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Rock and Rollers: Session C

Our final session of Rock and Rollers after school was such a blast. The students made six rolled foods (burritos, kati rolls, dolmas, summer rolls, lumpia, and temaki) and listened to rock musicians from around the world over the course of six weeks. We explored various flavor profiles and also noticed that food cultures from around the world have as much in common as they are different from each other.

Special thanks to Ms. Alyssa and Mr. Anthony from the Mission YMCA for their support and to all of our fifth graders for having changed our community for the better!

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Grade 1 Edible Social Studies: Week 3

For our final class exploring the question “Where does our food come from?” we discussed terms like “local” and “organic” and what labels on eggs can tell us about how the chickens are raised. We watched two videos from The Lexicon of Sustainability: Local vs. Organic and The Story of an Egg.

The local, organic asparagus we used in our salad came from Coastal View Produce in the Salinas Valley. The eggs came from our own school chickens (which we decided to label “garden raised”) and from St. John Family Farm in Corning, California. Students blanched the asparagus and then cut it into bite-sized pieces. They hard boiled the eggs (a great life skill!), then chopped them up and made a simple salad dressing. After adding a few fresh herbs, our salad was ready to eat.

The most rewarding thing about our work is probably when students start out by saying they really don’t like an ingredient (in this case, asparagus), decide to try it after making food together with their peers, and then tell us they love it and ask for seconds!

Thursday was Ms. Katie’s last class teaching with The Breakfast Project and Ms. Webb’s class surrounded her for a spontaneous group hug before leaving the kitchen. Thank you, Ms. Katie, for bringing so much positive energy and dedication to the students of Harvey Milk this year. We will miss you dearly.

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Grade 1 Edible Social Studies: Week 2

To further explore the question “Where does our food come from?,” we discussed the role farmworkers play in our food system. We read the book Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez and watched a video about Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport, which is about 65 miles from our school. Swanton Berry is known not only for its delicious, organic strawberries, but also for its union labor. We learned that 52% of the cost of Swanton berries goes to paying workers a living wage and providing them with benefits.

In the kitchen, the students got to work prepping the strawberries, a few bananas, and pitting dates. In the blender, we added leafy greens, chia seeds, yogurt, soy milk, and apple mint (an herb that has a lovely fragrance of apple or pineapple). Each chef got a chance to push the blender button and watch the machines turn all the ingredients into a beautiful pink smoothie. Before we enjoyed the smoothie, we raised a glass to the legacy of Cesar Chavez and to all the people whose labor allows us to put healthy, sustainable food on the table.

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Breakfast Around the World Week 18: Spain

We’ve had quite a journey these past 18 weeks with our Breakfast Around the World chefs. The grand finale came from Spain. The students made their own chocolate caliente, a thicker, less sweet version of hot chocolate than many are used to, and the classic European pastry dough pâte à choux. They filled pastry bags with the dough, then piped churros into hot oil, working in teams with one chef squeezing the dough out and the other cutting each churro from the bag with a knife.

The churros were rolled in sugar before we ate them dipped in the chocolate. It felt like a proper sendoff for our fifth graders and other students who won’t be returning to Harvey Milk next year. We have loved working with you all and will miss you terribly! Don’t forget to come back and visit. To our returning students and families, we look forward to more culinary adventures next year. Thank you for making the sustained commitment to be a part of this program. Chao for now!

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Grade 1 Edible Social Studies: Week 1

To help us answer the question “Where does our food come from?” with the first graders, this week we highlighted local food producer Full Belly Farm, which is located about 100 miles from Harvey Milk. The students took a virtual field trip to Fully Belly and then made spiced carrot and spinach latkes featuring produce from the farm.

The students really enjoyed grating carrots, ripping and washing spinach, squeezing water out of the vegetables, and making the latke batter with eggs from our school’s own chickens, flour, and spices like nigella seeds and za’atar. We were amazed by how focused and competent these young chefs were in there very first class! Can’t wait to cook with them again next week.

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Breakfast Around the World Week 17: India

The students made their own masala dosa this week with a spiced potato filling. They worked with black mustard, dried chili peppers, cumin seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, fresh ginger, and asafetida (a resinous gum exuded by a root that’s commonly used in Indian cooking). While the potatoes were cooking, we threw in some freeze-dried peas we had leftover in the pantry from the second-grade Edible Social Studies class on food preservation earlier this year. It was thrilling to watch the kids work in teams to taste the filling and decisively add more salt and spices until the flavor was just right. (The filling is definitely delicious enough to eat just on its own!)

