My initial post about Cook and Learn (Beverly Veitch and Thelma Harms, illustrations and calligraphy by Gerry and Tia Wallace, 1981) emphasized its boundless expectations for very young students and their teachers. Since the post was already lengthy, I decided not to even go into another facet of the book that seemed just a little wild. The teacher who should stock the class with an endless assortment of tiny pots, loaf pans, etc., expect small children to chop up hard veggies with sharp knives, encourage them to flip their own pancakes on a hot stove, etc. was also encouraged to build the class its own dehydrator.
All it takes is an electric griddle, hardware cloth, fiberglass screen, corrugated paper, carefully taped and vented foil, and a hand-cut lid! "That sounds super-easy," I whispered to myself sarcastically when I found this page, but then again, it probably would be super-easy to a teacher willing to try using the recipes in this book. At least the teacher can make a dehydrator on their own without 22 sets of tiny hands trying to help.
Yes, there are recipes for the usual suspects like jerky and fruit leather, but my favorites are a little more complicated (and they get bonus points for fitting quite firmly into the '70s health food category). Dehydrator Cookies are less actual cookies than a granola that takes only 24-48 hours to dry.
Will the kids be more disappointed or less disappointed to discover the cookies they expected are just wads of dried-out fruit, nuts, and oats if they have to wait a couple days to taste them? Maybe the anticipation will make the cookies even more of a letdown, but maybe by then the kids will have moved on to other things and just be surprised that they still have some kind of weird food to try after all that time.
Since we're talking '70s health food desserts, we also have to talk carob! Yes, there's a carob-based dehydrator "treat."
My favorite part of the instructions might be that they end with "turn over." I'm not sure whether this means that the other side of the "fudge" should also be dried for two more days or whether the instruction to turn over is simply to make sure that it easily peels off the plastic and isn't too sticky on the bottom before trying to hand it out to the kids, who will inevitably be disappointed that this little block that looks like it should be a delicious, chocolatey fudge is nothing more than a lie with some nuts and seeds in it.
In any case, the classroom dehydrator seems like a real lesson in how anticipation is often more exciting than the payoff. Get used to being disappointed, kids! Waiting for a long time to get something that sucks anyway is what being an adult is all about...