Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Is lunch today a trick or a treat? Since chicken legs are one of the most popular dishes we serve, I'd say it's a super treat! We are also having sweet potato wedges, brown rice, and cinnamon apples (gotta eat up all those Vermont apples while the season winds down!)

Fall is moving along at BCS! We've got worm composting in the classroom, new soup recipes on the stove, and a new "thumbs up, sideways, or down" system for rating how we feel about new veggies served at lunch.

In other news, I recorded the radio ad for Hunger Free VT's 14 Free campaign at a station in South Burlington last week. It was so cool!
Here's a photo of me in the booth..

The ad is one minute long and will air on the Point in November and December!
I will post it here for folks to listen to as well.
Also, stay tuned for news on our November Thanksgiving Family Dinner, coming up soon already!

It's a new (school) year!

And there's a lot going on! Fresh from the success of our American Flatbread benefit bake (we made just under $1000!) we were honored to learn from Hunger Free VT
(formerly the VT Campaign to End Childhood Hunger) that our lunch program was chosen to represent Chittenden County in their 14 Free VT campaign!

From their website:

According to the US Census, Vermont has some of the most severe hunger in the country. For many of us this is hard to believe as hunger is often hidden in Vermont. How do we solve a problem that many of us can’t see or even comprehend?

At Hunger Free Vermont we see our vision for ending hunger and malnutrition played out every day, in each of Vermont’s 14 counties. Schools, child care centers, summer programs, senior centers, and community based organizations are ending hunger by not only providing healthful meals, but also by teaching participants about healthy eating in a way that will inform their eating habits in the long-term. Hunger Free Vermont is a home base of support, education, and advocacy to help make these programs a reality.

The 14Free video project features 1 meal program in each of Vermont’s 14counties and brings you the real-life success stories that are ending hunger and malnutrition in Vermont. 14 counties. 14 stories. 14 solutions.

Wow, right?

Some fantastic folks from Hunger Free VT came out to BCS to see our program in action and make a video about us for 14Free. We are honored, to say the least. And so excited for the premiere of the BCS video at our November Thanksgiving Family Dinner! And as if that wasn't enough, they have asked me (your humble lunch lady) to record a radio ad for the campaign next week! I'll post again to let folks know when to keep your ears open for me on the airwaves - crazy! And of course, yay BCS!!

In other news, our first family dinner of the new school year was great! Amazing turnout, new faces, and we hosted some UVM medical students who are researching childhood activity levels. Everyone helped make macaroni and cheese and green salad, and we enjoyed fresh apples picked at Shelburne Orchards. A yummy Fall meal with our fantastic families!

We'd like to give a HUGE thank you to City Market for their continued support of BCS and our family dinners. Thanks to them we had gorgeous local greens and spinach for our salad, and Cabot cheese for our macaroni! We love our community!

And there's more!

So far this school year we are busy with baking projects, growing seeds in the kitchen, and composting with WORMS!! And eating lots of healthy, delicious lunches of course. Our favorite new menu item.... black bean soup!! Recipe to follow in my next post!

Take care!


Thank you!

Our American Flatbread fundraiser was amazing. My family was one of the first to arrive and we could have stayed all night! Thank you to everyone who came out to support us and our great program. We sure have alot of friends and fans! It was incredible to connect with so many folks who love BCS and have been a part of the community in one way or another over the past 26 years!
Our fearless leaders Sarah (with her dad)...

and Jed (on the left)... enjoy the evening at Flatbread!

asian slaw
we are crazy for cole slaw this summer, and a few weeks ago I tried a new version of the red cabbage and carrot one we've been loving the most. I've had lots of requests so I'm (finally) posting the recipe here..

Serves 6-8

1 smallish head of red cabbage, shredded or chopped well
1 smallish head of green cabbage - napa would be really good
1/2 of one red onion diced small
6 or 7 medium sized carrots shredded or chopped into small, thin pieces
that's it for the veggies!

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 Tbsp finely shredded ginger
1/2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
whisk everything together!
pour it over the veggies and toss!
add black pepper to taste!

It's really good and if you can entice the kids to try it on the merits of its cool appearance, they will quite likely enjoy it and come back for more.

homemade croutons

The other day my friend and colleague Jackie brought me a beautiful loaf of bread that was just a little to hard for slicing and suggested I cut it up and make croutons. Neither one of us had ever done it, but she was sure that tossing them around in a little olive oil in a skillet would do the trick. So I did just that, along with some garlic powder and salt and pepper and oregano, and they came out DELICIOUS!! The best part.... the kids were picking them out of the salad bowl.
Hooray for new salad discoveries!

