A Challenging Assignment

Be careful when bringing your baked goods to work. That’s what got food blogger and high school literacy consultant Julie assigned to teach an elective cooking class at her school—30 minutes, four times a week, without a stove, oven, or even hot plate.

Julie’s gamely rising to the occasion, writing on her blog that she hopes her 17 students “learn a bit, just a bit about chemistry, geography, history, foreign languages, math, literature, and all the other domains that are also ingredients in the culinary world.”

She’s also asking for suggestions of recipes that can be made in less than 30 minutes, without a proper kitchen.

In planning this class, Julie is up against more than just the limitations of her facilities:

Our kids, for the most part, are not exactly brave tasters. Many of them eat chips and soda for breakfast, shunning healthier options. Lunch, as I’ve said, is almost always frozen pizza or hamburgers…. I don’t know how many of them actually sit down to a home-cooked family dinner each night, but I doubt the numbers are large.

Yet she has high hopes for what this class might accomplish:

This will be an opportunity to have them expand their horizons, begin to figure out their own predilections, develop an adventurous palate. I want them to try new things, venture into new disciplines, learn about places and times outside their experience—all through a bit of minimal ‘cold cooking.’ I want them to learn to love fruits and vegetables as much as they love candy.

Classes are now under way, and Julie has been posting updates. One student confesses she is taking the class because her grandparents think she needs to be able to cook for a future husband, while a male student says, “I hear cooking is a good way to get girls!”

There are other revelations as well—the fresh raspberries Julie brings to class are the first fresh raspberries any of the students have ever tasted. “I can’t describe to you the sheer pleasure of providing kids with experiences they’ve never had,” Julie writes, ”even something as tiny as a raspberry.”

The adventures continue, so stay tuned. “Tuesday I’ll bring in the blender,” Julie reports. “Let’s just hope the walls are not Jackson Pollacked with smoothie ingredients by the time we’re finished.”

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