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When you work with students, you expect a certain amount of turnover.  Sometimes kids who were excited at the thought of cooking have other familial commitments, whether it’s traveling to Mexico to see family or it’s heading straight home to take care of a younger sibling.   Sometimes kids who were excited at the thought of cooking realize they’d rather play basketball on a Thursday.  Sometimes kids who were excited at the thought of cooking simply can’t stay after school because of their parents’ work schedule.  It doesn’t matter; there’s always a reason and while it can be frustrating to not have the continuity of a group, it opens the door to other students stepping in and filling the departed shoes.

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It’s this “glass half full” perspective I’m trying to employ more often.  I can definitely be a bit of a curmudgeon (my word), and I originally thought the kids would be so stoked to be cooking there would be no way they wouldn’t want to be a part of Barrio Bites!  Family illness, parents’ jobs, siblings, cross-border travel?  Of course they’ll take a backseat to Barrio Bites!  So I was a little (lot) delusional, but I just really wanted the kids to have fun, learn some authentic skills, enjoy the fruits of their labor, educate themselves, and eat healthier.  What’s wrong with that?  Nothing, really, but one must temper expectations, and one must realize to not force those square pegs into those round holes.  St. Augustine said, “Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”  And so it is that Barrio Bites must lay that foundation and realize along the way that it will be built by the hands of the many, not the hands of the few.  So I’m grateful for those kids who were with Barrio Bites for only one class, those who have been with us since its’ inception (Bianney, Luis, Jose G., Carolina, Latavia, Armando, Angel, Andy), and the new students who helped this past week (Stephanie, Alondra, Bryan)

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The students did a great job this past week.  They made a roasted garlic-chipotle potato puree and sauteed steak tips with salsa verde.  They worked at different stations and they killed it.  One group prepped the sauce for the potato puree; they created a nice “garlic confit” in a toaster oven, pureed it with canned chipotles, cilantro, and lime zest.  While they worked on this, another station got the potatoes ready and another the salsa verde.

For the salsa verde, the students pulsed two bay leaves, a serrano, garlic cloves, white wine vinegar.  After this was pulsed up coarsley, they added the chopped cilantro and parsley as well as the extra virgin olive oil.  The salsa verde was a nice math lesson for the young cooks because they mistakenly added too much vinegar, which all the kids mentioned when they ate the finished product, so they could see what happens with a little overkill of acidity.  Some loved the bite of the final product, while others commented on it being too strong.  Regardless, they learned something about themselves.

When the potatoes were done, the students added some additional roasted garlic and milk to them.  They pureed them using hand mixers before the added the roasted garlic-chipotle sauce.  They then topped the puree with the sauteed steak tips, which were drizzled with the salsa verde.  (Note to self – Food does not photograph well on paper plates!)Imaged

All in all, another great Barrio Bites!  The kids worked hard to keep their stations clean, and they all worked as a team to create a fantastic final product.  I loved seeing the collaborative process in action, as well as the kids using their reading/math skill to decipher recipes.  They were fantastic, and I could not be prouder.

And I know, regardless of who shows up this week or any week, they will have helped lay some of the bricks to build Barrio Bites into something greater than the sum of its’ parts.  They are all blessings.

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