You slice an X on the end opposite of where the vine grew out of the tomato. Then you put your scored tomatoes in boiling water for several minutes (it doesn’t take long), to loosen the skin. Then out of the boiling water and into an ice bath they go, to stop the cooking process and to cool them down enough to handle with your fingers. The skin, comes right off!

That’s the first step in making any great tomato sauce. In Butter Beans’ after school cooking classes, we chopped the peeled tomatoes, added them to a pan with extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic and a touch of salt. Everyone learned the trick of putting the garlic under the flat blade of a knife, and then pressing down with good umph, to loosen the garlic’s skin to prepare to chop. What I found surprising, is that this garlic trick is usually done with a big chef’s knife. In after school, we are confined to plastic cutlery – the kind you get at take out restaurants – but the trick still worked!

The little practices and techniques that add up to a feeling of competence in the kitchen make cooking fun and fantastic. Pizza, raw chocolate pudding, poached pears, sweet potato ravioli.. with enough of us involved, we really can grow a generation of cooks – healthy, happy, thoughtful cooks.