Students learn culinary skills at cooking camp

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — A group of elementary school students sat down to savor an Italian feast for lunch Tuesday during camp.
But unlike many of their peers attending camps this summer, the children actually prepared the meal.
It’s one of many tasty treats they’ll learn how to make this week during the annual Cooking with Katie camp hosted at the N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Rowan County office off Old Concord Road.
The rising third- through fifth-graders whipped up lasagna and garlic bread with a side salad in less than two hours Tuesday with the help of Katie Misenheimer, who teaches food courses at East Rowan High during the school year.
That meant measuring out the proper amount of ingredients including tomato sauce, cheese and noodles before combining them in a baking pan.
After covering the dish with aluminum foil, Maniya Hunt, 8, popped the lasagna in the oven to cook for an hour.
But before she did, Misenheimer questioned her about the proper safety procedures, including wearing oven mitts and stepping to the side before opening the hot appliance.
With the lasagna in the oven, the students shifted their focus to preparing lettuce, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes for the salad.
Misenheimer showed them how to properly use a peeler, wield a paring knife and create shredded toppings with the help of a grater.
Setting the table was next. The students were each given a plate, silverware, glass and napkin and asked to put everything in the right place.
Then they followed along as Misenheimer showed them how to fold their napkins in a variety of ways including the bird of paradise, bishop’s hat and tent folds.
When it was time for lunch, the students set their plates to follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s My Plate model, which includes fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.
“We try to incorporate basic table manners and basic nutrition,” Misenheimer said. “They will get recipes they can take home and learn things they can do to help out in their own kitchens.”
Naomi Shinn, 9, said she’s finding out a few things she didn’t know about eating healthy.
“If you’re going to eat something that is bad for you, you should add a healthy food to it,” she said. “Also, healthy foods taste good too.”
Misenheimer said she wants to introduce the students to foods they may not have ever tried.
“We had cottage cheese (Monday), which some of them had never had,” she said. “I’m all about trying new things. That’s what I want them to get out of this.”
A trip to the Salisbury Farmers Market today will be another new experience for some of the children, including Maniya.
“I can’t wait to see all the fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers,” she said.
Misenheimer said the campers will get tips on how to pick out quality produce and learn about the kind of ingredients used to prepare it.
“When we get back from the farmers market, we’re going to make ranch dip with Greek yogurt, which tastes very similar to the regular dip,” she said. “Then we’ll cut some of the vegetables that we bought and try it out.”
Children will get a tutorial in how to make some quick desserts including cake in a coffee mug and a dump cake, which includes a number of fruits and minimal mixing and measuring.
“We’ll also chop up some fruits and make a fruit dip out of vanilla yogurt and frozen juice,” she said.
Throughout the week the campers are also learning about proper hand washing techniques, kitchen safety and careers in the food industry.
But they all agree that getting the chance to actually cook is the most fun.
Well, almost.
“The best part is that after we’re done cooking, we get to eat,” Maniya said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

Cook it!
Easy cheese lasagna

1 can (15 ounces)
   tomato sauce 
1 jar (14 ounces)
   spaghetti sauce
1 container (16 ounces)
   1 percent low-fat
   cottage cheese
1 package (8 ounces) 
   shredded part skim
   mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan 
9 lasagna noodles,
Cooking spray
   for baking pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl combine tomato and spaghetti sauces; set aside. In another small bowl combine cottage and parmesan cheeses. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking pan; line bottom with three uncooked  lasagna noodles. Cover with 1/3 of sauce, 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture and 1/3 of mozzarella. Repeat layering two more times with noodles, sauces and cheese. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for one hour. 

Note: After removing from oven, lasagna must stand for 15 minutes before serving to allow noodles to absorb moisture and soften. Yields 12 servings.