Making the dosas involved brushing a thin film of oil onto a cast-iron skillet, then pouring a small amount of the batter into the center of the pan and spreading it into a round shape. When the dosas were done, the bottoms were beautifully browned. The meal was so enjoyable we had some repeat chefs AND a repeat special guest, Ms. Butler, this week. Thanks also to Mr. Machado and Ms. Lizzie for taking time out of their busy schedules to join us for breakfast.

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Kindergarten Edible Social Studies: Week 3

Our last kindergarten culinary arts class for the year focused on eating for a healthy planet. We started by asking what students already know about climate change (answer = a lot!). We had a robust conversation about how in some places the weather has actually gotten colder, how we are experiencing more extreme weather conditions, and how the science points to human activity as the cause. We watched a video from Climate Lab that highlighted how much our food choices impact carbon emissions and learned about the carbon footprint of a giant steak versus a bowl of lentils.

We introduced our main ingredient, fava beans, which are a beautiful green superfood and an excellent source of protein. Protein helps our bodies build and repair tissues and muscles; helps us maintain a strong immune system; helps us stay full; and is an important building block for bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. Our fava beans were also grown locally at the height of their season. By using them in our class this week, Harvey Milk helps support a greener and more sustainable food system.

First we blanched shelled fava beans in boiling salted water. Then we shocked them in an ice bath, then peeled them one last time before placing them in a food processor with lemon juice, tahini, garlic, dill, salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil to make a vibrant spring hummus. We ate the fava bean hummus slathered on Tartine country bread, which was produced less than a mile away from our school. All the kids were super engaged and had a lot of fun taking turns pushing the on and off buttons of the food processor. Fava beans are a fussy vegetable to work with, but there’s nothing like a table full of friends to make the work pass quickly and the delicious end result was truly worth the effort. We can’t wait to see you chefs next year!

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Breakfast Around the World Week 16: Poland

When we got the June oven donations, one of the first baked breakfasts we wanted to make with the students was bagels. This week’s class did not disappoint! We worked with a recipe for Montreal-style bagels from the New York Times that fit nicely into a 60-minute class period. We made the dough ahead in a standing mixer, then let it rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, the kids shaped their own bagels, then boiled them in a honey water bath, then sprinkled them with sesame seeds before baking them in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.

Montreal bagels are a great way to highlight how food traditions move around the world and change over time. The bagel as a concept originated with Jews in Poland, but two of the most well-known styles in North America today come from New York and Montreal.

We made our own green onion cream cheese by mixing together cream cheese, green onions, and heavy cream. We also had sliced red onion, fresh dill, and capers (which were very controversial - students either loved capers or despised them; there was no in-between feeling). Next year, I’m thinking we could expand this class to introduce more variety, like salt bagels, cinnamon raisin, everything, onion, etc.

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Brunch Around the World Spring 2019 Benefit

The Breakfast Project threw its first party this past Saturday to celebrate our first full school year of programs, our awesome graduating fifth graders, and to raise $2,500 (a goal that we exceeded thanks to the generous support of our Harvey Milk and greater San Francisco community)!

The menu featured rainbow chard frittata with romesco and a pea shoot and radish salad; latkes with Pink Lady, Gala, and Granny Smith applesauce and Bellwether Farms yogurt; Eatwell Farm strawberries; cold brew from Linea Caffe; Peruvian chicha morada made by Harvey Milk parent Janette Fernandez and a team of student chefs; peppermint tea; and an array of beautiful pastries from Neighbor Bakehouse, Marla Bakery, Noe Valley Bakery, and Sunnyside Biscuits served with butter and Finnish blueberry kiisseli from our Breakfast Around the World repertoire.

Lorraine Walker of Eatwell Farm, their CSA member Ted, and an intrepid team of Harvey Milk students, staff, and parents helped set up and serve food at the event. We couldn’t have done this without the hard work and dedication of our superstar BAYAC AmeriCorps member Katie Storch and Principal Ron Machado. Thank you, Katie and Ron, for everything you do every day and to all the volunteers, donors, sponsors, and families who showed up in support of our work. It means so much and encourages us to keep going.

We were so excited to send everyone off with our own branded youth aprons and Baggu reusable shopping bags! Look for them on the streets of San Francisco. They’ll be hard to miss!

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Kindergarten Edible Social Studies: Week 2

Our healthy eating tip this week was “Eat superfoods!” We talked with the kindergarteners about how foods like kale, salmon, and blueberries are fairly low in calories but dense with nutrients. Many superfoods are also rainbow foods! Another good clue to help us determine if a food is a superfood is if people have been eating it for a long time.

We watched a video about the history of a familiar superfood, yogurt, and learned to look for the phrase “live active cultures” on yogurt packaging to get the full health benefits. We also read The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola, which talks about the history of popcorn. Then we headed to the kitchen to make two superfood snacks.

It’s strawberry season, so we made a simple strawberry compote with strawberries, mandarin zest and juice, and a little maple syrup. While that cooled, we got to work on making fresh butter and fresh popcorn. The butter we made by shaking a jar of heavy cream until it separated. We started the popcorn with avocado oil in a big pot and then listened intently as the kernels started to rapidly knock against the pot. It’s quite difficult to hear when popcorn is done popping in a noisy kitchen full of eager, high-volume young chefs, but we managed to cook it perfectly.

We spooned the compote over plain Straus whole milk yogurt and set up our popcorn toppings bar, which included salt, fresh melted butter, nutritional yeast, za’atar, umami salt, gomasio, paprika, and cumin. Our closing circle question invited the chefs to share their favorite topping. (Mine was all of them mixed together.) The goal of the class was to show the kindergarteners how easy and fun it is to make your own snacks. When we cook for ourselves, we tend to use healthy, whole ingredients and fewer ingredients than many store-bought foods contain. And, even better, homemade snacks like the ones we made are affordable, too!

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Breakfast Around the World Week 15: France

We celebrated some of our favorite springtime ingredients this week - spring onion, green garlic, asparagus, spinach, lemon thyme - with a classic French quiche. Due to the time it requires to make and bake the tart crust, students prepared the vegetables, eggs, and cheese in class but filled a crust made by other students the day before. They also ate quiche made by the class from the day before, which is a practice we recommend even when there aren’t any time constraints because the flavors really have a chance to develop overnight. Thursday’s class baked two quiche that will be served to Harvey Milk staff as part of Staff Appreciation Week!

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Kindergarten Edible Social Studies: Week 1

The kindergarteners are such a delight to have in the kitchen! For our first class together, we discussed why it's important to eat a range of colorful fruits and vegetables because each color represents different phytonutrients that help keep our bodies healthy. We made a rainbow fruit salad with strawberries, Gold Nugget mandarins, bananas, kiwis, blueberries, and purple yam (technically a root vegetable, but so beautiful to behold we had to throw it in there).

Tools like the crinkle cutters and nylon knives helped our young chefs gain confidence working with all the ingredients. We really appreciated their incredibly attentive listening and willingness to try new things.

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Breakfast Around the World Week 14: Panama

We returned to Central America this week with a fantastic breakfast of fried plantains from Panama, where they are called patacones. (A similar dish is called many other names, including tostones, in other Latin American and Caribbean countries.)

First, students peeled the plantains and sliced them. Then, they fried the slices for a few minutes until they were golden brown. Then, they smashed the plantains with the flat bottom of a bowl to form a pancake shape. Then, they fried the plantains again until the patacones were crispy. All it took was a final sprinkling of salt, a squeeze of lime, and a mango-pineapple-coconut-strawberry licuado to transport us to a tropical locale.

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Rock and Rollers: Week 6B

We’ve already posted about the temaki lesson from the last session of Rock and Rollers with grades K-2 this semester, but these photos from our last class with grades 3-5 were too sweet not to post here!

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4th/5th Grade Edible Social Studies: Week 3

The finale of our three-week unit on Native American food cultures featured wild rice harvested by hand by the Red Lake Nation, a band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota. We started the class by watching two videos: Food That Grows on Water and White Earth Wild Rice Harvest. The students were impressed at how the Chippewa pole their way through the rice in canoes and how they harvest the wild rice (which are actually grass seeds) with the help of two sticks.

We made a simple pancake batter and incorporated cooked wild rice as well as another ingredient from the Chippewa diet, cranberries. Room 202 made small pancakes and Room 201 made giant ones. All were topped with pure maple syrup, a food Native Americans produced long before Europeans arrived on the continent. We closed the class by going around the circle and sharing a highlight of our time together. We feel so grateful to have shared these brief but meaningful culinary adventures with our graduating fifth graders and look forward to more time in the kitchen classroom next year with the fourth graders!

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Breakfast Around the World Week 13: United States

Our students have always asked when we would make a breakfast from the United States, so this week we celebrated one of our country’s indigenous breakfast foods, grits. Grits come from the Native American Muskogee tribe, the people who first ground corn in a stone mill, giving the dish its signature coarse, gritty texture. We compared grits to the oat porridge we cooked from Finland and the rice porridge we cooked from China - all of these food traditions revolve around a thick mixture of cooked grains or seeds served with delicious toppings.

