Fifty Minute Classroom

Mar 25, 2017, 18:35

50-Minute Classroom: Teaching Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Does anything scare new cooks more than gravy? And what to do when faced with a sweet potato AND a yam? Chef Weiner explains how educators can assuage students’ fears of preparing traditional Thanksgiving sides from scratch—and teach it all successfully in 50 minutes.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

Hard to believe, the holidays are upon us. For many of your students, they learned from a young age the important lesson that love must go into the food. However, they probably watched their parents “freak out” about Thanksgiving dinner or, worse yet, watched their parents purchase canned and packaged food.

So it is your job how to teach them to make great-tasting, healthy, homemade side dishes. Here are five items that can all be easily made in one class day, or prepped on one day and finished the next.

1. Cranberry Sauce. There is absolutely nothing easier to make than cranberry sauce. Yet, almost everyone resorts to cans. If your student can boil water, he or she can make homemade cranberry sauce in under 15 minutes.

Rinse a 12-ounce package of cranberries. Add 1 cup water and ¾ cup to 1 cup sugar into a heavy pot. (Amount depends on how sweet you like the sauce.) Simmer for about 10 minutes. The longer you simmer, the thicker the sauce. If you want the sauce smooth, just push the mixture through a strainer while it is still hot. Want to kick it up a notch? Add in diced dried apricots, lemon zest or a pinch of cinnamon, or let your mind be creative.

50-Minute Classroom: Blanching and Parboiling

These very simple techniques are not taught more often in a 50-minute context because the blanched or parboiled product is generally not ready for service by the end of class. But, says Chef Weiner, they’re important to teach for their contributions to cooking. Here, he explains how to best teach the procedures, with applications that can fit perfectly into 50 minutes.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

Over the last four years I have written a number of articles on how to teach different cooking principles in a 50-minute-classroom setting. These articles have included:

It is now time to address one of the easiest cooking principles to teach in 50 minutes: blanching and the related technique of parboiling.

By definition, blanching and parboiling are each just a quick process:

50-Minute Classroom: The “First 50” Index

Chef Weiner lists his first 50 articles written for CAFÉ’s “The Gold Medal Classroom,” for the benefit of readers.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

This article is dedicated to Ms. Terry Jones of Gallup high School in New Mexico. At the June 2014 CAFÉ Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City, she sat down next to me and said, “Adam, I print out each of your articles and keep them in a notebook on my desk. I made an index, and before I teach a new subject I re-read the appropriate article.”

Could anything be more musical to my ears?

Toward the end of 2008 I was contacted by Brent Frei and Mary Petersen asking if I would be interested in writing the regular editorial department, “50-Minute Classroom,” for CAFÉ’s “The Gold Medal Classroom.” I told them that I would do it temporarily for a few months until they found a permanent columnist.

50-Minute Classroom: Teaching Essential Skills

Are you dooming your students to failure by not focusing enough attention on helping them find and keep jobs after graduation?

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

I hope you will endure a bit of self-promotion. I was asked by Mary Petersen of CAFÉ to lead a roundtable discussion at the upcoming Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City on the importance of teaching life skills and job skills to culinary students.

For those of you who have read my articles for a while, you know I adamantly believe that unless you teach your students job-searching skills, skills to keep the job, and basic life skills you are dooming them to failure. I have written a number of CAFÉ articles on this very subject:

1.     “Interview Skills,” March 2011

2.     “Help Your Students Keep Their Jobs,” May 2011

3.     “Teaching Students How to Get a Job, Part I,” June 2012

4.     “Teaching Your Students How to Find a Job, Part II,” July-August 2012

5.     “12 Things for Students to Know,” on how to work in a commercial kitchen, December 2012

6.     “Teaching the Value of ‘Real’ Networking,” May 2013

7.     “The 10 Hardest Things to Teach Young Culinary Students,” July-August 2013

8.     “Working in Teams Needs to Be Taught,” September 2013

9.     “Volunteering for Young and Old,” December 2013

50-Minute Classroom: Look for the Open Door. It Is There

As the term comes to a close, Chef Weiner shares a commencement speech he delivered to graduates who were not culinary-arts students. In it, he dispensed with niceties to instead offer a generous helping of reality.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

If you are a regular reader of “50-Minute Classroom,” you know I believe our job as culinary teachers is not to merely teach cooking. Our job is to use cooking as a tool to help our students succeed in the world. In fact, at CAFÉ’s 10th-annual Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City next month, I am hosting a roundtable discussion on the importance of teaching students the essential combination of life and job skills.

In January I was asked to be the lead speaker at a graduation ceremony for a halfway-house program in my county because of the success I’ve had with teaching and getting jobs for people. Although I have spoken at numerous events about food and teaching, I have never spoken at a graduation other than for culinary students. I spent some time talking with my wife, and I came up with what I wanted to say. What’s interesting is that it wasn’t a “rah-rah you did great” speech, but a speech on reality.