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Kitchen Classroom

Welcome to the Kitchen Classroom!


BA University of Missouri-Kansas City, English Language and Literature
AAS Johnson County Community College, Chef Apprenticeship

Andrea Deibler, Kitchen Director

Brenda Lijewski, Kitchen Support

David Myers, Kitchen Support

Andrea Deibler

Brenda Lijewski

David Myers, Kitchen Support


Classroom Highlights


This week I switched up the kitchen schedule a bit to give the kitchen crew time in the morning to work solely with the lower elementary students. The kitchen is only so big, and the afternoons can get a bit hectic in there, trying to find room for six children with widely varying ability levels. I found, through this experiment, that the lunch service runs a lot smoother when we have a few extra (smaller) pairs of hands in the morning. It’s so rewarding for me to see how capable, willing and interested the children are in learning to cook, and the pride they take in doing a tangible and necessary job like feeding the school.


It seems that after holiday break more families start signing up for lunch, making mid-winter a very busy time for the kitchen. Maybe it’s the heartier fare, or the fatigue of making lunches at home, but we really start to hit our stride in January. In addition to the large quantity of lunches, Nadine and Sandra’s classes start swimming this month, which requires us to help make some hearty snacks for swimmers. The kids have also started helping us collect our scraps of food that we then take to a local farm, Anavery Farms on Secor Rd, who use our kitchen food waste to feed to their pigs.


Fall Harvest Festival Recipes:

Butternut Squash & Kale Salad
This is the recipe for the salad, I subbed Apple for the squash and left out the cranberries, but it’s really delicious as written also.
Serves 5 or 6

  • 1 lb butternut squash
  • 5 TBS olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed
  • 1⁄4 cup apple cider
  • 2 TBS cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS maple syrup
  • 1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1⁄2 cup pepitas
  • 1⁄8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Peel the squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into 1/2-inch slices. Toss the squash with 2 TBS olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place in a single layer onto a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until the squash can be pierced by a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together 1 TBS olive oil, cinnamon, brown sugar and a dash of salt. Add the pepitas, then toast the mixture in a shallow pan just until the pepitas start to get tan and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider, cider vinegar, maple syrup, the remaining 2 TBS oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. When ready to serve, slice the kale into bite-size pieces. Drizzle the dressing, to taste, over the kale (you won’t need all of the dressing) and mix thoroughly to coat. Add the cranberries to the kale and toss.
  6. Plate the dressed kale, top with the squash, then finish with the toasted pepitas.

Vegetarian bean and squash chili

  • 3 cups soaked beans, red white or black
  • 6 cups roasted squash mash
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2T chili powder
  • 2T cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • One onion, small diced
  1. To make the squash mash, cut three acorn squashes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the flesh with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast skin side up for 30 minutes at 400 degrees or until very soft. Scoop out the flesh and set aside for the soup. You can do this a day ahead.
  2. Cook the beans separately until tender. Save them in their pot liquor and set them aside.
  3. In a large pot, sauté the onions until translucent in a large glue of oil.
  4. Mince the garlic, add to the onions and cook one minute.
  5. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook for another minute. If it looks dry add a bit more oil.
  6. Add the squash mash, tomatoes and beans, by lifting them out of their liquid with a slotted spoon. \
  7. Add the bean cooking water until you have a chili consistency, cook for 20 minutes on low.

Nadine's Class 10/12/22

My favorite time of year for cooking is the fall. Though the bounty of summer is waning, the warmth of an oven takes the chill out of the early morning kitchen, making me more in the mood to bake brioche, braise a pork shoulder or roast a big mess of vegetables. This week, the students in Nadine’s class helped me do just that, by rolling homemade brioche rolls for our bbq pulled pork sandwiches, peeling gobs of carrots for our veggie sides and smashing more garlic than they probably have ever seen. If you need a pro tip for home, have your first and second graders smash and peel a few heads of garlic for the week, and keep the cloves in the fridge ready to go. In addition to our regular lunches, we had a very busy week preparing for our annual Harvest Fest, back after a two year COVID hiatus. That project for me required all hands on deck, stripping and washing 5 cases of kale, scooping tons of roasted squash from their skins for our 20 gallons of veggie and squash chili, and scooping and baking over 300 corn muffins. At the end of the week, the prep team consisting of ten upper and lower elementary students, special guest kitchen sub Jeanette Kania and I all went to Moomer’s to help make the celebratory pear butter and cinnamon ice cream for the festival. By the end of the week, my body was tired but my heart was full and ready to lean into the cozier months ahead.

Jamie's Class 9/28/22

I am so excited that school has started and everyone is getting back in the swing of things.  I started working at TCH last year in the middle of the semester, so I didn’t get a chance to choose our kitchen groups, and because of COVID the groups were not a mix of upper and lower elementary. The kitchen dynamic can make a huge impact on how well we succeed at the rather large task of feeding the whole school everyday. This year I feel like I am getting my feet under me a bit more, and I’ve realized how essential the upper elementary students are for the kitchen classroom to function. Last week, Jamie’s students were able  to work with the youngest students on very important and fundamental jobs like washing veggies, smashing garlic and measuring rice. When they didn’t have someone to supervise, they helped peel, chop, dice and slice 200 lbs of veggies and 200 lbs of fruit over the course of the week. I’m grateful Kitchen Classroom has returned to the way it was designed, with older students mentoring younger students, which builds confidence and life skills for everyone in the classroom.