It is wonderful to see the curiosity awaken, the confidence grow and the joy of cooking blossom as these budding cooking students spend a little time in the kitchen. This week, we were quick-pickling cucumbers to add to Sloppy Joes made with turkey instead of beef. And these kids were excited every step of the way.

The first job was peeling the cucumbers, and we found that most vegetable peelers are designed for right-handed cooks! Nonetheless, we found a peeler that would work for left-handed Nathan Delva, and he and Kyle Hunter worked assiduously, excising every speck of peel on those cukes.

“What will it look like when it’s pickled?” asked Kyle, who had been shy and quiet during the first week.

It’s mostly the taste and texture that will change, I told them, but they would see for themselves. They tasted the raw cucumbers to have something to compare.

“They taste like salad,” said Ny’Asia Damon, who interrupted her onion chopping to take a taste. She didn’t walk as much as she danced through the kitchen, her shoulders, arms and hips rolling to the beat in her head.

Once the cucumbers were sliced, and the ingredients for the pickling brine measured and poured over them, they were set aside to let the magic happen.

When we were reviewing the recipe, Kyle was intrigued about the sautéing of the turkey. “Are we going to do that? he asked. “Can I do that?”

So Kyle manned the skillet at the stove, stirring as we added the ground turkey, celery and onions, and Ny’Asia and Nathan measured the other ingredients and sliced the rolls.

“I don’t think I’m doing this right,” Kyle said, as he tried to break apart the pink meat.

“You are doing it exactly right,” I said. “It just takes time.”

“I really like this part,” he said.

The turkey did eventually break apart and turn brown, we added the spices and ketchup, and let it simmer, while we set the table and toasted the slider rolls.

“It really smells great,” said Nathan.

“I know I’m going to eat it all up!” said Ny’Asia.

And that they did! They filled their plates and ate every last bite.

“The cucumbers got sweet,” said Nathan. “And soft,” said Ny’Asia.

“It’s awesome,” said Nathan.

“I love this meal!” said Ny’Asia

“Really good,” said Kyle, though he added some extra ketchup to his.

And here’s what they wrote in their journals.

Ny’Asia: “I learned you can pickle cucumbers.”

Kyle: “I learned how to cook turkey. It’s done when it’s no longer pink.”

Nathan: “I learned how to cut correctly without cutting myself.”

But my favorite comment was from Ny’Asia as she was cleaning up:

“I wish I could start at the beginning and make it all over again!”

You can, Ny’Asia, you can. You can make this for your family at home!