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3rd Grade Social Studies: Week 5

This week we made pupusas in celebration of the food of El Salvador. We moved our opening circles to the classroom to give everyone a chance to listen more actively with less distraction, which worked well. Students shared what they had learned about the country or something personal from their own families about Salvadoran culture.

One thing that quickly emerges when you study human history through food is how much we have in common. The foundation of the pupusa is nearly identical to that of the tortillas we made from Mexico. However, before cooking the masa dough, we filled the pupusas with fresh cheese, then closed up the filling before frying in oil.

We enjoyed our Salvadoran snack with a traditional accompaniment called curtido, a cabbage relish Ms. Katie and I made a week before to give the ingredients time to ferment and develop flavor. The result was intensely delicious and so easy to put together, we hope lots of students will try the recipe at home.

All of us at The Breakfast Project wish to give a special shoutout to our fearless classroom volunteers: Aurelie David de Lossy, Julie Wise, Cindy Peterson, and Melissa Blizzard Brown! Thank you for taking time to work and eat with our amazing third graders every week.

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Chefs in the City Week 6A: Richmond - Grechnevaya Kasha

Though Russians arrived in San Francisco before the Gold Rush, the real influx occurred in the 20th century following the Russian Civil War in the 1920s, WWII, and anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. The resulting Russian enclave in the Richmond District along Geary Boulevard and Clement Street is still thriving today, and our breakfast this week featured an ingredient, kasha, or toasted buckwheat groats, that Russians use in both sweet and savory preparations.

Students passed around the buckwheat and smelled it before we started cooking and remarked on its nutty, peanut-buttery fragrance. We mentioned that the technique of boiling water, then adding grains, bringing the mixture to a boil, then simmering in a covered pot for 15-20 minutes can also be used to cook oatmeal, rice, lentils, and couscous, for example.

This week’s class required some patience as the kasha cooked so we were able to play a rousing game of Lotería (from Mexico, not Russia) while enjoying the finished porridge with berries, date syrup, cinnamon, milk, and butter.

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3rd Grade Social Studies: Week 4

We started off this week’s class hearing from students who have visited Puerto Rico and/or have Puerto Rican heritage. On Thursday, Miss Lizzie then talked about sofrito, which forms the base of many a Latin American dish, and pique, a traditional Puerto Rican hot sauce that features hot chili peppers and herbs steeped in vinegar. The pique Ms. Katie and I made in preparation for our lesson incorporated jalepeños, serranos, and the delightfully named “fireball” pepper.

Students chopped onions and peppers and pressed a lot of garlic to create the deep flavors of the sofrito. Then we ate rice cooked with sofrito with an optional dash of pique.

We made sure to make enough for students to take a small jar of sofrito home to their families. Please let us know how you used it - we love to hear from you. Miss Lizzie taught us how Puerto Ricans express themselves when they really like something: ¡Qué chévere! 

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Chefs in the City Week 5A: Bayview - Sweet Potato Waffles

We had such a lively week, we weren’t able to take too many photos of the kids, or the beautiful waffles they made, in action. We promise to do better! (You can catch a glimpse of the finished product in the last image.)

This week we talked about the Bayview-Hunters Point, the history of African-American migration to San Francisco from the South, and the dwindling African-American population in the city over the past 40 years. The breakfast we made, sweet potato waffles, is part of the painful history of our nation. The sweet potato is native to the Americas, but enslaved people from Africa were likely the drivers of culinary innovation with the ingredient, riffing off of traditional African cuisine. The waffle came from Dutch immigrants arriving in colonial America in the early 17th century.

The kitchen smelled like Thanksgiving due to the cinnamon and cloves in our batter. Right before cooking the waffles, students folded whipped egg whites (so stiff they didn’t fall out when the bowl was turned upside down!) into the batter to make the waffles extra fluffy. We ate the warm waffles with fresh Valencia oranges and maple syrup.

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3rd Grade Social Studies: Week 3

We will spend the next 10 weeks cooking foods that reflect the diverse ethnic heritage of our third graders and their families. Miss Grace and Miss Lizzie wanted to start with Latin America, so this week the students made pico de gallo, a fresh Mexican salsa, and their own tortillas. Someday we’ll get proper tortilla presses and maybe even the traditional Mexican comal in our kitchen, but we made do with what we have - our hands!

