Scissor Salsa and lots of Kale Chips

Despite my incredible excitement about it, kohlrabi isn’t the only thing we’ve tasted from the gardens this fall.  I’ve done a few different food prep activities with a bunch of different classes of all ages.

Big, juicy tomato in the Withrow Garden

Scissor Salsa was a new activity for me this year, which proved to be popular.  It’s an activity I got the idea for from a wonderful book called How to Grow a School Garden.  We started the activity by picking tomatoes (sometimes it was quite a lot, and sometimes we just had a token amount from the garden), a jalapeno pepper or two, and some herbs (usually chives and basil).   I also supplemented the tomato harvest with tomatoes from farmers’ markets – that was also fun, because then we had a bunch of different varieties which often amused the kids.  The grade ones especially thought the different coloured, shaped and sized tomatoes were HILARIOUS!

Some Withrow Garden tomatoes

The next step was to wash our hands and the tomatoes, and then start chopping.  The beauty of this activity is that the kids use scissors instead of knives.  The teachers and I would usually cut the tomatoes into quarters or eighths, and then the kids could do the fine chopping with scissors.   And then we had a chance to enjoy the salsa with some nacho chips (I even found some tasty unsalted chips, which was great).  Yum!  I think all of the kids at least tasted it, and most of them thought it was super yummy!

Tomatoes in the Blake Garden

Red Russian kale, hiding among other greenery

Making Kale Chips wasn’t a new activity this season, but it’s one that I’ve done about a zillion times this fall – I definitely don’t need my lesson plan on me any more when I’m doing this one…  (Actually, I’ve done it so much that I’ve nearly reached my kale saturation point for a little while – it won’t last long, I’ll be back to eating kale soon, but having done this activity about 2-3 times each week since September has resulted in a bit of a kale overdose.)   Kale Chips has been my most popular activity this fall, with teachers hearing about it from other teachers and students and wanting in on the action!  It’s a nice simple one, which gets everyone involved and can be done with any grade.

A wee little curly kale plant

I would usually take half of the class outside to harvest a bit of kale (we didn’t have a great kale harvest this year, so it tended to just be a small amount, but at least they saw how kale grows), while half of the class would be in class with the teacher, washing their hands and the kale (and then we’d switch groups, of course).  We would then rip the kale into bite-sized pieces, add some olive oil, cider vinegar and a bit of salt (but really, there are tons of options for seasoning), mix it up, then spread a thin layer onto baking sheets.  I would then take the trays of kale to the oven, and roast them for about 15ish minutes at about 400 Fahrenheit.  Sometimes during this activity (depending on timing), I would also read Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, which is a great try-something-new book (but I’ve written about that before, so enough on that topic).  And then I’d take the kale chips back to the classes, where the kids would usually devour the whole bowl in minutes!  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a crew of kids can devour a huge bowl of kale!  Pretty awesome!  And whenever I was in the kitchen baking them and a teacher would walk by, they’d take a taste (and then walk by again, and taste another…)  It was actually a pretty cool feeling to do this activity with so many classes, because you’d hear kids and teachers alike chatting about kale chips, how they were going to make them at home, etc.  I’ve been sending the recipes to the teachers so that they can share them with their classes, and this one is one I’ve really heard lots of feedback about – lots of students have done this at home with their parents, and teachers have done it at home with their kids.  Pretty great!

Happy growing!
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