Week 3: Fruit Pancakes

I’m so pleased to say our pancake endeavor went smoothly. We had a full class again, but this week we had just enough time to get everything done, eaten, AND discussed. At this point, the kids all shout out the 5 Steps to Cook Anything at the beginning of class and ask questions about just how custom they’ll be allowed to make their meals. It’s safe to say the kids are all having lots of fun, and so are we adults!

This week, we made pancakes, full of fruit (sliced bananas or peaches) and topped with a homemade fruit sauce (blueberry or strawberry). Managing two recipes at once meant the kids had to divide and conquer more than in our previous classes, which seemed to make each of them take even more pride in their assigned task. They also had to really measure their ingredients for the first time. It was great seeing them so intentional as they carefully inspected their measures, both in particular things like flour and baking powder, but also in less specific ingredients like lemon zest and berries. To them, every step is really important, and it’s really cool to watch.

As they scooped their batter onto hot frying pans and piled fruit on top, the kids’ eyes lit up with excitement over what would come next. While showing them how to make the batter at the beginning of class, I made a comment about a pinch of cinnamon adding a lot of extra flavor, and so many of them added it at every turn – first in the batter, then on top of each formed pancake, then again after topping them with fruit sauce at the end! I guess that goes to show how much they’re listening…

Quite a few pancakes burned, as did a few fingers (nothing too bad), and both were good learning experiences, and the kids learned to remedy their approach as they went on. This is something we focus a lot on every week, and this recovery stuff continues to be an important skill for them to develop.

At the end of class, Val shared a personal story about moving away for school, overcoming obstacles, and eventually finding her stride. Some of the kids actually shared goals they have for their futures, and we talked about some of the steps in their own recipes they’ll need to follow to make them happen. The hope of Kitchen Possible is that as these kids’ confidence level grows in the kitchen, it also seeps into their everyday approach to the world. So these kinds of conversations are both exciting and really important.

This week we also had a chance to celebrate Brenda’s birthday! I whispered to a few kids that we’d stack some pancakes and top them with candles, and I asked them to save any extra pancakes or sauces they had leftover. And from there, their sweetness overwhelmed me. One team contributed their very first successful pancake, complete with a banana smiley face. Another saved blueberry sauce for the “cake” and another so proudly contributed their favorite tiny pancake. To finish it off, many of the kids sprinkled the creation with cinnamon (because, see above). We all sang Happy Birthday, and it was, so far, one of my favorite Kitchen Possible moments.

Life Lessons from the Kitchen:

1. More often than not, the first round of pancakes in the kids’ pans ended up less than awesome, either burnt to a crisp, totally misshapen, or a gooey mess. While this is no new phenomenon in the pancake process, it’s also not a new one in our everyday processes of taking on new things. As one of the girls in class said tonight, “It’s just the FIRST ONE! You can make lots more, don’t worry!” New things don’t always end up exactly as we planned, and sometimes it takes an extra pancake or two before we really find our stride.

2. During our post-pancake discussion, some of the kids shared that they’d felt nervous, even a little afraid to flip their pancakes. This offered a great opportunity to talk about taking risks. Most great recipes require a certain level of comfort with risk, both in the kitchen and outside of it The important lesson here is that if you let the nervousness stop you from flipping your pancake... you’ll end up without a pancake at all. Besides, a little nervousness makes success taste even better in the end!

Kitchen Possible takes place at Gads Hill Center for youth in their Junior Building Leaders program.