By Karen Billing
Skyline School was recently selected as the recipient of a completely stocked cooking cart from the Sage Garden Project, giving students a complement to their growing school garden and allowing them to try their hand at cooking in the classroom using vegetables they have grown on campus.
The Sage Garden Project Foundation is based in Encinitas and specializes in bringing hands-on elements such as gardens and kitchens into schools to help students learn about nutrition and wellness. A grant from the foundation provided the cooking cart, as well as funded a garden aid position at the school.
The marble-topped cooking cart is getting heavy use already by Judith Tillyard’s kindergarten, first and second grade combination class. The students made parsnip and carrot latkes on Wednesday, Dec. 12. Tillyard and her students are learning about other cultures by studying “pancakes of the world.” Latkes represented a stopover in Poland, the students “visited” France by making crepes, and Tillyard also plans to make tortillas, Indian dosas and Swedish pancakes.
With all of her recipes, Tillyard tries to tie in something from the garden, which the students spend time in every day.
Working in groups of six and outfitted in chef’s hats and aprons, the young chefs peeled potatoes and carrots and snipped up chives. While the knives weren’t used Dec. 12, the cart comes with nylon knives that are sharp enough to cut up ingredients but won’t cut skin.
“Isn’t this fun?” remarked student Millen. “I smell something good!”
Students also got to crack and whisk up the eggs and add the flour, mixing all the ingredients for Tillyard to take it to the cart’s induction stovetop, which doesn’t get hot so it doesn’t burn little fingers.
In addition to the stovetop, the cart also comes stocked with a blender and a NuWave Oven, a clear oven that allows kids to keep watch as food cooks inside.
Students kept track of the cooking time on a timer and excitedly chanted “Time’s up! Time’s up!” when it went off.
All of the students had the opportunity to taste their results, topped with dollops of applesauce or sour cream. Some were fans of the latkes, some didn’t like them as much, but all tried it. According to Sage Garden Project Director Dawn Mayeda, that’s the beauty of the cart, providing a connection from the garden to the table. It allows children to become familiar with the vegetables and they might discover they like them or identify them when they’re an option at the salad bar or dinner table.
Sage Garden Project has provided three such carts to three local schools and has also funded a garden aid at Solana Vista School.
Last year the Sage Garden Foundation provided funding for all of the students at Skyline to take two field trips to the Center for A Healthy Lifestyle in Solana Beach and participate in a cooking project.
This year the Skyline PTA has taken on those trips and will fund them so they can continue, in addition to all