest double that amount, while explaining to the kids how greens cook down much smaller than their original size. Harvest, wash and chop one leek, sauté in olive oil. 
While waiting for leek to cook, chop up a small head of slightly green heirloom red garlic (sooo yum), then add that into the pan. 
While all that was going on, someone was washing and chopping up the kale. Add as much as you can fit (about half) into the pan until the pan is heaped high, then watch it cook down. Add some Bragg’s Amino Acids and dump it into a bowl. 
Decide that before you cook the rest of the greens you will roast up some pumpkin seeds in your pan so throw those in. When they seem toasty, add a bit more oil and the rest of the kale, sauté until bright green and soft. Add more Bragg’s if you want. 
Combine the two batches and chow down. Very excellent served with gluten-free drop biscuits. 

Garlic flatbread (the foodstuff formerly known as pizza)
Harvest some red garlic. Get a bit carried away, and harvest a lot. 
Wash, peel and chop small, sauté. 
Meanwhile, set up two bowls for dough. Let the kids figure out what they want in their dough (okay to give hints). Bowl #1 used one egg, gluten-free baking mix, and some water. Bowl #2 used wheat flour, an egg, some baking powder (no yeast on hand), and salt. They each mixed and kneaded and flattened out the dough on a cookie sheet as best they could. 
Spread oil and sautéed garlic all over the dough, cook at 450 or so until brown on edges (gluten-free cooks faster, fyi), about 10ish minutes. 
While baking explain psychology of naming food to kids: if they tell their classmates they are serving "pizza," the kids will be expecting tomato sauce and cheese. If they say "garlic bread," they will be expecting sliced bread with butter. "Garlic flatbread," consensus reached by the time the food was ready. And the kids all loved it!

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