Welcome to day 19 of 30 Days to a Food Revolution. Our guest blogger today is Michelle of What’s Cooking. Michelle Stern owns What’s Cooking, a certified green company that offers cooking classes for children in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not only do her classes teach kids and their families to enjoy delicious homemade foods, but they also motivate families to use food and cooking to help those less fortunate. Michelle has appeared on ABC’s View From the Bay 7 times and was recently a guest on a radio show about Childhood Obesity. When she isn’t in the kitchen or at the computer, she’s the head chauffeur for her two children, dog walker to her two mutts, and chicken feeder for her backyard flock.
Michelle’s Recipe: Smashed Tomato and Basil Bruschetta and Pear, Honey and Quark Bruschetta
Michelle’s Tip: Cooking with Kids, a Grassroots Strategy for a Food Revolution
I just might have the best job in the world. But I am pretty sure that lots of people think I am completely off my rocker. Why else would I want to spend my days in the kitchen with children or teaching their families how to avoid power struggles during mealtime? Regardless of my mental condition, 6 years of teaching children and their families how to cook has made one thing perfectly clear: Children who cook eat better.
I could end this article right there. It’s a simple enough concept. Why then is it so hard to find people who are willing to cook with their children? Is it because it is messy? Maybe it’s because it slows them down? Or maybe they don’t want to risk that the recipe won’t turn out as expected. While all of those concerns are valid, the benefits of cooking with kids way outweighs these inconveniences.
It’s easy to make excuses about why not to cook with your kids. But with a little effort, it can be done – even without a proper kitchen. If I can cook with a group of children in the middle of a farm festival, anyone can do it at home or in school.
Back in October, I found myself cooking with an eager and hungry group of kids atop hay bales in the middle of Full Belly Farm for the third year in a row. We were sitting outside with dust in the air, ants skittering around, and hay bits clinging to our ingredients. It was a far cry from cooking in a sterile commercial kitchen or even at home. But we were close to our food. Most of our ingredients, in fact, were grown within a stone’s throw from our makeshift kitchen. It was perfect. (Just don’t tell the health department.)
I wanted to use fresh ingredients that were in season. Even for the pickiest eater, it is hard to resist foods that are fresh from the ground, fragrant, juicy and delicious. I decided to make Bruschetta 2 ways. Both took advantage of ingredients that were either grown at Full Belly Farm, or those that were donated by local artisans and farms from the farmer’s market. Neither of these recipes required “cooking” and both were perfect for our rustic surroundings.
Smashed Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
1 basket cherry tomatoes, or 2 handfuls
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Small handful fresh basil leaves, chopped.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread (choose gluten free if needed)
1/4 cup olive oil
- Squash the tomatoes in a bowl. You can squeeze them in your hand, but be careful of spraying juice.
- Make sure there is a top rack in place in your oven. Turn on the oven to 450°F to preheat.
- While the oven is heating, add the remaining ingredients to the tomatoes.
- Slice the baguette on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick slices.
- Coat one side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down. You will want to toast them in the top rack in your oven, so you may need to do these in batches depending on the size of your oven.
- Once the oven has reached 450°F, place a tray of bread slices in the oven on the top rack. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.
- Alternatively, you can toast the bread without coating it in olive oil first. Toast on a griddle for 1 minute on each side. Rub some garlic onto the bread and drizzle half a teaspoon of olive oil on each slice.
- Align the bread on a serving platter, olive oil side up.
- Either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread, or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve.
10. If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.
Pear, Honey and Quark Bruschetta
Michelle Stern, What’s Cooking
Honey, to taste
Country bread (currant or walnut raisin) again, choose a gluten free option if needed.
- Toast bread slices.
- Spread each slice of toast with quark.
- Top with diced or thinly sliced pears.
- Drizzle honey over the pears, to taste.
Michelle has more information here.
In order to be entered to win one of 7 cookbooks, here’s what you need to do to gather entries into the drawing. The more you do, the more chances you have to win!
- Leave a comment on this blog on as many of the 30 guest food bloggers as you like. Each comment is an entry.
- Sign up for The W.H.O.L.E. Gang newsletter.
- Visit that guest blogger’s site and leave a comment there too.
- Tweet about this project using both of these in your tweet so I’ll find you #30days2 #foodrevolution
When the initial 30 days of guest posts are over on June 4th, we’ll pick the winners.