More Stories From My High School Cooking Classes

Lounge By indydebi Updated 11 Sep 2015 , 10:44pm by shdvl

indydebi Posted 29 Aug 2015 , 9:47pm
post #1 of 20

And so I begin my second year teaching high school cooking classes!  Best job I've ever had in my life!!!  We just had our first cooking day and it was chocolate chip cookies.  omg, these poor kids who have NO IDEA how to read recipes or measure when baking!  It is hysterically funny!  

One of the kitchen groups used twice as much brown sugar, used 1/4 cup instead of 1/2 tsp of baking soda (bleck!) and they decided to steal a second portion of chocolate chips.  The end result was a thin crispy puddled mess that we used as a visual demo in the days after to show "THIS is what you get when you don't follow directions!"  Two other kitchenS had no cookies because they also mis-measured.

I'm not complaining or upset..... I think they are funny stories and it's why they're in the class ... to learn this stuff.  And needless to say, we are hitting the lesson of measuring extra hard in the next few weeks.

But even my Advanced class .... making white cupcakes from scratch.  One kitchen had a giant pancake in the oven.   When we decided just to pull and trash it, I asked them to "Talk with each other and see if you can figure out what happened."  I had tasted the leftover batter and could feel the sugar crunching between my teeth.  Well, I'm was impressed!  They figured out they doubled the sugar.

Another cupcake kitchen had a volcanic eruption with their cupcakes!  omg I laughed so much with them (WITH them!) but gotta say I did give them bonus points because "I couldn't have planned a better lesson to demonstrate mechanical leavening!"  They had used the whisk attachment instead of the paddle, whipping in a lot of air (which we had JUST discussed 2 days prior, when learning the baking chapter!).  3 of them came in the next day to re-do the cupcakes during a study hall, and during some discussion, I learned they ALSO put about 3/4 CUP of baking powder in, in stead of 1-3/4 teaspoons!  All that extra leavening ... they had nothing but big giant air bubbles that exploded in the oven!!!  LOL!

Like I said, I couldn't have planned a better lesson to illustrate "this is what leavening does"!! and how "more is NOT better!"

The next cooking lesson is how to use knives.  They will be mincing, dicing and cubing celery, onions and potatoes, then throwing it all in a skillet to make "deluxe" home fries.

Knives.  Oh lordy! Pray for me!!flushed.png

But make no mistake ..... I LOVE MY JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  kissing_heart.png

19 replies
indydebi Posted 29 Aug 2015 , 9:50pm
post #2 of 20

Oh a P.S.  I was observing one young man try to measure 1/2 tsp of baking powder with a dry measuring cup in his hand.  I said, "How much do you need?"

Him: 1/2 cup

Me: Read it again

Him: 1/2 cup

Me; Read the whole thing

Him: Baking powder

Me: Read the whole thing

HIm: 1/2 cup baking powder

Me: Try again

Him: Half a ...... oh..... teaspoon.  Is that the big spoon?

Me: (big sigh).  No. It's not.

He finally got it. :-)

Shockolata Posted 29 Aug 2015 , 11:06pm
post #3 of 20

Very entertaining glimpses into your life :) By the end of the year, they will be experts. My daughter did a cooking club at school two years ago. They made a lovely brownie. She brought home the recipe which did not make sense. The teacher had mistyped it and it was full of sugar (yuck!) and was missing some ingredients or it did not describe how to use them. We tried the recipe but it came out all wrong. Then I asked the teacher for the proper recipe and she never got back to me. I don't think teachers (not culinary teachers) know much about measurements and details, either. But once you know about cooking/baking, you can evaluate any recipe and tell if it will work or not, don't you agree? Do you tell your students to measure out all the ingredients before they begin the process and to check and double check they got them all out? I used to be a chaotic baker but have finally come to the wisdom that it is best to lay everything out in front of you so that you do not accidentally skip an ingredient. 

indydebi Posted 29 Aug 2015 , 11:41pm
post #4 of 20

Yes, we have a central table with all of the supplies on it and one (no more than 2) people from each kitchen comes to get the ingredients.  I have charged them with learning to tell by looking if it's right or not.  The supply person brings the 1 cup of sugar to the chef ... the chef hands it to the asst cook ... and between the three of them, ONE of them (eventually) will be able to look at it and say "That's not 2 cups ... remeasure that."

That's a fun process, too.  I have kids walk up to the supply table with nothing in their hand and I ask them, "How are you going to get your flour, scoop it with your hand and carry it in your pocket?" and I send them back to the kitchen to get equipment.  Don't get me started on those who don't even have the recipe in their hand so they have no clue how much of anything they need!  flushed.png   When I see someone measuring sugar in a liquid measuring cup, I take it out of their hands, dump the sugar and tell them, "Back to the kitchen ... get the right equipment."  (ok, gotta confess, that part is kinda fun!  :-)  )

They have to pass my Intro and my Adv class before they can sign up for our Culinary Arts program (college credit toward a culinary degree; they actually run a real restaurant in our school that is open to the public) so I hit hard on health dept rules, wearing gloves, sanitizing counters with bleach solution before doing anything, etc.

