Snowpocalypse is surely upon us; in less than 24 hours, almost 20 inches of snow has fallen in Washington, D.C.. The terrain of our city street—cars, chain link fences, and boarded houses—is buried and softened by inches of fluffy white stuff. My daughters and I have accepted that venturing from our home is not likely for the next few days, and have resigned ourselves to watching movies, chatting, reading, and, of course, cooking. In less than 24 hours, we have managed to cook up a storm that almost matches the one outside, pureeing hummus from scratch, baking a vegan chocolate cake with decadent chocolate “butter” cream frosting, and topping linguini with vegan alfredo sauce. All for the very first time.
And while I am guilty of actually praying for an occasional snow day—sometimes to catch up on grading and other times just to get some much needed rest and relaxation– I was not looking forward to this snow storm or the days off that we are likely to have behind it.
Snowpocalypse 2010 threatens to disrupt my all time favorite part of the school year. Institutionally, Maret School has declared it Intensive Study Week (ISW), a four-day week leading up to President’s Day during which we, the teachers, lead projects that we proposed–projects that can have absolutely nothing to do with what we teach regularly. Take me, for example, I am a humanities teacher who instructs courses in both American Literature and African American Literature. My other passion, though, centers on ethnic vegan cuisine. Researching it, preparing it, teaching it, and, most delicious of all, eating it. So for the past three years, I have proposed an ISW called Vita’s Vegan Kitchen, a four-day, ethnic vegan cooking workshop of sorts, and for the past three years, it has been a hit. Two years ago, eleven students, including three boys, joined in the fun. Since then, boys have shied away from Vita’s Vegan Kitchen, mostly because of not wanting to be the only one. Last year, eight young women in grades 10 through 12 cooked up a storm. This year I’ll have the pleasure of working with thirteen young women, ranging from 9th to 12th grades.
What I enjoy most about ISW is that I am doing what I absolutely love. I love designing the curriculum, I love planning the grocery list, and I love the grocery shopping, especially the looks on store clerks’ faces when I roll up to the counter with two cart-loads of groceries. All of this food is necessary because we cook a vegan breakfast item or two or three, plus an ethnic vegan cuisine of the day for 10 to 14 adventurous, but hungry people. So the week might look something like, Monday, Vegan Sweet Potato Muffins, fresh fruit, tea, and juice, and Vegan Soul Food; Tuesday, Vegan Blueberry Pancakes, stewed apples, tea, and juice, and Vegan Mexican Cuisine; Wednesday, Vegan Cinnamon Rolls, fruit and juice and Indian Cuisine, and Thursday, Vegan “Buttermilk” Biscuits, assorted jams, and Italian Cuisine.
Part of the front-end work includes making a major packet for the students, including resources like “What is a Vegetarian?,” What is a Vegan?.” “How to stock your kitchen for a Vegetarian/Vegan diet?,” a Suggested Reading List, and lots of recipes for the dishes that we prepare, and more. Yesterday, I spent four hours running errands for Vita’s Vegan Kitchen. Stop #1, Whole Foods, where my daughters and I spent almost two hours shopping mainly for spices, ingredients for breakfast dishes and the Soul Food cuisine. We also ventured to Staples to find folders in an assortment of colors for the students to put their packets in. Then, it was off to My Organic Market, aka MOM’s, for additional items and then to CVS for detergent and dishwashing liquid to make everything sparkling for the students.
We finally made it home around 5:30, emptied the car of all groceries, prepared ourselves something to eat, put all of those groceries away, while watching the snow fall outside. I pray my favorite week of the year is not cancelled or otherwise disrupted by what The Washington Post has deemed Snowpocalyse. My students and I have lots of cooking to do in the week to come.
Check out Vita’s Vegan Kitchen from previous years: 2007 at http://www.myspace.com/vitasvegankitchen and 2008 in the following album: