A new year is about new things. I may resolve to change an undesirable behavior, start a new project, learn a new skill. 2012 has found me showing a small group of 6 to 9 year olds how to cook and bake. This group does not meet in my kitchen, but rather at the kitchen of a Seattle neighborhood community center. The foot print of the kitchen is larger than mine, but after moving in a folding table, 6 folding chairs, and the moving-talking-laughing-poking-joking bodies to fill those chairs, the kitchen shrinks to ridiculously tiny proportions. The kitchen is poorly equipped for real cooking/baking, so I carry in most of the tools and equipment we use each week. The small space, the lugging around of equipment might give notion that this new experience is unpleasant. On the contrary! Meeting the kids, discovering their love of food, seeing their desire to make and create stuff has given an energy to this project that I didn’t foresee. I initiated the idea from my desire to share, but the physical circumstances would have quickly extinguished that wish. Working with these young humans, sharing what I know, showing how to use the tools, seeing their delight and frustration when rolling pie pastry, getting the reviews upon tasting the day’s project, getting after them when the exuberance for life turns into a potential kitchen safety hazard-this is where the sustaining energy comes from.
So far we’ve cracked and scrambled eggs, made tiny apple pies, blueberry muffins, pretzels, tomato soup and biscuits, scones which we turned into strawberry shortcakes, and pasta by hand. We’ll continue on with vegetable pot pies, pancakes, crostada, moon pie, and pizza. The kids measure and stir, add liquid to dry, knead, roll, slice, chop, and eat.
The planning for each week, the recipe packets, writing the information pages on pie dough or kinds of apples, the lists of what to bring, this has kept me from writing anything about my own kitchen or my garden. My brain is busy and happy with this activity. I urge any of you to pick up a new thing and do it: dig up some yard and plant some lettuce seeds, try braising a cut of beef, thread a needle and sew a few pieces of fabric together, gather a few people in your home and show them how to do something. Newness is life-giving. The year is still young, give yourself some new life.