Wednesday, March 25, 2009

kitchen science

My boy fancies himself a chef. Remember this delight? Last week, he started his favorite department at school, Kitchen Science. Departments are mixed grade groups who work together throughout the year on special applied learning projects. For the next six weeks, my boy will spend about six hours each week working in a home-style kitchen to focus on the science behind food, how substances interact with each other, and the importance of water, nutrition, and digestion.

On their first cooking day, guacamole was made, and my boy was impressed. He wanted to recreate the experience for our dining pleasure, and volunteered to demonstrate the recipe for your viewing pleasure.

To make guacamole, start by halving a ripe avocado.

Just slice into it with the knife until it hits the pit,

then roll the knife around the pit, preferably without slicing any of your fingers off

Then gently twist the two halves away from each other and pull apart

There is no photo of the fun pit pop, because the photographer would not let the chef do it himself. What you do is whack a big knife right into the seed so it will stick, and then rotate to release it from the lovely green flesh. Some people save the pit to throw back in with their completed guac, it is said to help retain its fresh green color. But my Mexican friends tell me that is an old wives’ tale, and I believe them. Even though they are old wives. My aunt Uffie used to let us pierce the pit with toothpics and hover it over a glass of water to encourage sprouts. That was cool, why did we never have an avocado tree? Oh yeah, Connecticut.

Scoop out the avocado guts with a spoon… you might want to save those empty, bereft shells. Keep plugging away, even when your photographer becomes distracted by her empty glass.

Mash the avocado, preferably with a giant fork (or a potato masher if you can find yours)

There, that’s better. Now, dice a tomato

Dump the tomato into the bowl, being sure to cross your arms into a very awkward and unlikely configuration, and use a really big sharp knife to entice the tomatoes off of the board

Don’t worry about letting young children use such big knives, they are usually more capable and competent than people assume.


Next, chop some red onion. I like to imagine that he is talking in a Julia Child voice, like Mike Meyer on SNL right before he lopped off his finger

Be brave if the onion fumes irritate your eyes

Don’t forget fresh garlic! Smash a clove with the side of your knife to free it from the peel, then dice that bad boy right up

If you don’t have fresh cilantro, thank your mom and Trader Joe for always having this in the freezer

Mix wildly! Then cover and refrigerate, a few hours goes a long way toward marrying the flavors.

My boy served his guac inside the little boats he had saved from the empty avocado shells!

I really need to find the dishtowel action on photoshop so I can wipe away the mess at each end of this lovely turkey enchilada. It looks like a severed limb.

Any questions?


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Jacqueline, this is just grand. I love your boy's expression throughout, and your refilled drinkie-poo, and all the glimpses of your kitchen: the photos on your fridge, the orange bowl, the blue plate. It makes me miss y'all. Especially since there's now another chef in the house. Can't wait to try out your boy's vittles.


Anonymous said...

Jaq, My boys enjoyed this while sitting at the kitchen counter sleepily eating their breakfast. This helped to wake them up and get their juices flowing. Plus they want to come visit their cool-looking second cousin when we got to San Diego next. Plus they still won't touch an avocado...someday soon I will convert them. I must.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Karen, as I recall, avocados were your dad's favorite food.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

You just had to go and make that severed limb remark, didn't you? It was all looking so divine until then.

We want to go to your boy's school!! Cool stuff. It's so nice to learn things you can actually apply to life, the very same night!


Kathi D said...

Awesomely awesome! To the max!

Anonymous said...

I love this blog, Jacquie, and your boy - I love his intensity. I miss him... Question Ellie, how in the world do you know that Karen's dad's favorite food was avocado?? mom

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Well, he told me. It must have been on one of my cross-country trips -- with Nancy, probably -- in 1986, and we were in Aunt Kitty's kitchen, and Uncle Bill P. said avocados were his favorite food. Who wouldn't remember that? ;)


martyjoco said...

I love the Kitchen Science department concept, too! Man, would I have ever loved that instead of boring textbook after boring textbook...

Speaking of food science, does your boy know about the asparagus/urine thing? Do you? Working for over 20 years with a bunch of oddball chemists and biologists, I picked up this tidbit: shortly after eating asparagus, SOME people have odd smelling urine - it's genetic, due to the presence of a certain enzyme. And on top of that - only SOME people can smell the smell! So only if you have both traits do you produce the smell and be able to smell the smell... I think this topic would be perfect for the 8 to 12 Kitchen Science crowd, don't you? Don't know how you could work it into a science fair, though...

Unknown said...

Martyjoco, are you KIDDING me??? Not every one gets asparagus pee, or can smell it?! We recently had asparagus on the grill, and my boy ate a ton of it, and I told him that he was in for a special treat when he went pee that night.... but he never smelled it. I can't beleive this is posssible. Now I am questioning everything !

I will pass this tidbit on to the kitchen science teacher. Today was another cooking day.. wonder what we'll be whipping up this weekend!

Karen Ketchup: my kids loved avocados as babies, rejected them as young'uns, and my girl still gags at the mere sight. My boy has become a much more adventurous eater, I'm hoping she'll grow back into one.

Mom: we miss you too, desperately!

Beth: I'm just telling it like it is.

Ellie: we miss you too, desperately!


Me, You, or Ellie said...

I cannot believe everyone's pee doesn't smell like a fishtank after eating asparagus. Or, actually, the way I interpret this is, everyone's pee does smell like a fish tank after eating apsaragus, only some people pretend their pee don't stank.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

That is incredible asparagus news -- really hard to believe! I've always felt bad about peeing in a public bathroom after eating asparagus, but will stop this very instant.

And Jacquie, your boy does not smell it??? How is that possible? I must cook asparagus and have my children test this out. My bet is that they both produce the fishtank scent and can smell it. But who the hell knows?!?


Kathi D said...

I remember reading somewhere a while back that not everyone gets asparagus pee and I was shocked! Shocked I tell you!

I can tell even if there was a tiny bit of asparagus hidden in a salad or soup at a restaurant, er, later on, whether I can taste it or not.