My parents are moving. They retired and bought a house in Florida–it’s where the old people go. They’ve been talking about building an in-law apartment onto my house so they could spend quality time with me until they forget who I am and think I’m coming to steal things.

That’s a different story. The point is, my dad packed his pots. He wanted hummus and three-bean salad. I’m making a week’s supply for both of us, trying a new recipe I found in The Common Core Cookbook. This cookbook has promise because it not only has all-time favorites, but it presents them in a new way, incorporating Common Core State Standards throughout. The next time a kid asks me, “What do I do with this stuff?” I’ll hand him a copy of this Three-Bean Salad recipe. Healthy eating and learning at the same time! What could be better?

The Common Core Cookbook is designed such that if you cook through to the end,  you should be proficient in every Common Core Standard. As a teacher, this is summer review. As a parent in today’s day and age, it’s critical. I’ll be able to use all the standards I learn to help Declan pass high-stakes tests and get into a college I can’t afford. No matter: this cookbook has a helpful appendix with all the information I’ll need to defer student loans. There’s even an entire chapter dedicated to cooking and incorporating standards for ramen noodle recipes. That’s intellectual and economical–something I can really stand behind. Cook and learn with me now!


Three Bean Salad (as adapted from The Common Core Cookbook*)

Step One: Assemble the ingredients  (dried beans, green beans, onions, peppers, olive oil, salt, apple cider vinegar)

Standards addressed: Quantity, measurement and modeling. Modeling wants us to choose and use the correct math for real everyday life. It’s sprinkled through all the standards–I like to think of it as mathematical salt. It’s elusive, that means it’s important, but fine print always is. I use modeling to determine how increasing and decreasing quantities of beans has different effects on taste and amount of gas produced. I collect data to see if customers might actually buy such a salad. Heck, this could be more than a recipe–it could be a career change.

At this early stage of food prep, I’m called upon by the standards to make predictions based on the types and quantities of beans I choose. Naturally, I’ll graph this as I continue to cook, collect data, and broadcast the results–these are three more standards.  Right out of the gate, though, I’m hitting several standards. There’s probably a standard on real number theory in there, too, because if I used imaginary numbers someone wouldn’t eat.

Step Two: Cut stuff. 

Standards addressed: Cutting is all about  geometry.  I cut the green beans in perfect angles–there’s a French culinary term for this (“determining the meaning of domain-specific vocabulary”), but I cut “small trapezoids” instead. Onions and peppers turn out to be squares and rhombuses. I flip them around and compare them (that hits standards in congruency) then measure the hypotenuse of a vegetable that looks like a 90-degree triangle (Houston, we’ve got some “quadratic equation”). I call some ugly shapes “outliers” in order to use standards in statistics, then I guess the proportion of perfectly chopped veggies to hacked ones (estimation).

Step three:  Weigh and measure dried beans

Standards addressed: “follow precisely a multi-step procedure when taking measurements (shouldn’t it say “precisely following?”–I need some writing standards).”  I read a chart which tells me to soak the beans in proportion to their size (ratios and “integrate visual information”) then steam them in a pressure cooker. I write a lab report about the relationship between pressure and temperature in MLA format drawing a picture while the beans steam (“translate visual information expressed in words into a picture”). I feel like a non-GMO hybrid between Einstein and Jamie Oliver.

Step four: Season the beans

Standards addressed: Everyone knows oil and vinegar don’t mix (is there a standard on density or molecular science? ) I mix the two together to prove this theory, reflect, then I pour this in the bowl.

Step five: Present and serve.

Standards addressed: This hits all the standards on speaking, oral communication, and several in the College and Career Readiness section, because I never know when I’ll need to bring Three Bean Salad to a work function, or even serve food to my boss.

I smile. I’ve used so many standards! Forget Declan, I’ll apply to Harvard myself before I pay off the rest of my student loans.

But then I look…

There is something drastically wrong with my Common Core Three Bean Salad.

There are four beans.

Fear washes over my soul. I know if this was for real–if it were–the test–I’d be far below standard. I might not even graduate. I can’t serve this! It’s off by 33%. Or is it 20%. $#^%, I’m not sure.

I check my equations again, look through the proof, graph a few things. I don’t understand the appearance of the fourth bean. How did I solve this Common Core math wrong? I’m a teacher, for God’s sake.

I start picking out kidney beans out. I’m desperate. There are so many kidney beans!

Thanks to my Common Core training, however, I can think this through and arrive at a solution. Kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, green beans. I decide green beans will be classified as a vegetable, not bean, from now on.  Four minus one equals x. X=3. Three beans! Algebra in real life.

One final standard achieved, it’s time for dinner.

* [Note: The Common Core Cookbook is a figment of my imagination, but I might just write it. Please leave a comment with your favorite recipes, and I will translate them to Common Core foods (almost) guaranteed to make you a better human being–all while you eat healthy foods.]