Everyday without fail, when I pick up my students, I am asked the same question: “What are we making today?” It repeats from the mouths of fifteen students into a cacophonous uproar.

“What are we making today?” It eventually pulls a fog through my brain turning on the auto-pilot response: “We’ll find out in the kitchen.”

“But what are we making today?”

I call it the Are We There Yet Syndrome. I feel as though I am driving in a car. We’ll be there soon, we’ll be soon, five minutes! As every teacher (and parent) knows, you must wait until ears are focused on the response, lest you answer it twenty times: “We’ll find out in the kitchen– Live in suspense!”

They ask even with the menu posted outside the classroom door. They ask even when I point the menu out each time we enter and leave the classroom. They ask even if I accidentally tell them what we’re making in response to their own auto-pilot question. Oops.

I try not to tell them until we get downstairs because no matter what it is, someone thinks it is “gross,” and will spend the next five minutes jumping up and down in front of me, pulling on my arm, trying to convince me we should make something else: “What? Brownies?! I hate brownies!”

I prefer a communal onslaught instead of a single-focus attack. I prefer a tantrum in the confines of the kitchen, rather than the public hallway (which still requires getting them downstairs). Instead, I try to distract and drive the question into another direction: “What do you think we’re making?” or: “What should we make today?”

This past Monday, my crew of fifteen kindergarten and first graders are heading downstairs when one of my students suggests we make (not chocolate chip cookies) Nutella crepes.

“Nutella crepes? How do you make Nutella crepes?” I respond.
“Well, I already know how to make the Nutella, so you just have to show us how to make the crepes.”
“Wait! You know how to make Nutella? How?
“Well, you open the jar and eat it, that’s how you make it.”
“I didn’t realize Nutella was so easy to make, but I guess we never have to make that since you already know how.”

Once in the kitchen I explain what we are making: We are going to enjoy the last of this season’s tomatoes and peppers, making fresh salsa, then roll up enchiladas and bake them in our salsa.

There are a number of wary eyes as I explain our process for the day: This salsa business sounds terribly close to that gazpacho business from a few weeks back. Soon enough, they are cutting away at tomatoes, plucking at cilantro, tearing at peppers and we are blending our salsa. We grate our cheese, we smash our black beans onto our tortillas (we need some glue, after all), we sprinkle our cheese on our tortillas and then we get there… We begin to roll our enchiladas…

“This is how you make Nutella crepes! Now I know how!”
“What do you mean?”
“You take a tortilla and roll up the Nutella you’ve made.”

I don’t doubt Nutella spread on a flour tortilla wouldn’t taste good– Heck, I likely ate it a few times in college while low on funds and living off quesadillas. I am hoping that when we do eventually make crepes (fingers crossed well before that time) this student realizes “making something” does not involve opening a jar or package. I am also hoping she can find the good will to go home and tell her parents she learned how to make enchiladas today, not Nutella crepes. Learning how to make Nutella crepes was just an added bonus of today’s class.

Fresh Salsa and Enchiladas
4 servings
4 roma tomatoes
1 small red onion, about 1/4 cup, chopped
1/2 red pepper, about 1/4 cup, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, leaves only
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup monteray jack cheese
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup black beans
4 flour tortillas

1 8×8-inch baking dish

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Blitz tomatoes, onion, pepper, cilantro, garlic, lime juice and sea salt in a blender until smooth, set aside. Shred cheeses on largest circular setting of a box grater, set aside. Lay one tortilla on a flat surface, top with 2 tablespoons black beans. Using the back of a fork, smash the beans onto the tortilla. Divide the cheese into five equal piles. Sprinkle one pile of the cheese down the center of the tortilla, roll, and place seam side down in a baking dish. Continue with remaining tortillas, beans and three piles of cheese. Pour salsa over prepared tortillas and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of the enchiladas. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until enchiladas are warmed through and cheese on top is slightly golden.

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