We introduced a new knife technique, mincing, and there are some great photos below of students’ focused, precise knife work. They should be very proud. We ate the warm tortillas with the salsa and queso fresco on top. ¡Qué rico!

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Chefs in the City Week 4A: Mission - Huevos Divorciados

Our neighborhood this week was the Mission, where some of our students live. We kicked off each class with agua de jamaica, which is tea made from the sepals of hibiscus flowers and a popular beverage in Mexican cuisine. It is naturally tart and wakes you up if you are feeling sleepy!

We discussed the diverse native and immigrant groups who have made the Mission their home, including the large number of Mexican immigrants that started arriving in the mid-20th century and who have made a profound impact on the neighborhood’s food culture.

Huevos divorciados (“divorced eggs”) has a humorous name that refers to two fried eggs on tortillas separated by their different salsas. We got the tortillas from La Palma Mexicatessen in the Mission, but students made everything else. The salsa roja featured tomatoes; the salsa verde featured tomatillos. Both salsas contained jalepeños, which was a new ingredient for us to be working with in the kitchen.

On Wednesday, we had some special guests from SFUSD’s Future Dining Experience team and the SFUSD Sustainability Office cook with us and share our breakfast. We hope to keep partnering with our friends at the District around healthy, beautiful, sustainable food in schools.

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Soup Squad Week 3A: Curried Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup

Our three weekly soup crews are settling into the groove of discovering what donated produce we’re getting from Bi-Rite Market every Monday and what new flavor profiles we can apply to all of our beautiful ingredients. This week’s soup featured Madras curry, fresh ginger, tomatoes at the height of the season, and coconut milk. We also worked with Brussels sprouts, red lentils, broccolini, and cilantro.

We are delighted to see our young chefs gaining confidence in their culinary skills and expanding their palates every week!

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3rd Grade Social Studies: Week 2

This week we made strawberry acorn pancakes, featuring flour ground by hand from local Bay Area acorns. Students watched a video before coming into the kitchen classroom about the traditional Ohlone preparation of acorn mush. The ground acorn meal is cooked in a handwoven basket with soapstone that retains heat so well it boils the mush without any direct heat under the basket.

None of us on The Breakfast Project staff has firsthand experience working with acorns or deep understanding of the native San Franciscan diet and food preparation. Rather, we worked together as a class to honor an ingredient few of us encounter in modern life and learned to prepare a simple, beloved breakfast from scratch using local ingredients. The result was a fun, nutritious mid-day snack (and we didn’t even miss the maple syrup).

For those of you who would like to make the recipe at home, you can easily substitute more buckwheat, all-purpose, or really any other kind of flour for the acorn!

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Chefs in the City Week 3A: Tenderloin - Bánh Mì

One of our rituals at The Breakfast Project is to start each class with an herbal tisane. This week our tea was made from lemongrass, an herb commonly used in Asian cooking. During our opening circle, we looked at our map of the city and discussed the funny, culinary arts-evoking name of the Tenderloin neighborhood and learned about the influx of Vietnamese refugees who landed in this area of San Francisco after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

The stretch of Larkin Street between Eddy and O’Farrell is now officially designated Little Saigon and is a great place to find the classic Vietnamese breakfast sandwich bánh mì. Students immediately asked why there were baguettes and mayonnaise involved, which led us to talk about the history of French Indochina and its lasting impact on Vietnamese cuisine.

We made our own mayonnaise starting with a simple egg yolk. We also had fun slicing carrots and watermelon radish into matchstick shapes for pickles. Each class made several containers of pickles for the next day’s class so that the vegetables had time overnight in the fridge to absorb the flavors of the pickling medium. We topped our sandwiches with fresh cucumber and plenty of cilantro, and had a few leftover each day for some special deliveries to our beloved HMCRA staff!

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Chefs in the City Week 2A: Chinatown - Red Bean Buns

We had fun with yeast dough this week! Students got to make their own red bean buns as we discussed the oldest Chinatown in North America right here in San Francisco, Chinese immigration to California during the Gold Rush, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (and its relevance to current immigration issues), as well as the culinary wonders of dim sum.

