All for Kale and Kale for All: Recipe for a Virtual Cook-Along

Before we jump into the grain bowl, I want to share my observation (seven months into my tenure here at Clarity Innovations) that Clarity’s leadership and various employee-run “committees'' seem uniquely focused on ensuring our team of 25+ understands HOW to work together—and not just for efficiency’s sake. Sure, the company emphasizes collaboration and productivity in all of our client engagements, but we also plan, organize, and gather for the sake of fun, connection, and even, occasionally, yumminess.

Doing Remote Right

Clarity’s organizational focus on how to work together effectively was first demonstrated in my new hire “onboarding” process. This perfectly planned and paced remote training experience offered significant value for me as a new employee. The folks who made our introduction to Clarity’s ways were Tavia and Kelly and—no coincidence here—they’re both former classroom educators (and more). Now their daily work in edtech consulting calls for them to support others’ effective teaching and learning practices with promising technologies. You can’t ask for better virtual instruction on how/why/when to integrate tools/content/protocols than what a Learning Experience Designer and App Engineer have helped to design and facilitate. 

Tavia and Kelly intentionally sequenced and structured each unit of the new hire onboarding syllabus to help me (and Software Engineer Aimen, who started at the same time) create the conditions for successful participation, engagement, and communication within the larger team. Our team’s onboarding (which by necessity of the COVID-19 pandemic was delivered remotely) benefited similarly from their instructional design know-how, understanding of digital pedagogy and tools, and skills with remote content delivery.

Committed to Committees

I also learned during onboarding that working here requires participation in at least one employee-led committee, and so I chose to join Clarity’s “Wellness Committee.” (The other seven committees include Community, Events, Facilities, Diversity and Inclusion, Pantry, Safety, and Sustainability.) Aimen and I discovered additionally that in December each team member attends an annual company event called “All-Hands Week,” referencing how an entire ship’s crew gathers to engage in the same pursuit. Due to the pandemic, this year’s five days of All-Hands Week programming—designed by the eight committees and company leadership—would be delivered via approximately 25 hours of scheduled Zoom time. 

Our whole-team group would gather to discuss the state of the company, celebrate the previous year’s achievements, and review strategy for the coming year. We’d also enjoy virtual departmental lunches, a digital “white elephant” (see the on-screen hints everyone submitted with their white elephant gifts in the screengrab below), a Zoom happy hour with fancy-dress and cocktail competition, and more.

Build Your Own Grain Bowl (BYOGB)

The Wellness Committee was responsible for engaging the entire team during one chunk of All-Hands Week. Closer to the event, we committee members gathered to discuss options. 

We rapidly coalesced around a plan: we’d organize and facilitate the simultaneous preparation of a delicious lunch during All-Hands Week—a group “cook-along.” Since selecting an appropriate recipe might seem challenging given the wide variety of people’s culinary abilities and preferences (not to mention the constraints of the cook-along’s remote context) our committee didn’t dally in making our choice. Kailey proposed a lunch bowl with grain and kale. We all liked the flexibility of the proposed recipe for adjusting to particular food tastes and pantries. It was agreed: BYOGB was a go. 

Kailey, who professed the most passion about the bowl’s contents and proper kale preparation methods, was quickly designated our cook-along’s lead facilitator. Everyone else signed up for different slots during which we’d take responsibility for leading a recipe step. We figured our cook-along would cover about 60 minutes of synchronous All-Hands Week virtual togetherness time as well as some asynchronous, independent shopping and prep. Front-End Technical Producer Allison accepted the task of communicating to our colleagues about this not-to-be-missed lunch event, including creation of the ingredient list.

BYOGB Ingredient List

So how did our BYOGB virtual Wellness Committee gathering go? It was truly joyous to create something non-work-focused together—and of course the output was seriously delicious. 

Before this, Clarity had only focused on leafy greens once, in a client engagement developing a curriculum for classroom gardens in urban schools. But with kale (and grain and more) on the learning menu for All-Hands Week, our internal team got to learn pomegranate aril removal, hold radically candid soft-boiled egg debates, and also enjoy some of the best things about working at Clarity: planning, collaboration, cooperation, shared leadership, and of course, yummy fun.

 

Recipe for a Virtual Cook-Along

The following is a Build Your Own Grain Bowl (BYOGB) recipe that any organization can use or adapt to enjoy a 60-minute shared cooking adventure, together, virtually.

 

Ingredients for Cook-Along Success

We suggest these conditions for your cook-along:

  • Folks who set up and lead the cook-along
  • Time set aside for participants to plan, prep, join, and cook together
  • An online meeting platform such as Zoom and video connectivity for all participants
  • A recipe that’s:
    • Achievable for all participants in the allotted time
    • A tiny bit aspirational (it’s fun to learn a new technique!)
    • Adaptable to each person’s pantry and preferences
  • Colleagues who opt in to participate and who have access to groceries and a kitchen with cooking basics and tools
  • Money to purchase edible ingredients (In our case, Clarity sponsored individual, local grocery purchases for this effort, regardless of whether employees chose to participate!)
  • Directions for taking the group through the recipe

Ingredients for BYOGBowls

During the cook-along, folks will need these bowl ingredients:

  • Wild rice*
  • Bunch fresh curly kale*
  • Fresh egg*
  • Fresh whole orange
  • Fresh whole pomegranate
  • Olive oil
  • Rice vinegar*

Ahead of time, folks will need to prep these optional add-in ingredients:

  • Pumpkin seeds, toasted*
  • Handful fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped*
  • One fresh jalapeno pepper, trimmed and minced
  • One clove of fresh garlic, peeled, trimmed, and minced or pressed
  • Butternut squash, peeled, and cubed*

* Allison’s ingredient list pictured above includes substitution ideas. Build YOGB to be truly YO.

In October 2021, Jen Begonia joined our extended network of alumni.