If You Feed Them, They Will Come…AND Do the Dishes

I have a more serious thinkpiece that’s in the process of being written, but first I have to tell you all about my absolute victory that happened yesterday.

“If you feed them, they will come” is a staple truism in teen services. Having trouble getting teens into your program? Bring snacks. Teenagers are A. always hungry and B. have no money, so bribery with food is a pretty popular tactic for teen librarians. Personally, I’d rather my kids come to something because they WANT to…which is why I really, really like putting on cooking programs.

Over the summer, we did a food-based program every Monday, and they were always very well attended. My spotlight program was the faux-campfire cooking, where we baked potatoes in the “fire” of my panini press, and the raw foods smoothie program, where we got teens to eat smoothies with kale in them. Recalling that success, I decided I wanted to do a mug cooking program that, if successful, could spawn a repeating Pop-Up Kitchen series of cooking events where we learn how to make easy, healthy snacks that use super common ingredients and don’t use more than a microwave (or maybe a toaster oven).

My friends, I fed them, and they came. We made mug omelets and mug cake (yes, the cake was not all that healthy, but the omelets were, and everyone ended up wanting to make one of each).

I regret I do not have photos – I was too busy refilling ingredient bowls and moderating the line for the microwave. Kids were requesting other recipes before we’d started cleaning up. AND THEN, the absolute cherry on top, were the teens (about half the group, even) who voluntarily helped me wash out all the mugs.

If you have a microwave in your library and a handful of microwave-safe mugs (heck, even if you don’t have mugs, you can pick some up at the dollar store or a resale shop), I cannot recommend this program enough. Pinterest has TONS of mug cooking recipes with different levels of complexity; I went with two that only used three or four ingredients to keep my costs down:

Farmers microwave omelets
Gooey chocolate mug cake

I had 12 teens and the whole thing cost me $20.

Next time for Pop-Up Kitchen I think we’re going to do English muffin pizzas (the request was for biscuit dough pizzas, but I think the recipes will work better when they only need to cook for a few minutes; one of the reasons things went as smoothly as they did was because no one needed the microwave for longer than 90 seconds).