Gerle Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 1:24am
post #5 of 20

Indydebi, I wish we had someone like you teaching cooking classes when I was in school.  I've always loved to cook so I caught on easily, but we had some real nitwits in class and it took forever to get things done!  The teachers we had then were ok, but they didn't always cover the bare basics.  I'm actually surprised about the things I've learned as I got older -- and embarrassed that I've even learned some on this site that I should have known before now.  I guess I caught on well enough at a younger age, though, because cooking and baking has always been my passion.  Some kids nowadays just don't have the first idea of what to do, how to do it, let alone what to do it with.  I feel sorry for them because their parents don't even know how to train/teach them what to do or how to cook/bake.  Everything in so many families now is fast food/frozen/microwaved.  I tried to teach my two boys at least the basics of cooking, and it took a little.  At least both of them can do the basic things and both are interested in learning new things.  They at least cook WITH their wives and are willing to learn new things, so that helps their spouses and they have fun working together.  Sometimes they surprise me by asking for cookbooks for Christmas!  They both love to bbq if nothing else!!  And luckily I married a man who also loves to cook, so we share kitchen duties and he's willing to learn new things as well.  I wish you continued success in your classes and I hope your students appreciate the wonderful teacher they have and will learn from all you have to teach them!

indydebi Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 1:34am
post #6 of 20

Last year, making biscuits from scratch, and I spotted one girl poking/pushing the dough with her fingers, then asking me "Can I cut out the biscuits now?"  I said, "aren't you going to roll it out first?"  She said, "With what?"  I was FLOORED to discover she was not the only one who had no idea what a rolling pin was or what it was used for.  With canned biscuits and pre-cut sugar cookies, I can intellectually understand it but the other part of my brain was screaming "You've GOT to be kidding me!!!!!!!!!!???????"

Gerle Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 1:39am
post #7 of 20

It's sad in a lot of ways, but so true.  Kids these days only know what computers, cell phones, Ipods and all those fancy things are.  They don't know what the normal every day tools are that are used in the home for cooking, cleaning, etc.  Makes me glad I was born when I was.  I'm not so sure I'd want to be born in this day and age!  Also makes me not so sure if I was of child bearing age if I'd want to have kids in this day and age!

AAtKT Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 3:11am
post #8 of 20


Okay... I know what I am about to say is way way way off in left field here... but it isn't just cooking they don't know about...

My regular job is that of an Anatomy & Physiology and Basic Biology Instructor... I teach adults...

It amazes me how many of my students have children, yet don't realize that the uterus is the organ of their reproductive system that the baby inside them is attached to...  

(insert shocked face and then giggling face here)

And I have a slew of other things that make me wonder for our future... and I am only 37...


edited to remind everyone that while I am shocked by it, I also find it amusing

*Last edited by AAtKT on 30 Aug 2015 , 3:15am
Shockolata Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 9:57am
post #9 of 20

Let's not generalise about kids. My daughter had a school friend who is a competent baker. She researches recipes online and bakes cakes that would put an adult to shame with their look. However, I did not like the taste of her cake. She is using sour cream instead of buttermilk, probably due to translation problems. The cakes taste off and metallic. They also keep flour in a cupboard sandwiched between the double oven and the fridge along with the spices... Because she was only 9 years old, she wouldn't take any advice. She thinks she is already made but baking involves a lot more than reading recipes and knowing how to divide and multiply. For example, it involves knowing that chocolate comes in many different varieties and using 70% is not ideal for a marble cake. When I told her that I only began getting better after 40, she gave me a look... oh the look! Yes, I did bake from a young age, but the true understanding comes with time and unlimited repetitions. When I reach 60 (if God grants me this gift) I will probably be looking back to today's bakes and cringe at my lack of knowledge/finesse. :)

AAtKT Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 12:10pm
post #10 of 20


I apologize if you felt I was generalizing... I teach adults as stated, so wasn't even just discussing our youth...

I have many wonderfully competent and intelligent students... I am sure Indydebi does as well... 

She was just sharing some fun and silly moments from her students... 

I think back to when I was in high school and refused to take a home economics course... I could already do all the stuff they were asking, so I took home mechanics and learned to repair my house since I didn't know those things...

I am sure my teacher had a bunch of moments in the teacher's lounge with the others telling them about this crazy girl in his all boy class...

Hell... I had a bunch of laughs at my own expense that year... but I grew and learned and can do many things around my house that I couldn't before...



