Friday, July 15, 2011

Fun days in the kitchen

Week 3 of the Kids on Campus summer program (I know - I can't believe it's been three weeks already, either!) started off slow, but by the end we were really in the groove.

The meals were planned on a 10-day rotation, similar to how the school-year breakfast & lunch system works, so by this week we began to repeat a few food items. I think that this made life easier for everyone - as a kitchen staff, and for the students helping us, there was a greater level of confidence in the food we prepared. Additionally, new foods seem slightly less daunting the second time around. Overall, I feel like a LOT more food has been consumed this week.

Just as did the first Monday of camp, this Monday started out with a breakfast of creamy oatmeal. This time, we stirred in plenty of local honey and maple syrup and a touch of cinnamon. It's topped with a generous portion of stewed fruit made with peaches and currants. We have been getting what seems like a neverending supply of peaches from the Donation Station! We are so lucky!

Frittata: A fancy way to say "cheesy eggs with veggies." With the help of Team 4, we made frittata on Monday for the second time this summer. Sauteed onions and garlic were layered in with copious, fresh, almost fluffy kale and chard, along with cheese and an egg mixture. We set up an assembly line, and the kids helped us assemble it.

Weather-wise, this has been an abnormal year here in southeast Ohio. Spring rains seemed to stretch on for eons, delaying planting and early harvests, and now that summer has come, it has come with a vengeance and we are now experiencing continuous hotter temperatures. This has affected our menu at the camp, because we are so focused on getting food that is available fresh locally - which translates to whatever's in season, and this year, it hasn't always been what we might have expected for that point in the summer. We have been lucky enough to use exclusively local, cage free eggs in our kitchen, but this past week it became increasingly difficult to find such eggs. It has been so hot that nobody's hens are laying! So, we have had to "scramble" to switch around the menus. The kids love egg-based dishes, so luckily by week's end we were able to come up with a new source for eggs.

Speaking of eggs. . . what's next for breakfast? Tuesday's breakfast this week was French toast! We received an ample supply of donated honey-wheat bread from Crumbs bakery - perfect for drenching in batter, baking in the oven, then slathering with fresh blueberry syrup! The kids were thrilled to have French toast sticks, and we were thrilled that yes, in fact, you CAN make French toast in the oven! Syrup made that morning from fresh blueberries certainly didn't hurt, either.

The students' glee continued Tuesday afternoon as we served macaroni & cheese for a second time, as well. Cindy's trick for the mac & cheese still works well; we baked three sweet potatoes and blended them up into a creamy sauce with the cheese and milk, turning it a beautiful orange hue - and nobody was any the wiser (til now! oops!). Sweet potatoes lend a great, well, sweetness to the dish, and I love how easily they blend into pretty much anything you'd like.

After a weekend away, where everyone (students and leaders alike!) experienced a variety of distractions, it was a little difficult to drum up enthusiasm for the meals. Especially since I only see the majority of the kids at mealtimes, I struggle to find ways to connect with them, other than dancing around like a maniac and enthusiastically shrieking about how exciting it is that we are having oatmeal for breakfast! We are all so busy during the mealtimes, and we have all been trying a little harder to really connect with the kids. This week, we improved on that a lot and at every meal at least one or two of us VISTAs was able to sit down at a table and eat with the kids.

This post is long enough, so I'm going to sign off for the moment, and when I return, I'll update on the absolutely terrific, action-packed days we had to finish out the week! Happy Friday!

1 comment:

  1. What a great project you are involved with! I subbed at FHMS the day the classes were filming their "how to plant potatoes" videos. :) Keep up the great work!