Thursday, December 15, 2011

Seminar Showcase

I have to apologize.

Earlier in the semester, I solicited your help with a seminar I was going to be teaching, and then never followed up to let you know how it went!

(The short answer: it was wonderful). But now that the semester is over, I'm back with a recap of the seminar's final event: cooking dinner for about 40 other dorm-mates and friends during an End-of-Semester Seminar Showcase.

In the weeks before the event, the students prepared a menu that captured all the food values we'd discussed throughout the semester: home cooking, the importance of family meal traditions, ethical meat consumption, honoring seasonal and local foods, labor practices oriented toward justice, and more. The menu:

Appetizer: Crostini with Feta-Spinach Dip and Hummus
Side Dish: Winter Cabbage Salad
Entree: Vegetarian and Meat Jambalaya
Dessert: Golden Cinnamon Pumpkin Bars

The students, in teams, made the shopping lists and planned the execution of their dishes. And it all came together wonderfully!

The main dish, the jambalaya, was the most difficult, but also probably the most satisfying dish to make. We had four pots going, two with seasonal vegetables and two with ethical meats. But despite all the effort, the rice would just not cook through! The photo on the bottom right of the grid below captures some of the desperation--the clock shows 6:05, even though our event was supposed to start at 6! The rice was still crunchy, so we stirred and added water and fretted and stalled our guests.


Despite all that stress, somehow it all came together, and my students pulled it off with grace. One of the other seminars contributed some spicy kimchi to our spread, so we all enjoyed a delicious and varied meal:

 
And for dessert: 


Each of the GreenHouse seminars had students present some of their work or projects from the semester. My seminar's showcase was the meal itself, but other groups--like the Bottle Biology class pictured below--showed things like decomposition columns and mini predator-prey displays and other cool results.


Students learned about so many things through the seminars: ecological restoration, vermicomposting, food values, bottle biology, the UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve, and more (see all course descriptions here).

But I was most proud of all of my own students, who managed the very difficult task of cooking a delicious, thoughtful meal for a room full of people!

This is what the GreenHouse is all about--learning and connecting in and out of the classroom. I'm so proud to be a part of it.

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