Gerle Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 1:53pm
post #11 of 20

Yeah, there are always some exceptions.  There are some who take the initiative at a young age to learn how  to do things that are "necessities" such as baking, cleaning, cooking and taking care of one's self, but there are unfortunately more who do not.  Sometimes I think I see a change and that more of the younger generation are doing more for themselves, but I haven't seen enough of it to convince me that it's turning around yet.  Hopefully it will.  And yes, there are also many adults who can't do for themselves.  We have a complacent society in many ways, but we do have those who like to get out and do things....those are the movers and shakers and it's a good thing we have them!

indydebi Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 4:49pm
post #12 of 20

It's not just kids, folks.  Just yesterday, I replied to a distant cousin-in-law on facebook ...... she said she still had her mom's flour sifter but "didn't use it much as modern flour doesn't have stones".  I reminded her that sifting flour is for accurate measurement .... a sifted cup of flour has less flour than a "scoop and swipe" cup of flour.  I had my classes do this experiment a couple of weeks ago.  

What makes my heart swell is when my kids come back into class and excitedly tell me "I made those cookies for my family this weekend and they loved them!!!!"

Apti Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 10:24pm
post #13 of 20

@Indydebi ~~ This is why I love you.  Although we've never met, I can SO see you in the classes with these high-school young people.  (They strongly object to being called "kids" in High School!) 

Keep these marvelous stories coming and tell your students that there are a LOT of people online that are VERY PROUD of them!

bubs1stbirthday Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 10:33pm
post #14 of 20

Haha, these stories are funny and remind me of a work experience girl we had in at a Vet Clinic that I worked at years ago. At the end of the day she was asked to get the vacuum and do the floors. Off she goes, gets the vacuum and starts 'using it', after a few minutes she looks at me and asks 'do I just press the button here?' while pointing at the on/off button looking puzzled. 

On closer inspection I realised she had not plugged the vacuum into the power and clearly had no idea how to use one smirk.png. At the tender age of 16 she had no idea how to use it? To this day I still don't understand how that is possible lol

HamSquad Posted 31 Aug 2015 , 1:23am
post #15 of 20

This brings back a memory my 21 y/o and I laugh about to this day. When she was about 8 or 9, she was outside playing with neighborhood friend. I was in the kitchen cooking dinner, needless to say I was covered in flour (black house dress) . The next, thing you know, my daughter rings the door bell so she could ask me a question with her friends. You should have seen the shocked or "deer in the headlight look" her friends had  when they saw me come to the door covered in flour! I know they thought I must have been working with "substances", I don't know! It was absolutely priceless. My daughter proudly announced my Mom is cooking dinner and she bake cakes too! There response, " she does"!  I'm a nutrition major and worked as  nutritionist for 24 yrs, retired now! I've learned people just don't cook at home, their children don't how to cook because the parents relied on the convenience of already prepare foods at the supermarkets. Thanks for sharing " Indydebi", you brought back many  fond memories. 

Bluehue Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 2:54pm
post #16 of 20

OMGoodness - now there is a name and face i have not seen for a long time.

Hello  Indydebi    smiley.png

I *looked* for you about 2 years ago to speak to you...but for the life of me i couldn't find you on here.   

So happy to read that you are doing what you love -  

Many would be thrilled to see you back.

Bluehue     

indydebi Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 7:44pm
post #17 of 20

I check in now and then.  I am always in awe of the great cake pics that I find when I get in here!  Currently editing a book I have co-authored on teaching in the early years and my writing partner and I will be the opening speakers at a teaching conference at the end of October!  yep ... I AM doing what I love!  :-) 

costumeczar Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 12:43am
post #18 of 20

I haven't seen you on here lately either, @Bluehue  . What are you up to lately?

CatPoet Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 6:42pm
post #19 of 20

Indydebi: I used to help out at an youth forum in the food sections, yes we had brilliant kids  and we had total morons but most often  the balance was kept so you at least didnt want to  shut down the computer and hand  over the world to the hedgehogs.  

Except one week,  it started with the statement  I ate a tablespoon  of salt  and then threw up, why? Should I have eaten the citric acid instead?  and that isnt that bad but the week was followed by people trying to make black pudding out of their own blood,  claiming bee wax are made out of the juices of mashed up bees,   toasting bread leads to lead poisoning,  I'm vegan but I dont eat vegetables so what can I eat ,   how can I make a sperm buttercream cake, to the  last question  Why did my macaroni set on fire, the answer was she didnt add water, why didnt the girl add water because  she believed that adding water would put extra calories in the food.   We shut down the forum for two day,  rewrote the start up section, linked to  a combo health and poison government controlled page and so much more.


The youth can be interesting  and to think once we where the youth that make people wonder about our sanity.

shdvl Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 10:44pm
post #20 of 20

Indydebi, since I love all parts of the sugar arts I have had a child since 3rd grade state he wanted to be a pastry chef. In fact helps me with tasks finishing birthday cakes. I was disappointed he had to take 5 semesters of foods class in middle school because of lack of funding there was not anything he wanted to try more. The instructor did her best but never could completely change the class. He got bored and has not followed up in high school yet and he just started his sophomore year wednesday. Wish he had a instructor like you. You sound like a blast.

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