Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cooking Day

Last year I started a tradition I fear I may never be able to break.  My French 1s were about to be in a unit about food and my 2s in a unit about cooking.  These units would both end right around spring break as well.  To keep them motivated to keep going, I decided to schedule a big cooking day when the units were done.  I e-mailed the family and consumer science teachers to see if we could use the kitchens and then e-mailed the principal at each school asking for permission and also asking what would be the best way to get funding for the groceries.  Both actually very generously offered to give us funding from the budget.  I decided to have my classes from each respective school cook together (I teach a level 1 and a split level 2/3 at each school) because I would be taking them out of two other hours of the day.  Plus I knew I was crazy enough to do it once at each school.  Twice at each school would probably be a suicide mission. 

Despite how stressful I knew it would be, how fun would it be for these kids to be able to cook French dishes and sample them too?  To make the groups, I surveyed them about their cooking abilities.  I had them fill out a little slip of how good of a cook they are (if they are experienced, if they would be able to help others, if they don't do well at all) as well as if they have any food allergies that would keep them from preparing or eating a specific dish.

Being the first year, last year I went quite over budget and ended up footing about $70 worth of the bill (whoops!).  Lesson learned for this year, though, and I managed to stay just under the budget line.  Last year our menu had dishes only from France.  One dish I will never do again is French onion soup.  I did not think of the fact that the students would have to chop so many onions.  Even kids not cutting the onions were crying!

This year I mixed it up.  We did dishes from France as well as other Francophone countries.  We tried Yassa Poulet (from Senegal) and Poutine (from Canada) along with some other yummy French dishes (Boeuf Bourguignon, Tartiflette, Mousse au Chocolat, Eclairs, and Crepes).  I also get a few fresh baked baguettes and some cheese.  I got blue cheese and brie last year and this year, but my students haven't been very daring to try it.  I'm thinking I'll save the money and forgo it next year.  Or see if I can find some even smaller blocks.

It's always a very stressful day.  I swear I hear "Madame!" more on my cooking day than all the other days of the year combined.  A lot of the recipes require some "tweaking".  This year I tried to write all of the tweaks on them (for example... the fries for the Poutine were just going to be baked, not fried) but sometimes tweaks have to happen in the moment (we only had 20 minutes to simmer the Boeuf Bourguignon instead of the hour and fifteen it asked for.. but because everything was cooked and the simmering was only for flavor, we could cut that time).  But it still went well and it all was delicious.  I'm hoping this is a tradition we can continue!

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