Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Notes from the Intern: Gardening & Cooking Club

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to join the Gardening and Cooking class at the Cook Arts Center. The class works with Mixed Greens, which is an organization that works to bring kids back in touch with the outdoors. Mr. Nick was the teacher of the day and he had a great activity planned for them that included an unlikely star…rhubarb.

He first wowed the group by saying that the leafy part of rhubarb is poisonous, and then handed each child a stalk. With awe, they held on to their powerful, but unassuming plants. After removing the leafy part, the kids were then able to chop up their stalk into smaller pieces (with a dull knife, of course!) Then, on the count of three, the kids were all able to pop a piece of raw rhubarb into their mouths. “Mmmm” and “ewww” erupted from all sides. Personally, I was surprised at how much rhubarb tasted like sour candy when it was raw, although some of the “eww" kids disagreed.

Nick then had the kids stand around the griddle and pour the rhubarb in. As it sizzled in the butter, kids were able to pour different ingredients in. As it cooked, some of the kids that were able to tear their eyes away from the rhubarb colored a picture of rhubarb.

As they colored, Mr. Nick put a secret ingredient into cups that left many guesses floating in the air. As the coloring slowed down, Mr. Nick called for attention and began to pour the rhubarb sauce over the special ingredient. He then handed it out to everyone and on the count of three everyone tasted it. Ice cream and rhubarb! Almost all of us agreed that the sweet and sour taste was delicious.

It was fun for the kids (and me!) to see within a half hour the transformation that the rhubarb went through. The best part was that at the end of class, each kid was able to go out to our garden and pick two stalks of rhubarb for themselves to take home.

* Shelly is a senior at Calvin College majoring in English and Studio Art. She shares her experiences interning at the Cook Arts Center on this blog once a week. **

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