We worked with proper South Carolina stone-ground grits, both yellow and white, cooking them with whole milk and vegetable stock to form a savory base for our meal. Then we shook our own butter, sautéed the first asparagus of the season with garlic, grated cheddar cheese, snipped green onions, diced peppers, cut lemons, and minced parsley. We didn’t even miss the shrimp, and it was fun to hear a couple of kids remark that they would try and eat grits every morning from now on.

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4th/5th Grade Edible Social Studies: Week 2

This week, the fourth and fifth graders prepared Three Sisters Stew from the Chickasaw Nation, which today is located in Oklahoma. The Three Sisters refers to the Native American tradition of planting corn, beans, and squash together. The corn provides a structure for the pole beans to climb, the beans provide nitrogen to the other plants, and the squash plant’s low, broad leaves prevent the growth of weeds, provide moisture retention for the soil, and its prickly vines ward off pests. Whereas last week’s class focused on the diet of the Ohlone, who were predominantly hunter gatherers, this week we talked about largely agrarian societies like the Chickasaw. Several Native American tribes developed the Three Sisters method of companion planting over thousands of years.

Students started by sautéing onions with freshly minced garlic. They added cut-up summer and winter squash, red potatoes, and pre-cooked Cannellini beans and barley. Our homemade vegetable stock contained beet greens, which gave the stew a beautiful deep red color. While the vegetables were cooking in the stock, we set the table, then garnished the finished stew with fresh herbs from the Harvey Milk school garden. What we love most about the fourth and fifth grade classes is how focused they are on the many kitchen jobs we have and how strong the curricular connections are between what they have studied in the past and what they’re experiencing with all their senses in the kitchen classroom.

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Breakfast Around the World Week 12: Tunisia

This week we made shakshouka, a North African breakfast of eggs cooked atop stewed tomatoes and peppers that was a favorite last year when we first taught Breakfast Around the World. We served ours over the national dish of Tunisia, couscous. On Thursday, we had a special visit from Harvey Milk parent Yafah and first grader Lilah, whose family has roots in Morocco. They told us they add jalepeño and lamb sausage to their shakshouka and eat it with French baguette instead of couscous.

Students built the stew by sauteing onions and garlic, adding the tomatoes and peppers, and deepening the flavors with cumin, sweet paprika, and a bit of cayenne for a kick. The final additions were the eggs on top, which our young chefs cracked with confidence. We covered the pan, allowing the yolks to just set, then served the shakshouka over a bed of couscous with the traditional Tunisian pepper paste harissa on the side.

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Rock and Rollers: Week 4B

We made fresh summer rolls (gỏi cuốn in Vietnamese) this week that feature edible rice paper for the wrapper. Students prepared lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, mint, basil, cilantro, tofu, and calendula petals for the filling, then dipped the wrappers in water to rehydrate them before rolling. We had some rice noodles tossed in sesame oil as a base, and each of us was able to roll and eat three to four rolls! Some were skeptical of the traditional nước mắm dipping sauce until they tasted it. Then they couldn’t get enough of the salty, sweet, acidic condiment.

Technical difficulties prevented us from listening to Vietnamese rock band Bức Tường, but luckily our chefs happen to be excellent conversationalists. After school is one of our favorite times with the kids because they are so witty, relaxed, and enthusiastic about the work.

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4th/5th Grade Edible Social Studies: Week 1

We had a wonderful start to our fourth-and-fifth-grade unit on Native American food traditions and food culture this week. We started in the classroom where students shared what they knew and questions they had about the Ohlone, the native peoples of the San Francisco Bay Area. What did they eat? What did their languages sound like? How many tribes were there? We then watched a video about two Ohlone chefs who are keeping indigenous food traditions alive at their cafe in Berkeley. (We are working with their organization to arrange a visit to Harvey Milk later this spring!) One takeaway that many of us found powerful about the video is that the Ohlone are still here, still gathering together, still a part of our modern-day local community.

In the kitchen, students brewed a tea made with rose hips, yerba buena, white sage, bay laurel, and local blackberry honey. They washed dandelion, sorrel, and watercress, and made a salad with ingredients Ohlone people would have foraged: quail eggs, edible flowers, edible roots, and seeds. Using a mortar and pestle, we made a simple dressing of sorrel, onion, honey, and oil. At our closing circle, students shared that the salad and tea both reminded them of the foods we still eat today and struck them as different from our modern-day diet. One chef remarked that the Ohlone ate “delicious nature food.”

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