Happy Summer!

We need your support!

If you're reading this, you're likely a friend of BCS, and so I'd like to invite you to join us at American Flatbread in downtown Burlington for a simple, delicious fundraising event!
Flatbread for School Lunch - BCS Bake is happening tomorrow night from 5-10pm at the Burlington Hearth. A portion of the proceeds from all the flatbreads sold during the event ( eat in or take out) will benefit the Burlington Children's Space food program!
We are so grateful to American Flatbread for hosting us - and we can't wait to eat! Please stop by if you can, or order some food to go - you will be helping us fulfill our mission and fill hungry bellies all year long!

In other news... the Summer of Salads continues!
We have been enjoying all kinds of seasonal deliciousness at lunch. Fruit salad with nectarines and blueberries, chicken salad with dill, chopped salad with local greens, and even chef salad as a main dish, with ham, cheddar cheese, chick peas, and red grapes. The kids loved it, and so I pass the recipe ( though it's more of an idea than a recipe, really) on to you. I've made it at home twice for dinner on super hot nights and it's lovely to keep the kitchen cool, and still eat something satisfying.

Chef's Salad

(Serves 4)

1 head soft lettuce, like bibb, roughly chopped
About 4 cups crunchier greens, like romaine, chopped
A handful or two of spinach, also chopped

Arrange a good amount of the mixed greens on each of 4 plates

From there, just go crazy. Add as many veggies as you like, at least a cup of each, cut into bite sized pieces.
I used carrots, red cabbage, red onion, and cucumbers. Absolutely anything you like will work. Arrange little piles of the individual veggies on top of the greens.
Next comes the protein. I used chopped deli ham and cheddar cheese in little chunks, plus chick peas. Make sections of each. I also added halved red grapes for a little sweetness.
Serve with bread and butter, and a few choices of dressing. Salad for dinner!

Here we have a happy table of salad eaters... everyone pictured tried, and enjoyed, the greens!

Please come support our food program tomorrow night, and stay cool!

Summertime Family Dinner

It was a perfect afternoon, warm and breezy. Kids, families and teachers relaxed and ate outside on our mid-renovation playground.

We served cold sesame noodles, broccoli salad, and the most fantastic juicy watermelon, along with lots of fresh fruit and veggies brought by familes. The kids couldn't eat the berries and watermelon fast enough.
The broccoli salad disappeared as well...

And I've had lots of requests for the recipe, so here it is.

Broccoli Salad

2 lbs broccoli crowns, cut into manageable pieces, blanched ( dunked in boiling water for two to three minutes, just until it's bright green) and rinsed in cold water

1/2 cup of cooked bacon, chopped

1/4 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup plain yogurt - you can play with these amounts as much as you like. Use all mayo, all yogurt, more or less of each, it's just to taste, really.

1/2 cup red onion chopped fine

1 T salt

1 tsp pepper

2 T sugar or honey - these last three can be adjusted according to your taste as well.

Optional - a handful or two of any of the following:
raisins, craisins, almonds, walnuts, peanuts or sunflower seeds

Mix everythying together in a large bowl. Done! It's best after it's had an hour or so to chill in the fridge, and it doubles or triples easily. We made a ridiculous amount for the dinner. It's delicious and the bacon makes it a really satisfying dish.

It was a beautiful night, thanks to everyone who came to share dinner with us!

Family Dinner Tonight!

It's Family Dinner night tonight! I can't wait. In light of the hot steamy weather and the Summer of Salads, we're having broccoli salad, cold sesame noodles, watermelon, and bread.
I'm hoping to have some great photos of the food and families to post tomorrow, so be sure to check back - I'll post the recipe for the broccoli salad too.

Summer Solstice

The kitchen is a great place to be at BCS. But for a while now, our Blue Preschool has been eating lunch in their classroom instead. It worked for the kids because not moving back and forth between rooms meant less transitioning at an already tricky time of day. Now however, they are ready for a change of scenery. And I'm so happy to report that our new schedule of two serving times to allow everyone from both classrooms time to eat in the kitchen is working out well so far.
I love it for several reasons... I get to spend a little time with all four teachers instead of just 2, I get to spend time with all the kids and talk to them about the food and get more feedback, and it just makes the pace more relaxed. Serving is easier, and clean up is too. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have helpers like these...

In other news, we love SPINACH!

We have been eating it raw in salads, sauteed in olive oil, and baked into rice casserole. We can't get enough!

Family Dinner is coming up next week. We're having cold sesame noodles and my new obsession, cold broccoli salad. And some watermelon, and probably bread. We love bread!

Well THAT was fast!

I'm sorry for the long, long wait between posts. I've been really busy. I had a a baby!
Her name is Sadie Lou Simon and she's now about three months old.
Our fearless leader Sarah made her this great shirt - I took this photo when she was about two weeks old. Now she looks like this..

...asleep at the Old North End farmer's market!

It's been a huge adjustment for my whole family but we are all settling in nicely and I think I'm finally ready to get back down to Lunch Lady business in earnest!
Sooo....where to start?
Well let's see. I returned to lunch duty on May 10th after 6 weeks at home. My substitute, the lovely Hannah, stayed on with me for two extra days while I got my sea legs back. My comeback lunch was black bean and cheese quesadillas, tomato soup, corn, and apples.

Quesadillas are always a hit. And boy was I glad to be back!

The rest of May was cool, so we enjoyed some comforting cold weather favorites for a few weeks. Spaghetti and meatballs, and macaroni and cheese of course...

But after a few super hot days, everyone's tastes turned to lighter fare. One especially sweltering morning I made a cold three bean salad in a desperate last minute switch from baked pasta to avoid turning the oven on, and it was a welcome change.

And with that, my idea for the Summer of Salads began. A new salad every week, either as a main dish or a side, preferably using at least some ingredients grown locally, with the recipe posted here! Luckily, summer is now officially upon us and that means gardening at BCS, the neighborhood farmer's market, and lots of fresh stuff! Once again we are partnering with Grow Team One to sponsor our plot ay the Archibald Community Garden. The toddlers and preschoolers have been working on the two raised beds there and everyone is working hard to transform the playground and use every available inch for growing. In the works are squash and zucchini, tomatoes, herb pots, a sunflower house, and a raised bed alongside the kitchen growing beans and peas.
The preschoolers also brought some herb pots into the kitchen for me to use in our lunches!

Today we had egg salad sandwiches with chives from the kitchen pots, along with watermelon and carrots.

So to kick off the Summer of Salads, here's the recipe we used for Cold Bean Salad!

1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained
1 15 oz can of red kidney beans, drained
1.5 lbs of green beans, ends trimmed, cut into medium pieces, and blanched
( dipped in boiling water for a minute or two, they should still be pretty crunchy)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tsp garlic powder
Black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients, taste and adjust however you like. It gets better after chilling together for a few hours or even overnight. Great for lunch on a hot day!

I'm so glad to be cooking again! Especially since I'm lucky enough to have Sadie near enough to be able to visit me in the kitchen!
I'll be back soon with more recipes, and news about our family dinner scheduled for the 28th, and our upcoming American Flatbread fundraiser!

February family dinner! Welcome Jed!

February Family Dinner

Our February family dinner was wonderful! It was great to get our community together with so much to talk about and celebrate!
First of all, our wonderful program director Heather left BCS back in December to be home with her new baby girl and BCS alumni boy. They are all doing very well and have even been back to visit a few times. In January we welcomed Jed Norris as our new program director and couldn't be happier that he's part of our team. He has jumped into his new role with both feet bringing lots of new energy to BCS. But the best thing about Jed, at least from my kitchen-centered perspective, is his love of good food! He has spent time baking bread and making trips to our neighborhood bakery with the kids, which have resulted in "bakeries" popping up in classrooms all over the center, and lots of impromptu baking projects finding their way into the oven before and after lunch. He and I and Sarah have spent a fair amount of time discussing recipe books, chefs, and food blogs that we love, and he's always game to taste test the day's lunch, or have a go at the leftovers! So it was great to have lots of our families together to officially welcome Jed, and what better setting than a big dinner! Unfortunately he managed to avoid having his picture taken, but I plan to post one of him soon, hopefully with a loaf of his homemade bread.

We were also coming together to talk about Kindergarten registration in Burlington for all of our second year preschoolers. We had Victor Prussack - the coordinator of the Burlington magnet schools and all kindergarten registration - on hand to talk about the process and answer questions, as well as our Head Start Early Care Advocate and some other classroom support folks. My son Eli, who is now in first grade at the Integrated Arts Academy, was there as well, and was eager to tell everyone what a great time he's having there and how proud he is of his school!

The Menu

We had spinach lasagna, tossed salad with romaine lettuce, carrots and spinach, and bread that was made by us, and some donated by our great friends and amazing bakers down the street at Panadero.

