Saturday, July 23, 2011
Rising dough, raising vegetables
Just like always, we had some fantastic meals this week. On Tuesday, Team 3 rolled out dough for cinnamon rolls, and filled the sweet yeasty dough with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, and butter. And was this just any old butter? No! This was butter that the kids themselves had made only moments before by shaking Snowville heavy whipping cream in little glass jars; after only a few minutes of agitation, the buttermilk began to separate, leaving chunks of yellow butter in each jar! They spread the butter on the dough, sprinkling it with sugar before rolling them up tight and leaving them for the morning, when we baked them until golden brown. What sweet smells filled our hallway Wednesday morning! We served the rolls with fresh peaches from a seemingly unending supply. Oh, July, bring it on!
After that successfully yummy morning, Wednesday continued rolling merrily along. We had a busy day in the kitchen, as Team 2 also helped make butter, began to mix dough for biscuits for Thursday's breakfast, and helped us get ready for lunch by cheerily chopping squash and grating cheese. Lunch Thursday? Oven-baked quesadillas, stuffed with two kinds of cheese and a savory black bean mixture. The squash we coated in a basic blend of spices, olive oil, and roasted nuts (which add a pleasing texture as well as packing a protein punch!) and served alongside the gooey quesadillas. We are once again flush with corn, which is always a popular side and finished the meal nicely.
Thursday's breakfast was another big hit, and another making its debut appearance on our menu. Fluffy biscuits were topped with soysage gravy - yes, you read that right, no sausage gravy for us this summer, but you wouldn't believe the things they can do with vegetable protein these days! Personally, I try not to mold my diet around premade meat substitutes, but the product we chose (called GimmeLean! and available in the same iconic tube as Jimmy Dean) is made of quality ingredients - and most important, it's tasty, full of protein, and the kids loved it, especially after it was simmered in a classic, creamy gravy. We continue to be up to our ears in fresh produce, and were able to give each student a plum and a juicy chunk of watermelon with their breakfast. Watermelon with breakfast, you say? Sure, it goes a little beyond tradition - but, hey, it's summer!
Speaking of tradition, Thursday's lunch is somewhat of a tradition, and depending on what area of Ohio or the Midwest you live in, you might have a different traditional name for it. We cooked up a huge pot of chili (I've been asked, "What do you put in chili if you don't put meat in it?" Answer: "Everything!"), filled with fresh vegetables and two kinds of beans, then served it over spaghetti noodles, and topped with cheese. In reference to the famous Cincinnati style, many around here call this Skyline Spaghetti, while I've heard folks in other places call it "sketty red" - and I'm sure, dear reader, that you may have your own name for it. Many people have never heard of topping spaghetti with chili, and many others know no other way of eating chili. I apologize for this tangent, but isn't culinary culture fascinating? To go with the Skyline Spaghetti, we breaded some zucchini fresh from the school garden (which is becoming more and more plentiful) and fried 'em up (in the oven, that is), and served them next to the ubiquitous slices of peaches and watermelon.
Speaking of the garden, Thursday in class Team 1 learned how to make kale chips, tearing this leafy green fresh from the school garden and tossing it in light spices before putting it in the oven, where they crisped up nicely and the students were able to enjoy a snack before washing the lunchtime dishes, a task which they did a wonderful job of!
It seems like the more food we serve, the more the kids eat, and that is fantastic. More and more students are returning for second helpings, and we're getting more hugs in the lunch line from younger students. It's hard to believe there's only one week left!