Tasty lessons

November 29, 2011


Who knew English could be such a tasty subject?

Eighth-grade English classes at Martinsville Middle School practiced their writing and cooking skills recently as they compiled a class cookbook. On Nov. 22, the young chefs brought in samples of their favorite family recipes to share with the class.

This is the third year that teachers Monica Stevens and Sarah Byrd have done the cookbook project with their students. They let parents know about it at the beginning of the year and encouraged them to share a meaningful family recipe and the story behind it.

Stevens said one of the best parts of the project is the students “sitting down with their parents and talking about traditions and things that are important to their families.”

Also, the eighth-grade English curriculum deals with different types of writing, including informational text, and oral interviews.

“It’s a real learning experience. (The cookbook) provides a real-life application for the interviewing, writing and text structure skills we learn in class,” Stevens said.

The recipes can make an eclectic meal. The first year, Stevens recalled, a student submitted a recipe for squirrel gravy. In one class period last week, students lined up to sample taco pie, Grandma’s cabbage, pizza-hero sandwiches, brownies, honey bun cake and a chicken salsa that Stevens made from a student’s recipe in an earlier cookbook.

Before the winter break, every student will receive a own copy of the eighth-grade cookbook to take home.

“It provides a lasting memento of their eighth grade experience” and also “a variety of tasty recipes for the family to enjoy,” Stevens said.

Some of the recipes reflect students’ cultural heritage. Sarah Divers submitted a recipe for Greek Cheesecake.

“I got the idea from my grandma because my family is Greek,” Divers said. “I really love this recipe.” She said she enjoyed sharing a special family dish for the project. “I liked that it was more personal.”

Ariane Lintag used a recipe from the Phillipines for Chicken Adobo, which is made with chicken or pork simmered with garlic, onions, soy sauce, vinegar, paprika, bay leaves and ginger.

“This is one of my favorite Filipino dishes that my mom used to make,” Lintag said. “Filipinos eat this dish with rice.”

Nick Haley used “an old family recipe” for banana pudding. “My grandma made it, and it’s been passed down,” he said.

Miracle Long wrote about her grandmother’s recipe, which consists of cabbage and ground beef browned with onion and bell pepper. “The scent of Grandma’s cabbage used to fill the whole entire house with such a fulfilling smell to where the only thing I can do is smile,” she said.

But while some students made traditional dishes, Triston Dodson came up with something completely different that he called his “breakfast concoction.” It involves eggs, cheese, bacon, bologna, ham and turkey on bread. The bread should be heated on a griddle so the cheese melts, Dodson said.

His inspiration came from one night when he and a friend were “up at 4 o’clock in the morning. We were really hungry and couldn’t decide which of those things in the fridge to eat,” he said, so they combined all of them.

“It tastes good, once you get past the fact that it has every food known to man on a piece of bread,” Dodson said.

However, when asked if he thought his classmates would be brave enough to try it, he said, “I doubt it.”

(Kim Barto is community outreach and grants coordinator for the Martinsville Schools.)


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