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Families Give Thanks at P.A.L.

Families Give Thanks at P.A.L.

First there was music. Then there was a dance-off. Then there was a Harlem Seeds-style chow-down with the students and families who participate in Harlem’s Police Athletic League programs.

Harlem Seeds is partnering with P.A.L. for the 2011-2012 school year to run its Cooking Club, a group of about 15 students who meet up every Friday to learn basic kitchen skills and the joy of healthy eating. So it was Harlem Seeds and Cooking Club kids who made the basics of P.A.L.’s family Thanksgiving dinner last week, on the Tuesday before the holiday.

“In the kitchen we made yams, and mac-and-cheese made from scratch, and roasted apples, and turkey,” said Kayla Willie, a Cooking Club member, jumping up and down.

“I helped to make the yams,” said Samiiyah Brumfield, age 8, another wiggling club member. “We had to put them in a big pot.”

The Harlem Seeds menu brought color to the long rows of serving tables set up in P.A.L.’s gym: There was the green of our Kale with Sundried Tomatoes and Sauteed Cabbage & Onions, the bright orange of our Roasted Yam Medallions, and the cinnamon browns of our Roasted Apples. We also made Smashed, Roasted & Boiled Potatoes with Garlic, Macaroni and Cheese, and several roasted turkeys.

P.A.L. parents filled out the buffet tables with dishes shared from home.

“We brought cornbread,” said Haydee Alvarez, Kayla’s mother, nodding in appreciation for the food adventures Harlem Seeds is sharing with her daughter. “We try (to cook at home) when I’m not rushing and have the patience. But that’s not all the time.”

Thus far this school season, Cooking Club members have learned that Harlem Seeds means hands-on kitchen fun.

“My favorite thing is that we get to make things that we never made before,” said Alissa Bellamy, age 10, a big fan of the “bug juice” she helped create during one of the first Cooking Club sessions.

“My favorite thing … is that we get to taste the ingredients before we put them in,” said Kayla. “And we get to slice (the vegetables). We have to cut them sideways. We have to make the ‘bear claw.'”

Samiiyah’s favorite take-home was shared with her family over one of the folding tables set up on the P.A.L. gym floor.

“The ‘candied’ yams taste sweet but we didn’t put sugar in them,” said told her mother, father and brother.

And then they all prepared to take another bite.

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