We rolled the proofed dough into balls, patted the balls out into flat disks, filled them with a sweet paste made from adzuki beans, pinched the dough around the paste to make what looked like dumplings, flipped the buns over, and steamed them in multi-tiered bamboo steamers.

We ate the buns warm with a traditional Chinese smashed cucumber salad and drank jasmine or (decaf!) black tea. Then we learned how to say dou sha bao (red bean buns) in Mandarin (even though in San Francisco, Cantonese is more common!).

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3rd Grade Social Studies: Week 1

For the next 12 weeks, Harvey Milk third graders will be coming to the school kitchen for a weekly 75-minute lesson integrated into their social studies curriculum, which focuses on their home city of San Francisco.

We start with the native Ohlone people, who were hunters and gatherers, and made a salad this week featuring sorrel and purslane (greens students could forage in modern-day San Francisco), roots and seeds, and edible marigolds and blue cornflower (also known as Bachelor’s Button).

We made a simple salad dressing starting with pounding garlic into a paste in a mortar and pestle and discussed how to emulsify vinegar, lemon juice, and oil by whisking vigorously and adding the oil one drop at a time. Many of the students asked for seconds (and thirds!). My favorite quote of the week: “Why is this salad so good?!”

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Soup Squad Week 1A: Tortilla Soup

Ms. Katie and I are so thrilled to be serving students in the YMCA After School Program for the first time this fall! We have partnered with our friends at Bi-Rite Market to turn culled produce into a nutritious, delicious soup three afternoons a week. 

Students had a lot of fun working with a variety of tools to finish the enormous amounts of chopping required to make a recipe that serves eight people. Another job that was popular was picking cilantro leaves for garnish.

We went over the building blocks of soup, which we will revisit each week as we play with different flavor profiles and seasonal ingredients.

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Chefs in the City Week 1A: Ohlone People - Strawberry Acorn Pancakes

And we're back! Our morning program this fall is a culinary tour through the history of our beautiful city, San Francisco. For our first class, we paid tribute to the native peoples of San Francisco, the Ohlone. Students discussed what kinds of foods the Ohlone hunted and gathered. Certainly our recipe is not an authentic meal the Ohlone would have shared, but our pancakes this week incorporated flours made from acorns (a staple of the Ohlone diet) and buckwheat (a fruit different from California's native wild buckwheat, but nevertheless delicious), as well as chia seeds and strawberries, varieties of which the Ohlone would have foraged. 

We have some new paring knives in the kitchen and early reviews by our student chefs were positive! Welcome to our new culinary arts educator, Ms. Katie, and thanks to our special staff guests this week: Breakfast Project veteran Ms. Grace, Ms. Kirman, and Mr. Swick.

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Breakfast Around the World Week 12: Germany

 

Our inaugural 12-week session came to a close with a celebratory lesson making Berliner, a jam-filled doughnut from Germany. The students' enthusiasm was palpable as we practiced how to work safely around hot oil, watched the flat disks of dough puff up once fried, rolled the doughnuts in sugar, and filled them with raspberry jam. We made so many there were plenty to share with friends and staff members before the start of school. 

Thank you to all of our supporters who made Breakfast Around the World a huge success. We will be working hard to expand our programming for the '18-'19 school year and can't wait to keep building on what we started together. Have a fabulous summer and see you next year!

 Like the Belgian waffles, the yeast dough was made the night before and given time to rise.

Like the Belgian waffles, the yeast dough was made the night before and given time to rise.

 We used a 3-inch ring cutter to make the basic doughnut shape.

We used a 3-inch ring cutter to make the basic doughnut shape.

 We fried the doughnuts in avocado oil.

We fried the doughnuts in avocado oil.

 The kids got really good at flipping the doughnuts with a slotted spoon once they were browned on one side.

The kids got really good at flipping the doughnuts with a slotted spoon once they were browned on one side.

 Raspberry jam with seeds is delicious, but prone to clogging the squeeze bottles!

Raspberry jam with seeds is delicious, but prone to clogging the squeeze bottles!

 Some kids decided to go right for the center instead of squeezing through the side.

Some kids decided to go right for the center instead of squeezing through the side.

