The first clue that it’s a cooking day at any local elementary reaches most students through their noses. Last month the sweet spicy aroma of turmeric and cumin permeated the hallways. This week and through early March, it’s a new scent: garlic, tamari, and ginger!  

Our final cooking class lesson of the season, Garden Stir Fry, provides student chefs a chance to exercise the skills they’ve learned during the last few months. One group chops purple cabbage, keeping fingers safe with “bear claw” and “tunnel” techniques learned last class.

Student chefs with carrots

These student chefs have learned to safely shred carrots – and to munch or compost the remains!

Another group takes turns dicing half an onion or shredding carrots, while another measures peas or tests measuring skills by combining tamari, garlic, ginger and pepper into a delicious stir fry sauce. Teamwork brings it all together!

Student chef is learning to shred carrots

This student chef is learning to shred carrots!

While the ingredients simmer, students engage in conversation about food waste. According to the USDA, between 30-40% of the food supply in the US is eventually wasted. In 2010, 133 billion pounds of food, with a net worth of $160 billion dollars, produced methane in landfills rather than feeding hungry people. We hope this month’s recipe and conversation will inspire students to think creatively about ways to use leftovers that might otherwise go to the landfill.

Students also discuss the benefits of “eating the rainbow”: The more naturally colorful the meal, the more vitamins and nutrients our bodies get. And it’s fun: “This made me like vegetables!” exclaimed one excited second grader as he savored the flavors of his garden stir-fry. Nothing could bring us more delight than these words of excitement from our aspiring chefs!

Thanks to all the kids, teachers, and parents who have so enthusiastically participated in another winter of cooking classes. It’s time soon to get back out in the garden!

Clean up after cooking

Clean up after cooking!

Student dishwashing team

Student chefs serve on the dishwashing team!

You’ll find our Garden Stir Fry recipe here, with downloadable PDFs in English and Spanish. Enjoy!