A few weeks ago, I called my mother up in Boston to look for a recipe that I was certain I had left behind at the house – say about 1987 or so – Gates Middle School days. I was lucky enough to go to an “old-fashioned” public school. One that taught reading, writing, and math as well as wood shop, metal shop, guitar, and home ec. Yup. Home economics – cooking and sewing. It was a lot of fun. I made a soccer ball in sewing class and kept it for many years, but the skills I learned in cooking class I have kept with me for life. For the record, I remember nothing about the guitar but I am quite handy with most household tools and even occasionally get the urge to weld something.
As a health teacher in a community college, it is woefully apparent what a disservice we have done to our students by eliminating home economics classes from our school budgets. Most of my students eat fast food because no one ever taught them to cook and now, without intervention, they most likely wouldn’t be able to teach these basic skills to their children.
Home economics is not just about cooking – it is about paying for the food and understanding how much ingredients cost. It is about realizing that you can whip up a batch of pancakes for a couple of dollars instead of spending ten (or more) at IHOP. Slice a banana over the top of your pancake, brew yourself a little cup of coffee and you have got yourself a pretty nice breakfast.
When I challenge my students to eliminate fast food and eat real food, they often worry that buying real food will cost too much money. After only a week or two avoiding the campus eateries, they realize how much money they have been wasting. Their waistlines get thinner while their wallets get fatter – fast food, when they take a closer look, is actually really, really expensive.
I feel really lucky that I had the opportunity to spend a few hours a week in a middle school kitchen making snickerdoodles and pancakes and learning how to measure flour and brown sugar correctly and why you need to know what a meniscus is to properly measure liquid ingredients. Home economics classes were fun and they inspired middle school girls and boys to come home to an empty house after school and cook themselves a snack. Home economics might not be the only reason why my good friend, Rachel, and I decided to make large quantities of hot fudge sauce, but the culture of cooking and experimenting with food was widespread enough to get us to mess around in the kitchen and create some treats for our friends and families. As I recall, this recipe is from Rachel’s mom. We made it with regular cocoa but I decided to give it a try with dark cocoa. Wow! Delicious, although the original is probably still the best.
Dark Chocolate Hot Fudge Sauce