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About Town: Kids Cooking Green at Estabrook

Family and friends enjoy an elementary dinner!

dismissal bell rang a little before 3 p.m. last Tuesday. Within minutes the school was empty – almost.

The voices of almost two dozen fifth- and sixth-graders echoed through the school’s vacant halls. Inside the cafeteria, Lori DeLiso was surrounded by those same students and a few parent helpers.

They were standing, hands washed, properly aproned and energetically ready to prepare a meal for their parents -- all from a menu they created the week before.

The students were participating in the Kids Cooking Green program, a series of five classes that teach youths the importance of local food and healthy cooking and eating.

DeLiso and her partner Liza Connelly brought the educational program into the elementary schools five years ago.

It’s a huge success -- and getting more popular by the year.

“We had a waiting list immediately,” DeLiso said of the Estabrook invitation she put out last spring.

The five-part series is held at different schools and offers hands-on lessons, field trips and, of course, cooking. This year, students were treated to a trip to Great Brook State Farm in Carlisle.

Every class, taught with a lighthearted bent, teaches nutritional and environmental lessons and shows them how eating locally helps the environment and, even better, their bodies.

These students had already been through three lessons and, according to the students, made squash ravioli the week before – from local squash of course.

The students also crafted Tuesday evening’s dinner.

“They planned that menu,” DeLiso said. “They came up with it on their own, what’s local, what’s New England, and what’s nutritious.”

Chef  “Tiger” Mukesh Ramnarine from Boston’s New England Aquarium was on hand to help execute the meal.

A little after 3 p.m., DeLiso had held up a raw kale leaf and showed the students how to tear the edible parts away from the stringy stem.

Everyone painted or rubbed olive oil on the kale, sprinkled the leaves with salt, put them on a sheet pan and into a hot oven.

Those same bitter leaves were offered to about 130 parents at 6:15 p.m. as crispy thin flavorful kale chips. 

Those chips were accompanied by an “Estabrook Shirley Temple," which included cranberry and white grape juice and other secret ingredients.

The students followed the baskets of kale chips with American red crab cakes donated by Chef “Tiger.” The browned and crispy crab cakes were served over a bed of fresh and local arugula and apple salad and drizzled with a creamy basil chipotle aioli.

The main course, proposed by one of the students, was oven-poached cod flavored and decorated with a circle of nori. The deep green seaweed contrasted with the white cod and was also popular.

It was accompanied by sage-garnished potatoes, tri-colored carrots and broccoli.

“They had a rainbow of colors to fill out their plates,” DeLiso said.

A little after 7:15 p.m., everyone was ready for the fruit salad topped with a dollop of homemade sorbet.

It’s worth noting that everyone ate off compostable paper plates. The plastic came from a local company that recycles yogurt cups into plastic forks and knives, which are either reused or recycled, DeLiso said.

All the graduates from this year’s programs at Estabrook, Bridge and Hastings will attend the last on Oct. 25, where they will sell cider, DeLiso said.

Proceeds of that sale will help subsidize a Kids Cooking Green program in an underserved Boston suburb.

Let's help support the students and the school. Get to the final Farmer's Market on Oct. 25 (until the November event) and buy a cup of cider.

Wonder if there’s an Adult Cooking Green class around on the agenda?

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