Wednesday, November 28, 2007
It was Greek Day at Kitchen Club. One of the things I've always liked about unschooling is that it lets my kids be square pegs, in all their odd, angular glory. They don't feel a need to whittle off their sharp bits to fit into anyone's round holes. The flipside of this freedom is that when you get nine unschooled kids together, ranging in age from 3 to 15, boy, is there ever a wide range of personalities, styles, abilities and affinities!
But we seem to manage. In fact we were so efficient today with our cooking that I think some of the kids blinked and missed the entire preparation sequence of certain dishes. The Other Mom (O.M.) and I talked about this afterwards. Do we want to step into the role of drawing the kids' attention to, say, what is getting mixed together to make the tzatziki, so that they learn a bit more about the food we're preparing? We decided we didn't want to. Kitchen Club is about being together, working and enjoying interesting foods. Learning happens as part of that, but to pull the learning to the forefront would risk upsetting the other good things that are going on. It would subtly introduce a parental agenda. These kids have very sensitive antennae when it comes to parental agendas.
So there was a frenzy of food preparation and a meal appeared. It was rather miraculous, actually. In fact, we were so quick that after things were in the oven the kids went outside sledding for the better part of an hour. The O.M. and I happily cleaned up dishes, chatted and revelled in the quiet.
First up this morning was a post-script to last session's New Zealand meal. I had finally managed to track down some Marmite. Not the Kiwi/Oz variety, just the plain old British stuff, but every one of us had the exquisite, likely-once-in-a-lifetime experience of snacking on Marmite on toast.
I had some pita dough rising, so everyone got a blob of dough to roll out. We cooked them
one at a time. We got about "fifty percent puffage" which wasn't bad since we were using the electric frying pan. We didn't need perfect pockets in our pitas since we were just planning to use our pitas for dipping, not stuffing. Each child set theirs aside on a plate for lunch. In one corner we had a workstation going for preparation of a Greek Salad. We omitted the tomatoes since the local specimens were well past their prime. Fiona was thrilled with this because she dislikes fresh tomatoes. In another corner of the kitchen, some people were preparing the filling for Spanakopita. We substituted fresh cow cheese for the feta. In yet another corner, Noah and I did up the tzatziki. When this first phase was finished it was time to assemble the spanakopita and to get to work on the baklava. We had quite the filo pastry assembly-line going for a while. Then the baklava and spanakopita went into the oven and the kids disappeared outside.
Forty minutes later we had a lovely feast.
We decided that our next Kitchen Club will focus on German fare -- especially German Christmas treats. We'll do quadruple batches, share each production run between the families and each go home with lots of Christmas baking.