WEST Kitchen – Week 1

Written by
Diana Dutcher
on September 17, 2020

We had a wonderful time getting to know each other this week and finding out about favorite summer memories, reason for taking the cooking class, identifying specific skills the students want to focus on this year, and sharing our favorite foods.

We also talked about procedures for the year and how the Kitchen class will work with Covid precautions in place. Please make your families aware of WEST’s rules regarding the use of masks/face coverings, caring for personal belongings, water bottles/drinking fountain use, and social distancing. It’s very important for EVERY family to participate with these guidelines since we want to be respectful of MELA and Open Door and keep our place this shared space.

Most importantly, WEST would like to remind everyone that WE ALL NEED TO WEAR A MASK OR SHIELD IN COMMON AREAS. This includes passing in the halls between classes, using the restroom, and using the stairwells. When we say everyone, we mean EVERYONE. Unless the person is going to faint or worse due to the mask or face shield, they need to have one on.

As I shared with the students, it’s impossible for us to create social distance in the kitchen so we will maintain standard practice of wearing masks or face shields in the kitchen and when working with food.

We didn’t have to time to get the students hands-on experience today so I did a demo of a quick salad with dried fruit, feta cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar & olive oil for dressing. Here is the recipe if you want to recreate it. It was delicious! Ask your student about the ingredients and their experience tasting it. The pineapple balsamic vinegar was a new taste for everyone; we enjoyed it.

We learned about this history of salads, how they got their name, and popular places in America for lettuce farms. As we work with different ingredients throughout the year, I want the students to start learning about where the food comes from. Having a greater global awareness is important; we want to take mystery out of how food shows up at the grocery store to create more informed consumers in the future.

Leafy green salad with fruit
Serves: 6-8 as a side, 2-3 as a main course
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes


  1. Chop 1 head of romaine
  2. Wash and dry lettuce in a salad spinner
  3. Spread lettuce on a platter
  4. Wash and cut fresh fruit; spread evenly on top of the lettuce
  5. Optional: cook and chop protein/meat to spread on top (chicken, steak, fish, shrimp)
  6. Optional: spread dried fruit on top (we used dried cherries today)
  7. Optional: top with nuts or something crunchy like wonton strips or croutons
  8. Dress with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. We used pineapple infused white balsamic vinegar from Love that Olive* and Greek olive oil.
  9. Turn salad to incorporate the dressing and serve immediately.*I always buy good quality ingredients so I can use very little and add a ton of clean flavor. Love that Olive imports their delicious vinegars and olive oils from Italy and Greece and you can always count on the quality and flavor.

Bring next week
Cutting boards, knives – chef’s knife and paring knife (and an apron is optional). Please arrive on time to our meeting spot OUTSIDE as we will head in to the kitchen ASAP; we need as much time as possible. If it is raining, we meet inside the double doors at the entrance to the sanctuary.

Homework *IMPORTANT*
Get your knives sharpened! A super sharp knife is actually the safest tool in the kitchen. Dull knives create hazards. Lunds & Byerly’s offers FREE KNIFE SHARPENING at the butcher counter. They keep them overnight so plan ahead. They take 3 knives at a time and you can bring 3 every single day if you wish. You may bring any size flat edged knife; they do NOT sharpen serrated knives.

Watch these videos on how to cut specific fruits so we will be ready to make fruit salad with our knife skills class next week.

Basic knife skills

Prevent knife injuries by following these steps:

  • Place a non-slip mat or wet paper towel under the cutting board
  • Grip the knife properly – firm grip, finger and thumb at the back of the knife, wrap hand securely around it
  • Make “the claw” with your fingers on the other hand. Curl the fingertip in
  • Don’t chop straight down, use a rocking motion – “the wave”
How to cut a cantaloupe
How to hull a strawberry
How to cut a watermelon into “watermelon fries”
How to cut a mango
Written By
Diana Dutcher

I am an educator and entrepreneur who is passionate about non-toxic living. I get to be with my five kiddos (8, 6-year old twins, and 4-year old twins) in the mornings and teach in the afternoons or evenings. It’s a beautiful abundant life 💖

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