The fruits of labor paid off in the White House’s organic vegetable garden Tuesday: the first lady, along with the children who first helped her plant the garden, harvested 73 pounds of lettuce and 12 pounds of peas. The group then prepared a meal with the harvest in the White House kitchen, and then ate the meal together.
“It’s harvest day,” Michelle Obama proclaimed as she entered the now full White House garden, “Today is the fun part. We get to pick some stuff, clean it and cook it and eat it .”
The first lady and the eleven-year olds cut lettuce and stole a taste of some snap peas straight from the garden.
The lettuce and the peas were then taken into the White House kitchen, along with the group, to prepare the meal. The first lady snapped peas with some of the kids, assisted by White House chefs, prepared baked chicken with brown rice and peas, salad with carrots and honey dressing, and garden cupcakes with fruit topping.
Later in the “first lady’s garden” near the White House, children set the table with plastic forks, knives and spoons on a long picnic table with a red and white checkered tablecloths to eat their meal.
“Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work, “ Mrs. Obama told the kids, “This was a big dream of mine.”
The first lady then uncharacteristically launched into pretty meaty territory– saying that Congress and the president will start focusing on healthy eating and nutrition soon, and that the statistics of obesity rates, and diabetes among children, and the $120 billion a year Americans spend on health care on diet related issues are “unacceptable.”
“This gorgeous and bountiful garden that you saw over there has given us a chance to not just have some fun, which we‘ve had a lot of it, but to shed some light on the important food and nutrition issues that we’re gonna need to address in this nation.”
Mrs. Obama said the government has a big role to play in this and specifically mentioned the need to make the healthiest meals possible available for kids through the USDA national school lunch program.
“We’re approaching the first opportunity to move this to the top of the agenda with the upcoming reauthorization of the child nutrition program. In doing so we can go a long way of creating a better generation for our kids,” she said.
The first lady added that for poor and isolated communities healthy eating is often times of reach – as groceries must be bought at drug stores or gas stations – and that needs to be remedied.
She said she was glad that more than one million community gardens have been planted, especially in urban areas, “emulating what they are doing,” for healthy eating.
With that, the first lady banged her hands lightly on the table and started to chant, “We wanna eat, we wanna eat, we wanna eat.”
Below are the recipes for the menu that the first lady and the kids prepared today:
“KID FRIENDLY RECIPES”
One head of lettuce
Half of a cucumber
1/3 of a cup of vegetable oil (olive or canola)
1/4 vinegar (red wine or balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon mustard (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and chop lettuce and place in a large bowl. Peel and cut carrots and cucumber into bite size pieces. In a small bowl place vinegar, honey, mustard, and salt and pepper. Using a whisk, mix vinegar mixture while slowly pouring oil into bowl. Alternatively, combine all ingredients in a leak proof container and shake vigorously. Add dressing just before serving.
BAKED CHICKEN BROWN RICE AND PEAS
One chicken cut into pieces
1 cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs beaten
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat over to 400 degrees. Wash and pat dry chicken. Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides of chicken. Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls. Place chicken in bowl of flour and cover chicken completely, knock off excess flour. Dip chicken in eggs, covering completely. Finally, roll chicken in bread crumbs and cover completely. Place on baking dish and put in oven for approximately 40 minutes or until juices run clear.
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 cups water
Combine 1 1/2 cup rice to 3 cups water in pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low. Cook for approximately 40 min or until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork adding a sprinkle of salt and a tablespoon of butter or vegetable oil at the end.
1 pound of peas
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 clove chopped garlic (or garlic powder)
Clean and rinse one pound of peas (or use frozen peas if peas are out of season). If snap peas are available they can be used as well. When chicken and rice are finished, heat a frying pan on med/high heat and add oil and garlic. Just as garlic becomes golden add peas and cook until warm, approximately 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat and serve.
-Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller