29 March 2010

funeral potatoes

Yesterday in Relief Society, Sister B. got up to thank everyone for helping out with the four funerals we've had in the past seven weeks in our ward.

I've been so disheartened lately by the hateful rhetoric and irreconcilable differences heightened by the healthcare reform process, and even uncomfortable at church thinking about how I might be worshipping next to someone who thinks I'm a communist or a baby-killer because of my political views, so when Sister B. said that, I felt the balm of creamed soup come over my soul. After all, no matter what our political views, when asked to bring potatoes to a funeral, we all combine two cans of cream of chicken soup, one pint of sour cream, 1/2 bunch of scallions, and 2 c. of cheddar cheese with a bag of frozen shredded potatoes and bake at 350 in a 9x13 dish. At least that's what I've been doing since I moved to Utah seven years ago. (Although some of us choose to top with crushed cornflakes or potato chips and some of us don't). For a moment I melted, became molten inside, as Scarlett Lindeman described funeral potatoes in this beautifully written article.

This can't be a bad thing, to come together in this way, even with processed, industrial food, to support each other in our trials. And though I've had my moments of alienation in the past twenty-plus years as a sister, this communal spirit keeps me in the fold year in and year out.

p.s.--photo of molten funeral potatoes stolen from this website.

p.p.s.--are funeral potatoes served in any other churches, for instance, midwestern churches, where they also serve a lot of jello?

16 March 2010

the edge of spring

Yesterday two students in my cooking class requested that we learn to poach eggs, which inspired a trip to Clifford Family Farms for fresh eggs.

Driving south from the school towards the farm, the eastern mountains were jagging up from clouds and mist and edges of sunlight were just glowing around the peaks.  

It was very happy.

On the way back from the farm Timpanogas was in full sunlight, really the most beautiful thing I remember seeing.  I love this time of seasonal transition--all the anticipation and first moments of sandals (three of my students wore them yesterday), or arugula, spring dresses or asparagus.

And the eggs?  We poached them.

Cali was scared to eat them.  "They're slimy,"  she said.

"Not slimy,"  I said, "silky.  Eat the yolk with your hash brown."

She did.  She and Katy split one, said they liked it.  Amanda is still processing her first poached egg.  "I'm not sure what to say yet.  It was a different taste for me."  

Megan and Mackenzie didn't taste.  Maybe by the end of the week?

I have many stories and recipes to post over at Walden School Cooks and Eats, so stay tuned, and eat a fresh egg (preferably laid by a galavanting chicken) with asparagus soon.

07 March 2010


For the past ten years I've been moving towards doing more with writing and cooking.  I have several projects going now, but the most tangible and imminent work comes from my teaching job.  I'm working on a really good curriculum that integrates language and culinary arts, and finally, after three years, feel I'm on the right track.  This project is far from done, but if you're interested in seeing what my young students are learning  and writing about in my "Locavore Eating and Foraging" class, beginning March 22nd or in my "Cooking Around the World" class, an intensive cooking class learning from a variety of cuisines, check out our new blog. The blog is in beginning phases, but will hopefully grow quickly, and will chronicle the growth of this curriculum.  I'm posting some writing from last semester, which wasn't a cooking class, but we did have several food experiences to draw from in our writing assignments, including two outings to the Amano Chocolate Factory and a cheese tasting day.   

Next week, so far, we're doing crepes, pots de creme, spinach crepes mornay, apple galette, japanese noodles and tamales.  Any more suggestions for fun, basic recipes?  Anyone want to teach a dish?  Speak to my students?  Host a tasting at their fabulous local restaurant (I'm talking to you Rooster, Pizzeria 712, and Communal)?

My ideal language arts classroom would be a kitchen.  Class would meet every morning after breakfast in a comfortable sunny nook.  We would read, write, cook, clean up and end with lunch.