When you first see Ann Butler’s Kitchen a la Cart,™ it’s tough not to be blown away — or to see its many uses. It’s completely outfitted with everything you might need to cook with, and it can easily be wheeled into a classroom, or stationed in your backyard, or at tailgate parties. It not only has a childproof magnetic induction burner that turns off when the pan is lifted off the burner so that only the pan gets hot, but it also has a sink with hot and cold running water, an oven, and all the tools and small appliances you need to create delicious, nutritious meals throughout the school year.
How did Edible Education’s Ann Butler come up with this incredible product? Scroll down to find out. And don’t miss her 10 Tips for Teaching Kids to Cook.
BeInkandescent: What inspired you to create your Kitchen a la Cart?™
Ann Butler: In my commercial kitchen, one of the owners of the food trucks that uses our space to be compliant with the health ordinances taught a class to potential food truck owners. His goal was to generate business for his company, Joe The Cart Guy, which builds food trucks. I listened to his presentation and thought, wait a second … he could build me a food cart that I could send into schools. Now I’m trying to figure out how can I scale this so that Edible Education can not only be in central Virginia, but in Idaho, California, and Russia. The cart is what can get our information out there!
Be Inkandescent: You intend for schools around the country to buy the cart and the Edible Education curriculum. What’s your vision for how schools will use it?
Ann Butler: There are simple 3- to 4-minute videos that teachers can watch on EdibleEducationTV.com. We also provide the curriculum in electronic and printed form. A lot of teachers want to write in the book when they made a recipe, the students’ reaction to it, and how they will expand on the curriculum in their lesson.
The Edible Education curriculum is aligned with course standards, and we are getting them benchmark-aligned as well. The curriculum gives teachers of different subjects an opportunity to use food in their lessons. How hard is it to teach fractions when you’re making pizzas? Plus, students following a recipe learn teamwork — with 12 students around the cart and a teacher leading that group, the students following a recipe have to work as a team to be successful.
BeInkandescent: Along with reading recipes, following instructions, and sequencing, the cooking process develops 21st century workplace skills. You’re also enabling kids to be creative. And though you noted that it’s fine to “wing it” for many thing, baking is science — it’s chemistry.
Ann Butler: Creativity is crucial, and it is limited in our educational system. There is a kind of right and wrong in cooking, and the kids learn quickly what makes it wrong if they don’t follow the instructions. We have had students think salt was sugar, so they would add a cup of salt instead of sugar. They only make that mistake once.
Be Inkandescent: It’s empowering to cook, and to feed yourself well.
Ann Butler: It’s a funny thing about cooking and eating. We do it three times a day … you would think more of us would know how to do that for ourselves.
Be Inkandescent: Excellent point — and the perfect time for you to share tips on how to teach kids to cook.
What are Ann’s secrets? Scroll down to find out!
Ann Butler’s 10 Tips for Teaching Kids to Cook
- To easily extract an egg yolk, break the egg into a bowl. Use an empty plastic water bottle to suck up the yolks by slightly crushing the water bottle to create suction. Place the bottle directly over the yolk and release. Then you can “squirt” the yolk into a separate bowl, leaving the egg whites behind.
- Create stunning desserts with stylish glassware. Anything in a martini glass looks good — mashed potatoes, chocolate pudding, or a simple mixture of crushed graham cracker, cream cheese, and honey with fresh berries.
- Need an easy breakfast? Line silicone cupcake liners with 2 wonton wrappers and pour in some scrambled eggs with a little cheese and spinach — Wonton Mini Quiche. Bake until the egg is set, about 15 minutes — kids love them!
- A sweeter frog? Assemble green apples, green grapes, and mash some marshmallow eyes for a healthy version of a sweet frog.
- Top tomato, pumpkin, or squash soup with a spiderweb design using a pastry bag with Greek yogurt. No pastry bag? Snip off one corner of a Ziploc bag and “pipe” four concentric circles (circles of gradually larger sizes that all have the same center) into your bowl of soup. Using a regular dinner knife, start in the center of the bowl and “cut” your way out of the circles to the edge of the bowl to create a web effect.
- Be lazy and healthier on your next batch of potato salad — don’t peel the potatoes! Right under the skin is the most nutritious part of the vegetable, and no peeling equals saved time.
- Need a healthy snack in a hurry? Pop your own popcorn and experiment with different toppings — taco seasoning, Parmesan, or my favorite — drizzled honey with cinnamon and cranberries.
- Keep a clean kitchen — wash your sponges in the dishwasher once a week.
- Cut calories and increase versatility — use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Greek yogurt can also be used in smoothies, for cooking cream-based sauces, and in breakfast parfaits. Always purchase unflavored yogurt and add your own fruit and sweeteners.
- Need a more nutritious rice? Lightly steam cauliflower and pulse in a food processor — it’s the same consistency. Add your “rice” to pasta dishes, soups, and stews as a hidden fiber bonus.