One hour of cooking. One hour of eating. Once a week. Teacher and community volunteer Liz Hauck wondered if the boys who reside at The House, a facility for teen boys in state care, will be interested in this cooking class? Not really. “I think everyone would like it better if you just cook and then we eat,” one of the skeptical teens replied. But with the promise they would take it week by week and the irresistible lure of Mountain Dew Code Red, Tuesday Night Dinner was born.
In Home Made, Liz Hauck takes us into the kitchen of The House. With minimal tools and only one oven rack she and a handful of adolescent boys created small moments of connection. While chopping chicken and stirring brownie mixes, she gets to know the boys. Leon is the self-appointed biscuit maker who despite a serious neurological condition was a natural leader. Frank struggled to read the back of the rice box but was Liz’s most reliable sous-chef. Wes seldom helped in the kitchen but loved a good cheesecake.
Sometimes there were kitchen disasters. Sometimes no one showed up. Often there were moments of heartbreak and frustration as these young men faced challenges of mental illness, inadequate schooling, and lack of family support as they drifted in and out of The House. Yet over the course of several years and 100 meals, the simple act of cooking and eating together forged a community.