Kids break the bread barrier

Science students cross into ranks of good cooks

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 
photoMaddy Brady, left, works with Alondra Ceja at Wy’east Middle School, mixing raspberries and sugar to make jam for their Thanksgiving dinners.

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Bread in a Bag recipe

1 cup white flour

1¼ teaspoons (½ package) of rapid-rise yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

⅔ cup warm water (120 degrees)

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon oil

Up to ½ cup white flour

Spray vegetable oil

In a heavy-duty gallon plastic bag with a good closure system, mix together ½ cup of the white flour, yeast, sugar and water.

Zip the bag. Knead and work the bag with the hands to blend the ingredients. Let the mixture rest on the table for 10 minutes.

Add to the bag: whole wheat flour, remaining ½ cup white flour, salt and oil.

Zip bag and knead, gradually adding 1∕3 cup flour, if needed, to make dough pull away from the sides of the bag.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough to form a ball that is smooth and elastic — about 2 to 4 minutes. You have kneaded enough when you see small blisters form on the dough.

Shape dough into a loaf. Grease a loaf pan with spray vegetable oil. Place the dough in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise 30 minutes in a warm place.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

photoHanna Whitcomb shows how her freshly made bread dough is doing Monday morning at Wy’east Middle School.

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Part of feeding your family can include giving hands-on CPR to a white ball of dough inside a zip-shut plastic bag.

That’s what it looked like — one key step, anyway — as more than 100 Wy’east Middle School students got a head start on their families’ holiday cooking.

Students in Erin Lark’s science classes made loaves of bake-at-home bread and raspberry jam for their own Thanksgiving bounty.

“Thanksgiving dinners can have a lot of fat and calories,” said seventh-grader Reilly Dale. There aren’t a lot of fat and calories in bread and jam, so, “It’s one side dish that can be healthy.”

Dale worked with classmate Kerri Honn on the project, which included at least four community organizations. Dale and Honn wrote a grant application to fund part of the project.

Monday’s bread-and-jam lab was overseen by educators from WSU Clark Country Extension, who brought their “bread in a bag” recipe.

Wy’east teacher Lark was waiting with the ingredients, which included 60 pounds of flour, about 50 pounds of frozen Oregon-grown raspberries, 25 pounds of sugar and a pound of yeast.

And in her 10:55 a.m. class, Lark had 14 pairs of hands eager to play (in the smashing/squishing/crushing sense) with their food.

Part of curriculum

“One of our science standards focuses on how lifestyle choices and the environment impact our body,” Lark said. “As we’ve been learning about the digestive and other body systems, we naturally talked about the food we put into our bodies.”

Monday’s program got an assist from the Washington State University Master Food Preservers program. Honn and Dale, the seventh-graders who helped get the project going, also served as advisers Monday.

“We’ve done this already, so we’re helping,” Honn said.

A big part of the breadmaking was done with that plastic bag, which doubled as a mixing bowl and a bread-kneading container. After squishing their bags with their fingers, the students set their dough on the table and kneaded it with the heels of their hands.

Each loaf was placed in a non-metallic bread pan, a little like the material used for a take-and-bake pizza pan.

Each filled bread pan and a jar of freshly made raspberry jam were set on a table near Ike, the classroom’s bearded dragon lizard.

Hanna Whitcomb said there is a lot to like about this sort of science project.

“It’s fun making it, and it smells really good” when it bakes,” she said.

But as far as sharing it at home, well …

“My parents are allergic to gluten, so I’ll eat it,” she said.

Food for the future

While Thanksgiving was the peg for Monday’s activity, the overall grant, $1,500 from the Vancouver Watersheds Alliance, will feed the hungry long after turkey leftovers are gone.

“We will be doing a garden next year,” Honn said.

Honn and Dale are planning a site on campus where teachers and students can team up to grow fresh produce. It will be supported by the Ellsworth Springs Neighborhood Association.

Much of the produce will go to classmates, through a couple of routes.

Some of the veggies are destined for the school cafeteria, which features a stir-fry station.

Other produce will go home with classmates, as “about 46 percent of students receive free and reduced meals at Wy’east,” Lark said.