What’s Cooking?

The school garden is put to rest for the winter. We do some indoor gardening projects in the gardening off-season but the cold days of winter bring us mostly inside to our Kitchen Classroom. Our students LOVE to cook. Cooking with students is very fun but It takes planning, a positive attitude, thought and organization to succeed.

Our goal for cooking with students is to use seasonal fresh produce, make food students can replicate themselves at home and to give them confidence in the kitchen. We start with the basics of how to wash a dish, clean a kitchen, practice proper hygiene, safely use kitchen tools and to work together as a team. 

There is a wide variety of kitchen experience among our students and all experience levels are welcome. Mistakes are okay, our purpose is to learn. We find most students are interested, engaged and eager to try whatever they make in the kitchen. 

How do we pull this off? Our Kitchen Classroom has 7 small kitchens and one large demonstration kitchen. Our Kitchen Classroom is old (1970s old!) but in working order. We assign 4 students to each kitchen. We find the most manageable number of students to cook with is  between 20 – 24 students, so this would be 5 – 6 groups. Each student is assigned a number 1 – 4 and is assigned a task based on that number. They are all responsible to work together as a team to prepare, cook and clean.

We have clear recipes and instructions and lay out expectations before the lesson begins. Our Kitchen Rules are: Show Respect, Follow Directions, Work Together, Practice Safety. We have made some delicious food so far this year and look forward to a winter filled with our tried and true recipes along with trying out some new lessons.

Please visit our Recipes section for some examples of what we’ve been cooking.

You can also follow us on social media for updates on our latest projects and recipes. 

Follow us on  Instagram @dexterfarm2school

Follow us on Facebook: Dexter Farm to School

Discovering Nature

My very favorite thing about being in the garden with students is what we discover while we are gardening. Our garden is an incredible ecosystem for living creatures waiting to be discovered and a fun way to learn and encourage a love of nature.

We have found many interesting things this growing season. This summer and sunny fall students found Tomato Hornworms. Tomato Hornworms have impressive camouflage and are difficult to find. The large caterpillars look almost fake and make even the most brave among us a little squeamish.

The students love finding earthworms, roly polys, spiders, aphids and ladybugs. We saw hummingbirds, bees and a variety of butterflies enjoying our pollinator beds, including monarchs whom we grow milkweed for. 

We found a tiny green frog on a sunflower leaf. Its camouflage was so incredible we didn’t notice it until it jumped. We had a well fed rabbit living under the classroom porch who seemed to have little fear and we had to remind students about the difference between domestic and wild animals.


This October, we had Cabbageworms  munching on our rutabaga leaves. A 5th grade student was fascinated with the small green worms. She collected many of them on a large rutabaga leaf, folded it and put them in her jacket pocket to keep. We had to talk her into letting the Cabbageworms go, explaining that they wouldn’t make good pets or thrive in her jacket pocket.

When pulling out marigolds this fall we found a chrysalis. It was so shiny and transparent that you could see the wings of the creature growing inside. 

We put the garden beds to rest for the winter, which is always bittersweet. We’ve learned so much this year and we’re looking forward to a winter of rest and the next growing season.


What is spaghetti squash?

Spaghetti squash is a winter squash that’s golden yellow, shaped like a small watermelon and ranges in size from 2 to 5 pounds. When cooked and then gently scraped out of its shell, spaghetti squash has the appearance of angel hair pasta. Its unique flesh makes it a favorite for kids!

Spaghetti squash has a sweet, slightly nutty flavor. Low in carbohydrates and high in fiber, spaghetti squash may be used as a gluten free substitute for traditional noodles.

Nutritional Value:
One cup of cooked spaghetti squash provides about 42 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and other nutrients such as vitamin A and potassium. Vitamin A is important for wound healing and helping maintain normal immune function (immune function is how your body recognizes and defends itself against bacteria, viruses, and substances that appear foreign and harmful). Potassium helps your nerves to function and muscles to contract.

Super Spaghetti Squash Bites
(This recipe got rave reviews from our students)


1 small spaghetti squash  

1 cup panko bread crumbs  

½ cup grated parmesan cheese  

1 egg 


1. Wash hands with soap and water. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. 

2. Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out seeds. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until tender. The squash is done when a fork easily pierces the skin and goes into the flesh. Let cool and scoop out pulp. 

3. Break the egg into a medium-sized bowl. Wash hands with soap and water after cracking the raw egg. 

4. In a bowl, mix 1 ½ cups of the cooked squash, 1 cup bread crumbs and ½ cup parmesan cheese. Stir until thoroughly blended. 

5. Line the baking dish with parchment paper. Scoop 1 Tbsp squash batter to form bite-size balls. Place squash balls on the baking dish. 

6. Bake for 16-20 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip and bake for another 3 minutes until golden. 

Makes 5 servings (4 bites each). Each serving contains 103 calories, 3 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber & 253 mg sodium.


Click to access spaghetti-squash-fffyc-pdf.pdf

Bell Peppers

Our Bell Pepper plants are thriving this year! Bell Peppers are a warm season vegetable and part of the Nightshade family, along with tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. They are tasty, inexpensive and an excellent, healthy dietary choice. Bell peppers start out green, then will ripen to yellow, then orange, then red, and in some cases turn purple. Red, orange, yellow, and purple bell peppers generally taste sweeter than green bell peppers. The lobes on peppers are determined by growing conditions and genetics, they don’t indicate the sweetness factor of the pepper in any way.

As Bell peppers mature, their nutrient content increases, making green peppers a little less vitamin packed than the others. Still, Green Bell Peppers contain large amounts of minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin C, which helps heal cuts and wounds and are a good source of Vitamin A, which promotes eye health. Green peppers provide 80 mg of vitamin C per 3oz serving, yellow, orange and red peppers provide 184 mg per 3oz serving.

After harvesting peppers, use them within 3 to 5 days. Store peppers in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator or use other covered containers. 

Bell Peppers can be used in a variety of ways, they add color crunch and flavor to any meal. Here are some ideas:

  • Add peppers to sandwiches or wraps
  • Slice them up and add to a salad
  • Dice and add to salsa
  • Add to a stir-fry
  • Dice peppers and add to a quesadilla or taco
  • Add peppers to a pasta sauce
  • Add peppers to a stew, soup or chili
  • Make fajitas by cooking peppers and onion together
  • Grill peppers on a kebab
  • Slice raw peppers and eat them with a dip or hummus
  • Baked Stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers are perfect for a meal, and freeze well if you want to make a batch ahead of time. My family loves to eat stuffed peppers! The classic stuffed pepper is made using ground beef but my husband is a vegetarian, so I tend to make vegetarian versions of stuffed peppers for my family. 

I cut the tops off of the peppers, wash and clean out the insides of the peppers and then stuff them with a mixture of a grain (flavored rice, risotto, couscous, quinoa…)  cut up vegetables, beans or chopped nuts for protein. I sprinkle them with a little shredded cheese and bake them at 425 degrees for about 13 minutes. They’re an easy and delicious meal.

Try these varieties of stuffed peppers from Cookie and Kate: https://cookieandkate.com/vegetarian-stuffed-peppers-recipe/

Happy cooking! I would love to hear how you make your stuffed peppers!










Back to School 2022!

After a two year break from cooking with students (due to Covid) we will be returning to the Kitchen/Garden classroom this fall! We’re looking forward to using our garden produce to teach students how to make fun, yummy and healthy foods. Help us to purchase back to school supplies for our Kitchen/ Garden Classroom. Please visit our Amazon wish list, any donation large or small will be greatly appreciated.

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