Monday, 30 September 2013

The Final Week of Term 3

We repeated last week’s menu this week:

Gnocchi with Tomato Herb Sauce
Broccoli Fritters with Minted Yoghurt Sauce
Silver beet in Olive Oil with Chick Peas and Currants
Cheesy Vegetables

Of course it wasn’t an exact repeat as vegetable availability changes each week.

We had little broccoli but lots of baby spinach so the fritter recipe was adapted a little. It is certainly a really versatile recipe, having changed from cauliflower as the main vegetable to broccoli and now to spinach. The spinach version was really good!

The Cheesy Vegetables continued to have a base of diced swede and carrots, but this week we added caramelised leeks and wilted baby spinach leaves.

It is the last week of term this week and perhaps a good time to reflect on progress and goals.

This term I have been attempting to collect data on student progress in the kitchen and the garden classes, asking staff to complete skills records sheets for students at the end of each session. Staff record students’ participation in various activities, indicating whether the student has participated by observing, with assistance, by following instructions or independently; staff also record mealtime behaviour and number of foods eaten. I am hoping to use this data to produce a detailed record sheet for students to take with them when they leave school.

The development of these data sheets required me to spend time thinking about goals, skills, indicators of achievement, etc.  I decided to use the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation goals as my starting point so developed a record sheet with the following five divisions:


The Foundation believes that each of these five aspects should have equal importance within a school program.  This has immediately made me review my programs and led me to realise that I need to give far more emphasis to harvesting in particular.

The photos taken this week show how the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program provides a wealth of learning opportunites – sometimes we just have to step back and allow our students to show us just how much they are capable of!

Here are some examples of ways that our students can be encouraged to participate.

Regan loves order and everything to be in its right place so what better activity could we give him than to tidy the garden tools.

Jordan loves heavy physical work and also loves sensory activities – using the dicer for chopping is perfect for him and providing opportunities to smell and taste our garden herbs is excellent. Jordan this week displayed great skill with the chopper – all that was required by way of direction was to remind him to keep chopping, he placed the vegetables onto the dicer and chopped independently.

Patrick loved the feel of the grissini dough and did a good job rolling it into sticks.
Steven participated well doing some peeling and also setting the table.

Jo, like Jordan, did a good job dicing.

Cameron stirred the fritter batter.


Aidan was able to fry the fritters with minimal instruction or assistance.
A great achievement in the garden this week was when both Nick and Bradley stroked a chicken; for these two young men the touching was quite a challenge. For Patrick touching wasn’t a challenge, but learning how to be gentle was the goal.


Amelia was able to operate a microwave oven with some assistance.

Josie impressed me this week with her sensory observations – she harvested some fennel and then commented that it smelled of liquorice!

Rochelle made Cheesy Vegetables this week. Here are some of the skills involved:
·         Dicing vegetables
·         Frying leeks
·         Boiling vegetables
·         Making cheese sauce in a microwave
·         Pouring the sauce over the vegetables
·         Placing the filled dishes in the oven
Rochelle took part in every one of these stages – dicing was completely independent and the rest of the activities required either just directions or a little assistance.
Initially, for example, Rochelle had help with the pouring, but quickly got the idea and was able to pour the sauce on her own.

William has shown a great liking for gnocchi in recent weeks. This week he removed a photo of gnocchi from a display and gave it to a member of staff – excellent communication!

Ellen participated really well in making gnocchi this week. In this photo Ellen can be seen adding the gnocchi to a pan of boiling water – with the cooking bench moved to its lowest position and using a shallow saucepan it was possible to set up an opportunity for this activity to be completed safely.

And last but not least here are Bella and Aidan putting the food that they had prepared onto serving dishes – what a great sense of achievement to see the end product of their labours looking so attractive.

So, a summary of my reflections…………
·         We are going in the right direction
·         We need to continue to look for opportunities to increase student participation
·         We need to put more emphasis on garden activities, especially harvesting
·         Skills record sheets need further development, but should be a priority – it is really important that our students leave school with a means of communicating to others what they can do in the kitchen and the garden and what a wide range of foods they like to eat.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Week 9 Term 3 2013

This week we made:

Gnocchi with Tomato Herb Sauce
Broccoli Fritters with Yoghurt & Mint Sauce
Cheesy Vegetables
Silver beet in Olive Oil with Chick peas and Currants

Gnocchi seems to be getting easier and better every week! We are beginning to think that all of the talk about using special potatoes and how to cook them is a bit of a myth – we have been using any old potatoes this week and have just been peeling and boiling them (instead of the recommended roasting on rock salt) and have had excellent results.

And similarly we simplified the broccoli fritter recipe. It was an adaptation of our cauliflower fritter recipe which called for whole coriander and cumin seeds that then required roasting and grinding – this time we used ready ground coriander and cumin and it was just as good. This was probably our best fritter recipe – it adapted easily from the cauliflower one and in fact a variety of vegetables could be substituted.

It was good to have the silver beet recipe again – it was one of the first things we cooked when we started the program and has always been very popular.

I have decided to reduce my workload by repeating menus. In future a menu will be run for two weeks instead of one. So next week we are cooking the same items as this one – I’m sure there will be no complaints!
I must make particular mention of Regan, Kaitlin and Michael this week – all achieved ‘firsts’  during our dining sessions, either by eating or by sitting or both. Well done!

Well done Cameron W for excellent almost independent table setting the week.

Our dicers continue to be heavily used!

I was very impressed with Liam this week – his use of the microwave was very good.


Big congratulations also to Jo who made broccoli fritters with very little support. I cracked the eggs and Jo split them apart, I held the blender and Jo pressed the button, Jo counted while I added ingredients, Jo fried the fritters.


Lots of excellent teamwork was on display this week – I was especially impressed with Aidan and Litiani.

We had a lot of wet weather this week so some garden classes had to be cancelled. Some good weather recording was completed when classes did run. The weather activity is one that provides a whole range of excellent learning opportunities. The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation produces books called Tools for Teachers which contain activities that are extensions of the kitchen and garden classes – one of the aims of the Foundation is for schools to integrate the kitchen and garden work into all aspects of student learning. Southern Support School’s work using our weather board is going to be included in the next edition of this book – with photos of Ryan (published in a recent Blog post)! The book is used in schools throughout Australia.



Some classes have been growing broad beans in pots and this week they were very excited to find that their seeds had germinated. Jed was especially pleased!!


Students have been discovering the snow peas in the garden this week – very few make it to the table!!

Lots of mulching happened this week.

And of course a lot of time was spent with the chickens.

I must thank our enthusiastic photographer, Mel, for her wonderful contributions this week – long may they continue!!
Finally a selection of photos: