This summer the Free Library of Philadelphia is hosting four groups of Philadelphia students learning the basics of cooking and nutrition in its brand new Culinary Literacy Center. The Summer Thyme Cooks program is a series of cooking classes run by the Vetri Foundation that aims to teach students about cooking with affordable, nutritious, seasonal ingredients. The program, for students ages 10 and up, began on June 19th and runs until August 7th.
Fresh, healthy, and budget-conscious ingredients are the focus of the classes. The students learn, cook, and eat a delicious recipe (or two!) each class and are sent home with a grocery bag of ingredients to make the recipe at home for their families. Alex McNeil from the Vetri Foundation takes the budding epicureans through all of the necessary skills and steps for each dish.
Turkey lettuce wraps, pasta with zucchini and tuna, corn and edamame salad, and roasted pepper and corn soup are just a few of the delectable dishes on the menu this summer at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
At the heart of Culinary Literacy is the idea that learning how to follow the steps in a recipe involves critical reading, mathematics, culture, and science. When children and teens learn how to multiply ingredients, use fractions of units to measure foods, and calculate amounts from nutrition labels it engages the mathematical mind. Many of the ingredients used and found in the recipes used come from all over the world and often have cultural significance beyond their use as foods. When a child learns that al dente comes from the Italian word for tooth and the sensation that is felt when pasta is bitten, a world beyond the plate opens up to them. Science shows up in the botanical classifications of fruits and vegetables as well as the chemical reactions that occur when foods are cooked. Culinary literacy can touch upon myriad aspects of life and learning.
The small groups of students participating in the program, five in each class, give it an intimate feel that allows students to engage with their instructors and each other. Because it is a series of classes, the skills that are learned carry forward into each subsequent class and knowledge builds upon itself. The students come from all over the city and a variety of different schools. They are already cooking up friendships as well as delicious cuisine.
Give this delicious recipe from the Summer Thyme Cooks class a try for dinner tonight!
Corn and Pepper Soup
· 6 ears of corn, corn removed from cobs, divided
· 3 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
· 3 tablespoons butter
· 2 red bell pepper, chopped
· 1 (5- to 6-ounce) Yukon Gold potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
· 3 large shallots, chopped
· 2 tablespoons whipping cream
· Chopped green onions
Blend 2 ½ cups corn and 1 ½ cup broth in blender, food processor or with an immersion blender until almost smooth.
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add peppers, potato and shallots; sauté 5 minutes.
Add remainder of the corn, 1 ½ cup broth, and puree from blender. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Mix in cream. Season chowder with salt and pepper.
Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with onions.