Middle School Students Cook Up New Kitchen Skills

The Family and Consumer Science classes at George Fischer Middle School may only be 39 minutes long, but many useful life skills and lessons are packed into each one.

During the recent “Stromboli Lab,” eighth-grade students in Marie Taylor’s class perfected the skills needed to produce some amazingly tasty results. The stromboli cooking lesson is a tradition that dates back many years in the Family and Consumer Science classes.

Student cuts and serves slices of stromboli

“Some of these recipes are just tried and true recipes that work for our budget, a 39-minute class and the student skill level,” said Taylor. “It’s a cooking class, and what that means is that you learn how to make a basic recipe, but then you can take this recipe home and put what you want in it.”

The students worked together in small teams, assigning different tasks to each member – from prepping the workstation and ingredients to final kitchen cleaning.

One student measured cheese; another rolled out the dough. A different student measured and sliced the pepperoni; another measured and sprinkled the seasoning. Then one student rolled the filled dough into a stromboli shape and scored the top.

Once the stromboli was in the oven, the students got to work on the various cleaning and table setting tasks.

The students not only learned important skills such as oven safety and proper handling of sharp kitchen utensils, such as a pizza cutter, but they also learned an important lesson about how to thoroughly clean a wooden rolling pin or other wooden utensils without causing the tools to warp.

“Putting it to practice is what’s really important,” said Taylor. “Learning it here is great but taking it and running with it and having it be your own is really great.”

“We have received so many emails from parents about our students cooking at home,” said teacher Alice Holzmann. “One thing that the pandemic did was provide more opportunities for families to cook together. The amount of quality items that the kids are making at home is amazing."

As the different oven timers rang across the room, signaling that the cooking was complete, it was time to cut, serve and enjoy the delicious product.

“It’s good!” said student Cassidy Crosby. “It was better than the cookies we made.”

“Really good,” agreed student Alessandro Olivapotenza.

With the students mastering the skills needed in this lab, eyes are already on the next – bigger – meal.

“Our next lab has a lot more moving parts than this lab, but I feel like you are ready for it now because you are operating as a team,” Taylor said to the class. “You are talking to each other and doing your different jobs. You are much more organized, and your cleaning has gotten much better, so you should be great.”

Next up for our budding chefs: Chicken parmigiana!