Wednesday, August 22

A Post and A Promise

Oh my can't be possible that I haven't posted since August 3. That is completely ridiculous. I offer the following explanation:

It was a dark and stormy night. A shot rang out...

No, wait...try this one: I was on a hill outside the lights of the city when I saw a strange glow in the western sky. It grew brighter and brighter until I realized that it was not just a formless light - it was a spaceship! I tried to run but I found myself rooted to the spot that I was standing. Terror fought with curiosity in my mind - what would the inhabitants of this strange vehicle look like? Be like? Alas, I cannot recall anything that happened between the time I saw the ship and when I awoke last week in the strange land called "New Jersey." Fortunately the aliens dropped me off in a friendly neighborhood near the NJ Light Rail.

Okay - enough excuses and wild tales...I have been a bad blogger and you, my faithful readers (are there still more than one?) deserve a decent apology. I'm sorry. And you deserve a decent post. I'll try. Somebody get me a topic! To the random topic generator!!

Instead of a completely random topic, I will share with you that the JIFF (Juniors in Fun and Fellowship) program begins again tomorrow night. And since my last wild idea worked out pretty well...I've had another one! It all began in early summer when I was watching an episode of Restaurant Impossible. If you've never seen the show - host Robert Irvine is challenged to turn around a failing restaurant with a budget of $10,000 and two days. This was a special episode with a unique challenge. First Lady Michelle Obama challenged him to renovate a DC center that provides neighborhood kids with mentoring, tutoring and nutrition. Part of the challenge was to be provide healthier food choices...including utilizing a nearby patch of donated ground for a neighborhood garden.

The whole time I was watching the episode I kept seeing parallels between that program and our JIFF program. And something kept poking at my consciousness - our students need opportunities to learn more about food. They need to know where it comes from, how to prepare it and how to make better choices.

As a person who is pretty good at ignoring poking from my consciousness...I promptly pushed that thought to the back of my mind. Then a few days later I saw ANOTHER episode of Restaurant Impossible. This time he was working to turn around a high school's student-run cafe. Because of diminishing budgets the culinary arts program at this high school had declined to the point that their cafe was serving a lot of re-heated frozen food and the student body and faculty had stopped eating there. Without the income from the cafe, the program was in danger of being folded altogether.

I got the hint. And so I decided that I needed to try this wild idea. I am going to teach JIFF kids how to cook. And yes, we are even going to learn knife skills. As I told my doubtful brother - if you don't teach them, how will they learn?

Each week I will have a different group of students (3-5 grade girls, 3-5 grade boys, 6-8 grade girls, 6-8 grade boys) for the entire hour and a half. Our first session will compare the taste differences between box macaroni and cheese and that made from scratch. During that, we will learn the first of the "mother sauces" in French cuisine - bechamel. And then how that becomes a cheese sauce. We will have the opportunity to discuss the cost differences, ingredients to add to mac & cheese to turn it into a main dish, etc.

What will the other sessions be? If you have ideas - let me know.

As far as my infrequent blogging is concerned - I am making this promise: I will post every day for the next 30 days. I will allow myself three "Free Passes" - days that I can post "I am using my Free Pass" instead of a real post. If I fail in this promise then I will give $100 to the Romney campaign. And I'd rather cut my arm off.

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