Jamie Gibson, family and consumer sciences teacher at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Olathe, knows how to inspire her students with delicious recipes and imparts life-long cooking skills. She and her husband, Drew, enjoy many of those same quick and healthy recipes at home.
Q: Where did your inspiration for cooking come from? When did you discover that you enjoyed teaching foods?
A: My love of cooking came from my mom, and we still share a common bond about cooking and recipes.
I studied finance in college and thought I would work with stocks or finances. After a few years, I decided I wanted to teach personal finance but discovered that personal finance was a part of the family and consumer sciences curriculum. I went back to college to study family and consumer sciences and soon discovered that I adored teaching and especially liked teaching foods and cooking skills.
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Today, I teach Creative Foods and Exploring Foods at the middle-school level and love what I do.
Q: What do you hope your students take away from these classes?
A: Cooking is super important, and I want them to be comfortable in the kitchen and to have fun. I hope to give them the building blocks so they have the skills to go out and do it on their own.
I encourage them to taste foods they might not ordinarily try so they can move beyond chicken nuggets. I hope they learn that cooking is not a chore, and I want them to go home and cook.
Q: What foods do you teach in your classes?
A: For our vegetable unit we prepare the Veggie Stir Fry. For many, this recipe means they will taste new foods, and I want them to discover that foods are not “bad” but may be different than what they have tasted before. In this case, the colorful combination and the crisp-tender vegetables in the stir-fry are inviting and taste great.
In other labs, we often make oatmeal raisin bars, and I can almost predict their reaction, but I know that if they taste it they will enjoy it.
We have Muffin Madness in March, with a winning bracket. For this the students make a healthy substitution in a plain muffin recipe, such as using whole-wheat flour or adding shredded carrots or zucchini. The muffins are judged by other teachers, and the tastiest move up the bracket until we have a winner.
We also have Cupcake Wars near the end of the semester. We now have the equipment so the students can make videos of their food, similar to what they see on social media, and that adds to the fun.
Q: Do you prepare similar foods at home?
A: I am vegetarian, and my husband is gluten-free. Recipes like the Veggie Stir Fry are perfect for us as it can be adapted to contain chicken for my husband or tofu for me. I cook all day but still love to go home and cook. My day is busy, so I want dinner to be quick and healthy.
Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published 11 cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at pluggedintocooking.com . Email them at KCComeIntoMyKitchen@gmail.com
Veggie Stir Fry
Makes 4 servings
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces, or shrimp, shelled and deveined, or extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt, to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 (8-ounce) package sugar-snap peas
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon chili sauce, such as Sriracha
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
2 green onions (both green and white portions), chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
8 ounces brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat noodles, cooked according to package directions
Select your choice of protein, cut or shell as directed and pat dry.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, shrimp or tofu to the pan. Season to taste with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Remove the cooked protein to a plate and set aside.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the carrots, bell pepper and sugar-snap peas to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until brightly colored and crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. (Do not overcook or the veggies will be mushy.)
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by whisking together the lime juice, chili sauce, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil.
Add the green onions, cilantro, cooked protein and sauce to the pan with the cooked veggies. Toss to combine and heat through. Serve the Veggie Stir Fry over the cooked grain.
Tip: If you are not a fan of the veggies listed in the recipe, feel free to swap in your favorites.