We thought Baked Cod and Roasted Carrots might be a dinner our students would not be excited about – and we were braced for moans. But we were pleased to see that they were curious about the fish more than resistant to it. None remembered if they had eaten cod before, and they were eager to dive in to preparing it.
I tried a new idea about the division of labor for the kids this week, attaching mini post it notes on the recipe to jobs that need to be done, so the kids could find another job after they finished a task. It was somewhat successful, in that there was always another job to do, to keep the kids engaged. But it may take a couple of weeks to see if it’s a good system.
As we started off peeling the carrots, with each student peeling one, we saw immediately what a huge difference a kitchen tool can make. The kids with the Oxo peelers finished in a jiffy. The others struggled.
Cutting the carrots into coins demonstrated how beautifully they have learned to use sharp knives in only four weeks. Kyle Hunter was meticulous about getting the size exactly right, and even picked out one or two carrot tops that had been inadvertently tossed onto the sheet pan to roast. Then he carefully placed the carrots in the oven.
Next, we started the topping for the fish, Ariannie Morales chopped the parsley, while Ny’Asia Damon created the zest for the lemon, by peeling it, then mincing it, as we didn’t have a zester.
Nathan Delva got to work measuring the breadcrumbs and melting the butter, then mixing those with the zest and parsley. Ariannie and Nathan took great care pressing the topping onto the fish, making sure to cover every inch of cod as much as possible. And then the fish was in the oven.
I had also brought potatoes because they were on sale — two 5-pound bags for $4– and I didn’t need that many potatoes! We sliced the spuds into quarters and set them to boil.
One of the hardest things about cooking, I told the students, is getting everything done on time, and it seemed to take forever to get those potatoes boiling. But once the fish and the carrots were done, we turned the oven way down and left them in there to keep them warm til the potatoes were done.
It’s so wonderful to see how beautifully these students work together and support each other. Ariannie was a perfect coach for Kyle as he did dishes for the first time. “You don’t need to use that much soap,” she told him. “The first time I did dishes, I almost used the whole bottle and my Mom was not happy she had to buy more.” She gently instructed him to get all the food off the cutting boards and scrub them with the brush and then make sure all the soap was gone, as he washed the prep dishes.
Finally, it was time to eat! And probably no surprise, the potatoes were the biggest hit. We smashed them, adding a little butter and salt, and a bit of sour cream that we still had in the fridge leftover from the Bolognese the week before.
“I wish we could have this at lunch and camp!” said Ny’Asia, after her first bite of the potatoes. “Yeah, why can’t the lunch ladies make this?” asked Kyle.
The carrots were also well-received. “Those carrots are really good!” gushed Ariannie. “Nathan and I are finishing all of them,” said Kyle, as he went back for more.
And now for the cod: Kyle took two generous bites of the cod, and then allowed that he wasn’t really a fan. But Ariannie and Ny’Asia gave it a thumbs up, Ny’Asia even went back for seconds. Nathan gave it two thumbs up — with a giant smile. “I really like it!” he said.