 I didn't ask him to smile :)

I didn't ask him to smile :)

 A finishing flourish!

A finishing flourish!

 These doughnuts looked pretty professional when finished.

These doughnuts looked pretty professional when finished.

 One thing we learned over the course of 12 weeks is the importance of good personal hygiene in the kitchen, which includes tying back your long hair.

One thing we learned over the course of 12 weeks is the importance of good personal hygiene in the kitchen, which includes tying back your long hair.

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Breakfast Around the World Week 11: Tunisia

One of the challenges I commonly hear from parents is how hard it is to get kids to try new foods. We're certainly not immune from this challenge at The Breakfast Project, but we were excited this week when so many students who initially said they did not like spices tasted the shakshuka we made and asked for seconds. I think couscous helps, as it's so fun to look at and to eat, and the natural sweetness that comes from caramelized peppers and onions doesn't hurt either! 

We talked about the African continent and how American culture tends to lump all these varied countries, each with their own cuisine, languages, and culture, into one singular idea. It was helpful to have the stark flavor contrast between the uji we made from Kenya (pale, creamy, and coconut-y) and the shakshuka from North Africa (bright, deep, and spicy) to aid our discussion. I always wish there was more time to go deeper into bridging food and larger questions the kids have about the world and welcome your ideas on how we can do that better next year.

 At our opening circle, we all got to (cautiously) smell the cumin, paprika, and cayenne. 

At our opening circle, we all got to (cautiously) smell the cumin, paprika, and cayenne. 

 Using the garlic peeler requires a significant amount of force for a kid!

Using the garlic peeler requires a significant amount of force for a kid!

 The final step of using the garlic press elicited some shouts of "Oh, cool!"

The final step of using the garlic press elicited some shouts of "Oh, cool!"

 We saved all the juices from the tomatoes we diced to add to the stew.

We saved all the juices from the tomatoes we diced to add to the stew.

 I got this used Kaiser branded cutting board at Goodwill and it's now a highly-coveted item in our kitchen!

I got this used Kaiser branded cutting board at Goodwill and it's now a highly-coveted item in our kitchen!

 Cooking the onions and pepper at low heat for a long time helped to develop the robust flavors of the dish.

Cooking the onions and pepper at low heat for a long time helped to develop the robust flavors of the dish.

 This student got a stool and practiced patience and care as the  shakshuka  cooked.

This student got a stool and practiced patience and care as the shakshuka cooked.

 Each egg was cracked by a student. Only two all week didn't make it into the pan ;)

Each egg was cracked by a student. Only two all week didn't make it into the pan ;)

 The finished meal, served with couscous and dots of Tunisian harissa paste.

The finished meal, served with couscous and dots of Tunisian harissa paste.

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Inaugural Family Gratitude Breakfast

Learning to cook is about health and empowerment and nourishing our bodies, but it's also about service to others, especially our loved ones. It was amazing to honor that this week as we hosted our first ever Family Gratitude Breakfast to showcase our culinary skills and bring student chefs and their families together for a meal.

On Thursday afternoon, we welcomed the mobile product team from Salesforce into the kitchen classroom to help us prepare for the big event. The kids really enjoyed making (tall) new friends and showing them the ropes as we sliced strawberries and stone fruit and peeled mandarins for a fruit salad.

 Before cooking together, we went around the circle and shared our name, something we are grateful for, and something we like about being a student at Harvey Milk or working at Salesforce.

Before cooking together, we went around the circle and shared our name, something we are grateful for, and something we like about being a student at Harvey Milk or working at Salesforce.

 We are so grateful for our friends at Bi-Rite Market and the first peaches of the season! 

We are so grateful for our friends at Bi-Rite Market and the first peaches of the season! 

Each adult chef then led a team of students in making a batch of our now-famous multigrain overnight waffles from Belgium. The Salesforce team set the tables in the cafeteria and stayed to wash all the dirty dishes. I must give a special shoutout to my friend Sheena Lee for reaching out with an offer to volunteer before The Breakfast Project was even officially up and running. It is wonderful to now call her and her coworkers a part of our Harvey Milk family. Thank you so much to everyone for their hard work and generosity!

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 Our friends from Salesforce were each quite certain that their particular overnight waffle batter was the best. Notice the name tag.

