Blog: October 2016
Week two and our chefs burst into class and into a song and dance routine. All that energy was taken to the garden, where they sniffed the variety of herbs that grow and selected fresh oregano to season the cauliflower and apple side dish in today’s recipe, agreeing that it smelled like pizza. With clean hands and calm demeanors, we divided the class into two groups, one to prep and bake the chicken and one to prep and bake the vegetables.
“I’m getting my cooking on!” said Nailah Lipscomb, after she and Cianni Green abandoned using spoons to try and cover the chicken with marinade, and plunged their clean hands right into the bowl. The chicken cooked through but did not get brown in the oven, so we finished it in a skillet on the stove. The vegetable chefs chopped apples, cauliflower and onions—with a few tears from Malaysia Green “It hurts so bad!” she said, fanning her eyes. The vegetable crew all had a turn chopping the onions and gained skill and confidence with chopping.
While everything was cooking, the girls set the table, and made predictions about the day’s meal using their best adjectives and nibbling on a few extra pecans and apple pieces. “I think of ice cream when I taste pecans,” said Nailah Lipscomb. “I think of butter,” said Brazil Taylor.
Again this week, the girls finished, set the table and enthusiastically sat down to their meal. “It not only looks delicious, it tastes delicious,” said Cianni Green. No one disagreed and our enthusiastic chefs became enthusiastic diners.
What do you do when you have to nail a new rib into your boat What happens when the sides of the boat bounce a little and the nail just doesn't go in?
Well, you find a solution! You need a hand anvil! As your one hand hits the nail head with a hammer, your other hand holds the hand anvil against the rib and the boat's side so that all is strong enough to not bounce at the impact of the hammer and nail. Sound easy? We hope not--because it's not easy. This was the hard work being done on Thursday afternoon in the shop requiring coordination and consentration.
We started by steaming the cedar rib so that it would bend just right. The steamer was at full boil and the cedar bent very well into shape around the hull of the boat (see the picture below). Once it was bent, it was time to slip the rib into the boat. All the prep work had been done over the past few weeks. The rib slipped into its's spot perfectly. At that point, the only thing left was to fasten the rib to the rest of boat, which is where the hand anvil came in. The students tackled the project fully.
Our six junior chefs, a group of six young ladies in the 5th grade, came to class with open minds, ready hands and evident enthusiasm for cooking. “I am the official taste-tester in my house,” said Sobechi Igweatu, 10. “And the chopper.” Before we started we paid a visit to the UrbanPromise garden, where instructor Jane Berkowitz taught the girls how to cut the fresh Swiss chard that was growing and would replace spinach in our recipe. A few late grape tomatoes were plucked as well and our chefs were willing to give them a try. Back inside with hands washed, we got down to business with a preview read through of the recipe and some talk about favorite foods; and learned our group of chefs had fairly sophisticated palates, rolling off dishes like Alfredo sauce and linguini with shrimp, and French macaroons as favorites. “One thing you need to know about me and understand is that chocolate is my life,” said Cianni Green.
The girls got their assignments, some chopping vegetables and some cutting oranges but all of them following the directive ‘Mise en place’ –or everything in its place. “Mise-en-what?’ said Nailah Lipscomb, “that sounds like a disease!” Instructors Becky Bryan, Jane Berkowitz and Maureen Dodson worked closely with the girls on knife skills, filling small bowls with chopped peppers and onions, acutting board full of Swiss chard and another larger bowl with compost waste. Everyone had a turn whisking the eggs, sautéing the vegetables and scrambling the eggs. “I’m like a pro!” said Brazil Taylor, 10, moving the eggs around the pan with a spatula. The table was set without complaint and we all lined up to fill pita pockets with eggs. “Look at this,” said Cianni Green, holding up her plate with her stuffed pita. “I can’t believe we made this!”
Week after week with the students in the boat shop, we are thinking about how to create and nurture minds that are curious. It is not that we stop and write this down, but we do dream about how to get students to think further than they did when they came in the shop.
Let's take looking at aline of a boat for example. In boatbuilding, we ask, "Is it fair?" Not in the sense of justice or beauty, but does the curved line look right? Is your brain telling you that it looks good? If your brain thinks it looks good, then maybe it is fair. The point is not necessarily an exact science, but did they think to come to that conclusion? A simple yes or no answer is immediately followed by, "What tells you that?" which allows the student to share their observations and reasoning for the determination.
Before students get to build boats and determine if lines are fair, we start with trips to interesting places like the Gazela, Philly's Tall Ship, and working with wood, seeing what we can make.
These adventures and hands-on experiences pique curiosity--we can see it in the students' eyes. I invite you to take a look at these pictures and see the students' interest--look at their eyes. These students are amazing.