Teen Central is Cooking with Curiosity

By Amanda Moses

Cooking takes patience and the ability to use all of your senses. Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman developed “Cooking with Curiosity” for members of Spring Creek Teen Central to help them learn the fundamentals of cooking. She will be instructing them on applying critical thinking and analytical skills when preparing food, which she believes will help them become better cooks.  

Prior to even picking up a frying pan, Roytman hopes to show students how to create a focused mindset that allows them to reflect and experiment, while also maintaining creativity and exploration. She wants her students to understand that it is okay to make mistakes because we can learn from them.

“Embrace failures as learning opportunities,” Roytman said. She underscored the importance of when to challenge yourself and when to ask for help. She shared that there are times when we don’t meet a set goal and are hard on ourselves because of the end result.  She assured them that it’s okay to ask someone with more knowledge and experience for help. This will allow you to succeed the next time.

Roytman hopes that these cooking lessons will show teens the difference between a mindset and a habit of mind. “A mindset is a way of thinking. A habit of mind is a practiced approach to thinking through problems,” she said.

For example, Roytman will show the teens how to make it a habit to use all of their senses when they make an observation. She explained that there are five basic senses: sight, touch, sound, smell, and taste. Using these senses are helpful tactics both inside the kitchen and when dealing with daily problems.  While cooking you can use your sense of sound to hear if the inside of a vegetable is ripe by shaking it. You can taste it to see if it is the flavor you want. Is the aroma emitting from it tantalizing or nauseating? Look for any bruising or coloring to determine its level of freshness.  These are steps to take before, during, and after cooking.

You need to be aware of your surroundings in the kitchen. Use those same senses to choose your food as you would while cooking it. Does it smell like something is burning? Are you unsure of how to prepare a dish? If you are unsure of something, ask an adult for help.

For the first activity the teens chose one  of the habits of mindsets that Roytman spoke about  and then they  drew it.  This activity will help determine if the teens comprehended the concepts by having them write two sentences  summarizing that habit.

Roytman believes that before the teens learn to cook, they must learn how to discipline themselves to observe, keep an open mind, be creative, ask for help when needed, and learn from their mistakes.

Photo courtesy of Edsel Little via Flickr