Our friends from Salesforce were each quite certain that their particular overnight waffle batter was the best. Notice the name tag.

Friday morning we were back in the kitchen earlier than usual making sure we were ready for our special guests, who started to arrive at 8:00 a.m. I loved how on it all the kids were, washing their hands and grabbing aprons without being prompted, and how selflessly they served others food before serving themselves. We were joined by The Breakfast Project board member Arden Bucklin-Sporer, who cranked out waffles (and wisecracks) like a pro. We welcomed many familiar faces and got to make many new friends.

An hour later, when it was over, we barely had any food left, though one lucky student got to lick the whipped cream bowl. Ms. Grace and I took a breath and couldn't stop smiling - it was such a lovely event. We can't wait to do it again next year!

 The finished fruit salad was beautiful to behold, with lemon balm from the HMCRA garden.

The finished fruit salad was beautiful to behold, with lemon balm from the HMCRA garden.

 Front of the house!

Front of the house!

 Waffle making is serious business.

Waffle making is serious business.

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 One of our core values at The Breakfast Project: Food is community. Breaking bread with our neighbors strengthens bonds within our school and becomes a force for good in the wider world.

One of our core values at The Breakfast Project: Food is community. Breaking bread with our neighbors strengthens bonds within our school and becomes a force for good in the wider world.

Breakfast Around the World Week 10: India

This was our first week making a beverage, which was a lot of fun, especially because masala chai (literally "spiced tea") involves so many fragrant and interestingly shaped ingredients. We don't yet have a class set of mortars and pestles, so we improvised and placed our spices in paper bags and whacked them with rolling pins until the cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, cardamom, and peppercorns burst open. Class was cacophonous, but satisfying!

Our recipe is more of a guide - as Ms. Grace and I worked with students throughout the week, we continued to tweak it, adding more orange peel and cloves until we found the perfect blend of sweet and spicy to our taste. I made traditional ghee (clarified butter) with the leftover student-made butter from our arepas lesson last week, which we brushed on plain and garlic naan to add a savory component to our meal. The kitchen was filled with staff guests this week - thank you to Ms. Reynolds, Ms. Kia, Coach Dulin, Ms. Francis, Mr. MacBurney, and Ms. Rachel for eating breakfast with us.

 We passed around each spice during our opening circle so we could experience the different aromas.

We passed around each spice during our opening circle so we could experience the different aromas.

 We learned the verb "to steep," which in this context meant we heated the crushed spices with water and then let the mixture sit to allow the liquid to absorb all the flavors.

We learned the verb "to steep," which in this context meant we heated the crushed spices with water and then let the mixture sit to allow the liquid to absorb all the flavors.

 The inside of a nutmeg is really cool!

The inside of a nutmeg is really cool!

 Crushing spices first thing in the morning is a great way to wake up.

Crushing spices first thing in the morning is a great way to wake up.

 Our finished  chai , plus naan waiting to be brushed with ghee.

Our finished chai, plus naan waiting to be brushed with ghee.

 Some of us held our pinkies up while we enjoyed our tea.

Some of us held our pinkies up while we enjoyed our tea.

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Breakfast Around the World Week 9: Venezuela

Making arepas, a versatile corn cake from South America, is a great activity to do with kids. The dough is simple, but sticky, which adds a little challenge, and everyone gets to form a cake by hand! Some of our youngest chefs really proved their skills this week, managing the frying and flipping of the arepas on their own. 

We welcomed second-grade teacher Ms. Butler and our social worker Ms. Natasha as our special guests and had a lot of leftovers that we got to send all over the school to show our appreciation for the amazing students and staff at Harvey Milk.

 We used a 1/4-cup measure so every student had a chance to practice accurately measuring out the maize meal. 

We used a 1/4-cup measure so every student had a chance to practice accurately measuring out the maize meal. 

 Next, we added in warm water and whisked away the lumps.

Next, we added in warm water and whisked away the lumps.

 After the dough rested, we used our hands to form the  arepas .

After the dough rested, we used our hands to form the arepas.

 We got really good at maximizing the pan space.

We got really good at maximizing the pan space.

 Totally self sufficient!

Totally self sufficient!

