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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Inside Thomson Elementary part 2: Working in the kitchen

This spring, Gabby Ingersoll, a student at American University, is volunteering for DC SCORES by spending each Monday afternoon with the poet-athletes at Thomson Elementary School observing them as they go through the stages of their service-learning project.

Each week, Gabby will write about her first-hand experience with the Thomson students as they strive to make improvements to their school and greater community.

See pictures from Gabby’s trips to Thomson on Flickr.


Even before Chef Susan began last week’s demonstration at Thomson Elementary, a student interjected, “Did you wash your hands?!”

The third graders here are a step above the rest; they’re alert, awake and enthusiastic, as if they have just arrived at school to start their day. Today’s task to tackle: strawberry lemonade.

Much like the fourth and fifth graders from the prior week, the third graders on this day were first taught about knife safety and skills. They learned about three different knives: a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a tournade knife (titles I didn’t even know!). Once again, the classmates eagerly stood, single file, for their chance to use the knives. Congratulations and high fives were exchanged during this activity.

As the knife lesson wrapped up, Chef Susan began preparing the class for the strawberry lemonade making. She explained the use of a micro plane, a utensil similar to a cheese grater as Mequias pointed out.

As with the knife scenario, DC SCORES lined up once again to take turns grating the skin of the lemon for zest. The students discovered that the zest was, in fact, a key ingredient and even had more flavor than the actual juice! The white part of the lemon, known as the pit, is very bitter.

Chef Susan reiterated that you shouldn’t grate once you’ve “hit the pit.” Samuel added, “When it feels smooth, it’s done!” Once enough zest was collected, it was time to squeeze the lemons. A competition erupted as to who could squeeze the lemons the fastest.

The lemony aroma quickly engulfed the classroom air.

Once all of the lemons were squeezed dry for their juice, Coach Eric began working with a kid-friendly blender to dice the strawberries. Ava and some other students shouted out, “it looks like salsa!.” After that, the strawberries, lemon zest and lemon juice were all added together and mixed with some sugar as well as water.

The kids tried their concoction without seltzer water at first, then with seltzer water. When asked to compare, they voted for the original mix. I voted for the original mix as well while the other coaches and I joked about how these students are officially equipped with the experience to now open their own lemonade stands.

Let’s hope I see some this summer!

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