It was great to see everyone enjoying a hot, comforting dish on a cold February night! The kids have really been embracing the green veggies lately as well.
Two of my favorite recent stories...
First, one preschooler who, in her first weeks at BCS, would pick green flecks of oregano or basil out of her food if she noticed it, was spotted at lunch happily munching on raw spinach from her salad with just a bit of dressing.
Second, a preschool boy returned from his dentist appointment and asked Sarah if she knew why his teeth were so shiny. Sarah agreed that his teeth looked wonderful, and guessed it was to match his earring, also impressively shiny. But the boy corrected her. "It's because I eat VEGETABLES!"

Jamie Oliver's wish: Teach every child about food!

A few months ago I was introduced to a series of lectures available online called TED talks.
From the website:

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.
The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Oxford, bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

The organization gave a challenge to several speakers in 2010 - tell us about your wish for the world. Jamie Oliver does that in the video below. Please take a few minutes to be educated, inspired, and charmed by a guy who really cares about how all kids eat and interact with their food.

2011 is here... let's catch up!

Well, the holiday season overwhelmed me as usual, and I didn't post nearly as much as I'd hoped to.. i.e. at all. Shame on me! But, I have set a goal for 2011 that I know I can meet.
I will take plenty of photos of lunch preparation and consumption with my (sort of) fancy new phone, and include the pics in weekly posts with at least one recipe from that week's menu.
Sound good? Good!
Before we start with this past week's photos though I want to mention our fantastic holiday dinner that took place way back in November. It really made the holidays come together for me, and it brought the BCS community together in ways we couldn't have imagined while planning it. First of all, the turnout was incredible. We estimated that at the busiest point of the night we had about 150 folks eating and mingling in the Senior Center! Sarah and Lourie braved the kitchen in the early morning to prep and roast three enormous turkeys - which turned out absolutely perfect and delicious. We had help from wonderful parents as the day went on, boiling and mashing potatoes, slicing bread, carving turkey, setting tables, chopping fruit, raw veggies, and setting out all of the incredible dishes that families brought with them to share - hot soup, salads, cheese platters and a mountain of heavenly desserts.
Everyone ate more than heartily, and we still had enough to send leftover packages home with several lucky folks. The spirit of community and love was truly in the air, and we are already planning how to make it even better next year!
But first we have a year's worth of regular old family dinners to enjoy! Our next is coming up on February 10th. I'm making veggie lasagna and we're talking about kindergarten registration! My husband will be there to take lots of photos so we'll have a great post about it in a few weeks.

For now, let me say how happy I am to be back in the kitchen! I am lucky, lucky, lucky to love my job so much that I was actually looking forward to returning after the long holiday break. How could I not look forward to puttering around in the bright BCS kitchen, chopping, slicing and bubbling, turning this...

and this...

into this,

and this!
Sometimes simple soup and a sandwich is just the thing, isn't it?
And so, here is my recipe for what I've decided to call "It's So Tasty! Vegetable Soup", based on
the exclamation of one of my toddler friends upon eating it last week. This is a very easy, basic, kid-friendly soup, and can make use of either whatever fresh veggies you have lying around that need to be used, or frozen veggies that have been hanging around the freezer. At BCS the kids like it best served with grilled cheese sandwiches or cheese quesadillas!

It's So Tasty! Vegetable Soup

this recipe will make plenty for a family of four, and can be stretched with a little extra broth or water and salt/pepper/garlic if necessary...

1 lb pasta cooked according to package directions, drained and put back in dry cooking pot with a bit of butter or margarine to keep it from sticking ( semolina or whole wheat, any fun shape will do)

1 small yellow onion, chopped

3 good sized carrots peeled and sliced thinly

1 15 oz bag of frozen peas, defrosted

some olive or vegetable oil

6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste ( for this size batch approx a teaspoon of each is a good start)

Put a large pot on medium heat, add a few teaspoons of oil and the onion and stir it around for a few moments, until it starts to smell good. Add a few shakes of salt and pepper if you like, then add the carrots. Stir them around for a few minutes, being careful not to let them stick or brown up too much on the bottom. When the oil seems absorbed and the veggies are hot, add the broth, turn the heat down to medium/low, and let the pot simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the carrots are quite soft.
Add the peas at this point, and turn the heat up a bit so everything heats up evenly. After about 5 minutes add as much or as little of the pasta as you'd like, and the salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

****This is the very basic recipe. Please note that you can use pretty much any vegetable you like in addition to or in place of the ones suggested here. I often like to stir some fresh chopped spinach in a few minutes before serving at the end so it just wilts, or add fresh or frozen corn, little cubes of potato, thinly sliced red cabbage, green beans.... whatever you and your kids like. Red or white beans also work very well ******

Take care and come back next week!