Lo’s Kitchen: Oreos and Life Lessons.

February 21, 2012

Partly to force a niche for myself and partly to keep some of the hooligans I mentor busy (good busy, that is, because 13-year-olds who entertain three older boyfriends at the same time is not good busy), I started up a weekly cooking workshop out of the Mi Esperanza kitchen.

My initial vision was simply to spend some time with the girls while doing something concrete and productive. I also thought that an added perk could be that maybe, just maybe they’d learn a skill or two in basic survival hand-to-mouth cooking.

Of course, I had to start out fun. I hardly believe that “Eggs: Three Ways” would be worthy of attracting a faithful crowd of teenagers, so I gathered the ingredients for some truly chocolatey Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies. Naturally, this recipe was well-received, but culinary capabilities were not the only things honed that afternoon.

As it turns out, these workshops may be a lot more comprehensive than I anticipated. Check out the top ten lessons from Lo’s Kitchen this week.

1. Punctuality and Discipline. Things got off to a bit of a rocky start as the girls ambled in ten minutes late, fifteen minutes late, and even 45 minutes late. That quickly became rule #1. I don’t care if this is Latin America or what, you will come to class on time.

2. Basic Hygiene and Public Health. Wash your hands and stop licking your fingers, dang it. Also, stop rubbing things like plates and spatulas on your face. Fixing your unwashed hair and/or rolling around on the ground mid-cookie baking is not okay either. Go wash your hands. Again.

3. Math Skills. Learn your fractions. After repeatedly asking me how much flour and sugar they should add to the bowl and me demanding they read the recipe I printed out for each student, I discovered by their continued blank faces that these seventh and eighth graders still had not mastered their fractions. They didn’t know what 1/2 was! I know it is all about the metric system here, but still, yikes! I think the scariest part of all is that I, of all people, taught a math lesson. Double yikes.

4. Reading Skills. Look at the exact combination of letters and do not continue to guess at the words. Go home and read some books!

5. Social Interaction. Treat each other with respect. Calling someone stupid pig simply because they are left-handed is stupid and piggish. Secondly, stop tattling. I’m not your mother. Thirdly, for the love of God, you are old enough to know about taking turns. After all, sharing is caring.

6. Manners and Etiquette. Say please and thank you. I WILL have all my OANSA and La Ruta kids at least master this before I leave.

7. Cooking Skills. Don’t handle buttery batter in excess. I repeat, STOP TOUCHING THE DOUGH. Put it on the baking sheet and move on. It will become soft and melty, and your cookies will come out as hard, flat discs. Also, gross (refer back to Lesson 2).

8. Responsibility. Clean up after yourself. Wash the dishes, sweep the floor, and wipe down the table. Put your tools away nicely. Take care of your things so you can use them again the next time and the time after that.

9. Self-worth is real. Everyone, even you, is good at something, if not, many things. Regardless of the mistakes you have made or the harsh words people spit in your face daily or how inadequate you ever feel, you have immeasurable value. And I love you.

10. Moderation. Don’t eat all the cookies in one sitting. Leave some to take home and enjoy later. Oh, who am I kidding…

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