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8-9s Learn Cooking Skills and Life Lessons at the MCS Farm

Friday, November 13, 2015

This week, the 8-9s experienced their second time in the Manhattan Country School Farm kitchen preparing food. Students are learning basic cooking techniques and independence in the kitchen, steadily progressing toward the day in eighth grade when each will prepare a whole meal for their class.

Thursday Donna’s cooking class made pizza and green salad, with an apple crisp for afternoon snack. Donna says, “I want them to learn to focus on each task to make the whole dish come together.”

She started off with the three rules of cooking, which are pretty good rules for life in general:

• Keep your hands out of your mouth and nose. (You don’t want to let your germs get into the food.)

• Any mess you make, you clean up.

• Take turns asking questions. (Don’t interrupt someone else.)

With guidance from Donna, the kids immediately jumped into their assigned tasks, and soon the kitchen was filled with the sound of chopping and mixing. They all seemed to enjoy the work, and Donna gave advice on best techniques.

Salad prep begins. Some basic instructions on slicing—always on the cutting board, never toward your hand.

Mixing flour with yeast and water to make a pizza dough.

Coring and slicing apples to begin the apple crisp.

The pizza dough gets kneaded. “Pat – pat – roll. Pat – pat – roll. Pat – pat – roll.” 

The salad is coming along nicely.

Rolling out the dough.

The apple crisp team consults the recipe to see what dry ingredients are needed. Then comes “searching and finding.” Donna says, “Everything in this kitchen is findable.” Students gather all the necessary tools and ingredients: flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, margarine (to keep it vegan), a big bowl, a baking dish, mixing spoons, measuring spoons and measuring cups. 

Using teaspoons and measuring cups. “You want your flour light and fluffy.” 

The pizzas are ready for sauce. 

The apple crisp is ready for the oven. 

The pizza gets sauce, and soon some cheese. 

In very little time the students whipped up a delicious meal. And very soon after, they and their classmates made it all disappear.

A few things overheard in the kitchen today:

“My dad loves to cook.”

“My grandpa loves to cook.”

“Do you like apple pie?”

“Do you like potato s’mores?”  

“That sounds disgusting!”

“How are home fries different from French fries?”

“I learned a new technique!”

“That’s perfect. Absolutely perfect!” (about pizza dough)

“Wow! This is fun.”

“Imagination. Generation. Animation!”