The children and the teachers jumped right into cooking. Apples from our 120+ year-old-tree on the playground were gathered, washed and cooked down in a slow cooker, for applesauce. Zucchini was harvested from the CHP garden, and giant zucchini donated from one of our generous families. The zucchini was shredded, and some used for zucchini bread, while some was frozen for later cooking projects. Our homemade applesauce was also used in place of oil in the bread.
A large pear tree in our neighborhood, heavy with fruit, was the destination for a walk to gather pears. The pears were eaten as a fresh snack and also combined with apples for a pear-applesauce with cinnamon.
The experience of picking and then cooking these fruits and vegetables teaches the children about food sources, the time and work involved in making food and the delight of eating something that you helped cook.
The children were very enthusiastic to put on their white chef aprons and get to work. We set up our cooking class right in the middle of the classroom, where all are invited to join. Washing hands is always first on the list. Children then gathered around the table and took turns measuring ingredients, cracking eggs, stirring and preparing muffin tins. As we cook, we talk about the ingredients and where they come from. Today while making zucchini bread we smelled the cinnamon and learned that cinnamon is a bark from the Cassia tree grown in tropical regions.
Waiting your turn can be challenging, especially when there are many children cooking. Yet this creates an important opportunity to learn delayed gratification, waiting and sharing; fundamental aspects of social emotional development, and life-long skills. We all have the common goal of cooking and eating our snack, so the teachers remind the little chefs that everyone will get their turn and we will all get to eat the end product. Another lesson learned is that cooperation can lead to delicious rewards. The aroma of the beautifully prepared food fills the senses of the teachers, children and parents. The olfactory sense is the strongest sense tied to memory; we believe all the goodness of sharing, cooking, community, hygiene, and nutrition will be locked into their memories by this experience.
Stay tuned for our next cooking adventure!