Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm Back! With Quite a Bit to Say

Well I could say that I have been out of contact due to work, but that wouldn't be exactly true. I could say that I haven't written anything because there is nothing to say, but that would be an out right lie. All I can say is that I had writers block and just became a bit gun shy. Well I am going to bite the proverbial bullet and go for it.

Well there is quite a bit to write about and one of my favorite events that has happened, since my last blog, was the student made marinara sauce. Each spring my classroom plants wheat that will be harvested by the next classroom the following year. The wheat is used to make bisquits for the rest of the school as part of a luncheon called farm to table. Well last spring I decided to add one more crop to our farm plot, tomatoes. Tomatoes are a great all around crop that you can make many different products from. One of those products is marinara sauce, which is a favorite of almost all kids.

Over the summer students took time out of their own summer to come out to the farm and help weed their wheat and tomato crops. Both were harvested within our second week of school (Side note my classroom were filmed on a WGN news story while they were harvesting the wheat). Unfortunately, many of our tomatoes were lost due to the blight. Luckily, what we were missing was made up by parents donating their own backyard tomatoes and from parents donating money so that we could buy more the following day at the farmer's market. I also bought many of the other ingredients at the Grayslake Farmer's Market from money that was donated by the students themselves.

The day after the market my classroom with several parent volunteers worked together to make marinara sauce. The students were immersed into the process with many of my brave boys running from the kitchen crying from the overpowering onions. Others learned how best to "gut" a tomato. Students worked hard in a hot kitchen peeling, gutting, dicing, mincing the tomatoes and the other ingredients. For lunch we all had pasta and sauce. That day the students learned that a sauce you make on your own with fresh ingredients will always be better than anything you can buy.

I believe that each student left that day full of pride and desire to make their own marinara at home.

The Recipe We Used:

24 pounds of Tomatoes
6 pounds of Onions
6 bulbs of Garlic
Salt and Red Pepper to taste
12 bunches of Basil
6 bunches of Oregano
4 bunches of Thyme
4 sprigs of Rosemary
and 10 leaves of Sage (my students chose this one because they liked the sound of it)
In a large pot Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are opaque
Add Tomatoes
Stir and mash tomatoes periodically as needed