This week I have been teaching a cooking camp to middle schoolers at the school where I work (we’re on spring break.) On Monday, I went in all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and by the end of the day, I was plum tuckered out. This is the part of the story where I give mad respect to teachers – for your patience, your time spent lesson planning, and your energy that gets you through teaching all day – I salute you! I don’t know how you do it full time!
It’s been a learning experience for sure, but an enjoyable one. I have learned that I am very controlling when it comes to the kitchen. (Ha! Is anyone surprised? I can picture my sister, Chelsea, reading this and yelling: “NOT SURPRISED! YOU NEVER LET ME IN THE KITCHEN!” Sorry, Chels). These kids want to touch everything and stir everything and measure everything and stick their fingers in every gooey, sticky, sugary, little dollop of food, and I want to say Did you wash your hands before you stuck them in there?! But I am learning to let go. I am learning to let them do the mixing and stirring and chopping, even if it doesn’t come out perfectly.
Nonetheless, we have had many successes in the kitchen this week and I am so very pleased with my little chefs. They have a lot of crazy energy (why did I think of middle schoolers as mature before this camp??), but they are passionate and good kids and I enjoy teaching them the wonders of the kitchen.
So far this week we have made:
Homemade pizza (dough and all!)
Crème brulee (well, we brulee-d one before the torch died on me)
Chicken Pot pie (no canned soups involved)
Tres Leches Cake
Chips & Salsa
Tomorrow we’re making some good old all-American food – homemade ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, chicken tenders, and oven baked fries.
If you’re looking for something to make for a snack or to make with some goofy kids, I’d highly recommend making some Homemade Pop Tarts. Though when you make them remember to let go a little – don’t worry if they are square and neat. Let the spirit move you to create whatever weird shapes the rolling pin rolls and I promise you that it will taste just as good. In fact if you throw the word rustic in front of anything, it can be as misshapen as you want! So here you go – a recipe for “rustic” Pop Tarts.
Homemade “Rustic” Pop Tarts
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
2+1/2 ounces shortening, approx. 6 T.
3/4 cup milk
1 egg mixed with 1 to 2 tsp. water (egg wash)
Filling such as jam or cinnamon apples (see recipes below)
In a bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the shortening and knead it into the flour with your hands until it is crumbly. Add milk all at once and mix with a spatula until it comes together.
Lightly flour your hands and the countertop and turn the dough out onto the countertop. Knead the dough ball about 10 – 20 times.
Roll the dough out to less than 1/8 inch thick and cut into 4 inch by 5 inch rectangles.
Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of your choice of filling onto the center of one piece of dough. Brush the edges with egg wash and top with the second piece of dough.
Seal edges by pressing with the tines of a fork. Gently press down to flatten and evenly distribute the filling and cut slits in the top of the pie.
Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F. Remove from oven and cool completely.
The pies will not brown until toasted.
Apple Cinnamon Filling
3 large apples, peeled and diced
3 tsp. lemon juice
2 T. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 T. water
Peel and dice apples. In a small saucepan on the stove cook apples with lemon juice, sugar, and cinnamon, stirring every now and then. Cook on low until apples are soft, but still holding their shape, about 10 minutes. If the apples are not very juicy, add the water. Otherwise omit. Use to fill your favorite pie crust or just eat by itself!