Cheese balls are often associated with parties, holidays and potlucks! But why limit them to just those events? I get to a point in the year when I have “a little of this and a little of that” leftover from other labs and taste tests. So I decided to have a pantry raid lab and have students make “cheese balls”. All I had to do was buy a block of cream cheese for each group and provide some parameters for the challenge. See below for more details.
In the Ethnic Foods class, students study all of the regions of the world. The course begins with “Why do we Eat the Foods we Eat?” This lesson was created to stimulate the ‘investigative minds’ of students, encouraging them to ask questions and seek answers. In the study of American Culture, each region is celebrated with an authentic foods lab. This project was created to get students to understand the influence of other cultures on our own American favorites.
The English Muffin Challenge was a spur of the moment lab! One of our school clubs had two packages of English Muffins left over from an event that they generously donated to us. In addition, I had several left over ingredients from some other labs that I didn’t want to waste. So, I threw it all together for a challenge lab! Students had 40 minutes to create an aesthetic, edible product using the English Muffin and following the parameters of the challenge. Overall, the results were successful, albeit some interesting! However, students walked away knowing they could put together a filling dish, using only available leftovers. The beauty of this type of lab is that the challenge and follow-up assignment could revolve around any food you have an abundance of and wish to use up!
A student recently asked me why scrambled eggs tasted different at their friends and relatives houses compared to scrambled eggs made at home. Great question! I decided to let my students conduct an experiment by preparing scrambled eggs with different liquids in order to discover the effects each had on the eggs’ appearance, taste and texture. Not only did this experimental lab get the students into the kitchen to teach them how to make scrambled eggs, but it was a great way to incorporate a little food science into the curriculum as well!
There are so many herbs and spices out there that it’s hard to know where to start! In the past, I’ve had my students pick an herb or spice to research and present to the rest of the class. While that was okay, I wanted something a little more “spicy” (pardon my pun) and interactive. After wracking my brain for how I was going to do this, I put it aside for a while. Finally, after months of mulling this over in my head, the following activities and labs came to fruition and were worth the wait! I hope your students like it as much as mine did!
When I ask my students what they or their parents typically make for supper, I get a lot of similar responses. Most tell me they make and or eat whatever is easy, comes out of a box, comes out of the freezer, can be made in the microwave or picked up from a fast food restaurant on the way home. It’s so sad that convenience foods are so heavily relied on instead of preparing foods from scratch. This is one of the reasons I like teaching about casseroles! Not only are they easy to make, include a variety of foods and nutrients, but they can be made in advance, put in the freezer for future meals and convenience and because they get us in the kitchen cooking and using a lot of staple ingredients from the pantry. Way to go casseroles!
Doing a unit on fish and seafood can be expensive so most programs leave it out. I had the privileged of working at a high school with a fish market adjacent to the school. We took a walking field trip to the fish market for a demonstration of how to select and cook fish. This was an awesome opportunity for students and helped mitigate the costs to the culinary department. With a little creative thinking, you maybe able to incorporate a seafood unit into your culinary program.
How old are the cooking DVD’s or VHS tapes (ikes) on your shelf? I had the pleasure of reviewing Math Skills for Measurements by QuannaGourmet. LaQuanna Sparkman, a former Family and Consumer Science teacher took to creating her own videos after showing her fair share of dated videos that had students more focused on actors’ clothes and hair styles than content. LaQuanna has a series of cooking DVD’s that offer updated looks, great information, and a decent price.