Cooking with Class

How many kids in the U.S. can make a full-course dinner? According to dailymail.com, 30 percent of college students can’t boil an egg, while 18 percent can’t make a piece of toast. Is it reasonable to send kids off to college if they don’t even know how to cook an egg? 

When you first send a kid to school, you expect them to learn about math, science, geography, history…but what about cooking? Currently, most schools don’t offer these types of classes, but I think they should. My younger sister attended a cooking camp last summer because she wants to cook in a restaurant some day or start a business related to cooking. But if there were cooking classes offered in schools, she and other kids could have more of these opportunities and, more importantly, learn the foundational skills to feed themselves in a healthy and cost-effective way when they’re older. They would probably start appreciating the food that others cook for them as well. 

When this country was first settled, you couldn’t just throw a pizza in the microwave and eat it in a few minutes. Food came from planting seeds in a garden and raising animals. Everything had to be picked or butchered by hand. Everyone helped—from little children picking vegetables to teenagers shooting game. It was not an option to sit on the couch and eat ramen noodles every night, because there were no ramen noodles. No way would I want to go back to those days, of course (I deeply appreciate being able to contact my friends with the push of a button, and some days I do want to sit and eat ramen—because I LOVE ramen), but modern convenience is no excuse for not knowing how to make yourself an egg in the morning. 

Also, when you put together a meal with your own hands, pouring, mixing and tasting everything yourself, there is a deeply rooted sense of accomplishment—even more so when you share your food with others. When you bake a cake and people like it, it feels so much better than when you buy a cake from the store. Don’t we want kids to feel this, too? When my dad is asked the ingredients of something he’s made, he lists them all and, at the end, he adds “love.” And he means it. 

In first or second grade, one of the first things kids learn in school is what humans need to survive: shelter, water and food. If food is an essential, why don’t schools teach kids how to prepare healthy food that tastes infinitely better than any store-bought or frozen meals? While they’re learning about math, science and other cultures, why not also introduce them to the beautiful culture that is food? I’ll even offer up a lesson plan for the first class.

How to Hard-Boil an Egg

Eggs can be daunting, but they taste very, very good when cooked right. Place the eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add cold water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Heat the pan over high heat just to boiling, then remove from the burner and cover with a lid. Let the eggs stand in the hot water for about 12 minutes for large eggs (9 minutes for medium eggs; 15 minutes for extra large). Drain and serve warm, or cool completely under cold running water or in a bowl of ice water, then refrigerate.

How to Make Toast

Making toast may seem like instinct to some of us, but for those who don’t know how, be assured that it is actually quite easy. Slice a piece of bread from the loaf (I recommend using rye or plain white bread, but you can use anything, any whole grains are healthy! Also, toast is a delicious way to use up slightly stale bread.) Slide the slice of bread into the slot at the top of the toaster, or onto the rack of your toaster oven. If there’s a timing knob, turn it to between 3 and 5 (3 will be lighter; 5 darker). If your toaster/oven has a darkness setting for toast, select a lower setting just in case. Push down the carriage on the toaster, or close the door of the toaster oven, and wait. When your toast pops up or the toaster oven beeps and turns off, grab the toast carefully so as not to burn yourself. Slather with butter or jam and enjoy!

By Addie Maher. Addie is 13 years old and in eighth grade at Acton Academy Austin. She has seven pets (a cat, a dog, four chickens and a little sister) and she loves to cook and eat with her family and friends.