 Our accompaniments included handmade butter, black beans, garnet yams, avocado, and pickled onions.

Our accompaniments included handmade butter, black beans, garnet yams, avocado, and pickled onions.

 We brought back  Loteria  from the second week of class while we waited for the  arepas  to finish cooking.

We brought back Loteria from the second week of class while we waited for the arepas to finish cooking.

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Breakfast Around the World Week 8: Switzerland

One thing that stood out to both me and Ms. Grace this week was a moment in the middle of each class when all the students were in a state of flow, totally absorbed by the task at hand, and the jolly oom-pa-pa of traditional Swiss folk music filled the kitchen. Our student chefs are becoming such pros! I hope they are proud of themselves and are able to see their own progress.

A core value of The Breakfast Project is to exercise our right to eat healthfully. This week's recipe introduced many of the kids at HMCRA to a morning meal that is filled with nutritious goodies like quinoa, pumpkin seeds, and hemp hearts. We did not sweeten the muesli other than adding dried fruit to the cereal and fresh fruit on top.

The best quote of the week: "My favorite ingredient is the coconut, because it makes the muesli taste kind of tropical and I feel like I'm in Paradise."

 Our first job was to measure the dried apricots and dates, chop them finely, and to prepare what was the most popular topping: strawberries!

Our first job was to measure the dried apricots and dates, chop them finely, and to prepare what was the most popular topping: strawberries!

 Some students used knives on the dried fruit; others preferred scissors, pastry scrapers, or the wavy knife.

Some students used knives on the dried fruit; others preferred scissors, pastry scrapers, or the wavy knife.

 Everyone was working so peacefully, we were able to listen to some traditional Swiss music (with lots of accordion!) while we prepped.

Everyone was working so peacefully, we were able to listen to some traditional Swiss music (with lots of accordion!) while we prepped.

 There were 14 ingredients total in our muesli!

There were 14 ingredients total in our muesli!

 No matter what we are making, stirring is one of the most coveted jobs in class.

No matter what we are making, stirring is one of the most coveted jobs in class.

 Kids topped it all off with some seasonal fresh fruit as well as a squeeze of lemon and grated apple - two traditional Swiss accompaniments for muesli. 

Kids topped it all off with some seasonal fresh fruit as well as a squeeze of lemon and grated apple - two traditional Swiss accompaniments for muesli. 

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Breakfast Around the World Week 7: Poland

There have been repeated requests to bring back the green onion pancakes, so we thought we'd introduce a recipe that is conceptually similar, but represents a new part of the world: potato pancakes (placki ziemniaczane). During our opening circle, one student shared that potato pancakes are also a highlight of German cuisine, and others were familiar with latkes, which are potato pancakes traditionally eaten during Hannukah.

I've been getting a regular farm box from Eatwell Farm in Dixon, CA for more than 10 years and this week we included fresh goose eggs, a seasonal treat from Eatwell as one of the ingredients for students to work with! We scrambled a combination of goose and chicken eggs with some spring onion and sat down for a truly delicious meal of the pancakes topped with sour cream, the eggs, and rye bread from Anna's Daughters' Bakery while listening to the music of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin. We barely had enough food at the end of class to make plates for curious HMCRA staff members who followed their noses to the kitchen before Morning Circle!

 Everyone was naturally very excited about the goose eggs.

Everyone was naturally very excited about the goose eggs.

 This week's tisane was popular because we used fresh spearmint leaves.

This week's tisane was popular because we used fresh spearmint leaves.

 Ms. Grace demonstrated how to squeeze all the water out of the potatoes before adding other ingredients.

Ms. Grace demonstrated how to squeeze all the water out of the potatoes before adding other ingredients.

 We talked about how yolk color can tell you a lot about the chicken's diet.

We talked about how yolk color can tell you a lot about the chicken's diet.

 A pro pancake flipper!

A pro pancake flipper!

 It smelled divine.

It smelled divine.

 We garnished the pancakes with some flat-leaf parsley.

We garnished the pancakes with some flat-leaf parsley.

 The difference in size between the goose and chicken eggs was significant.

The difference in size between the goose and chicken eggs was significant.

 "These are the best scrambled eggs I have ever tasted!"

"These are the best scrambled eggs I have ever tasted!"

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