Kids enjoy learning to cook


May 20, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Kids in Humboldt, Moran, LaHarpe and Iola are being given the chance to learn to cook as part of Allen County Extension Service’s Kids Can Cook program.
The three-day program began Wednesday in Humboldt, where students finished regular classes on Tuesday.
For 21⁄2 hours each day, students learn about food safety, nutrition, healthy food choices and proper kitchen protocol, said instructor Terri Kretzmeier.
“Each year we have a theme,” Kretzmeier said. “Yesterday we did a sleepover theme, with breakfast foods being the focus,” she said. Today, children learned to prepare a picnic lunch, and tomorrow will be supper, Kretzmeier said.
At the end of the sessions, kids are given a cookbook containing all the recipes from the week, five or six from each day, Kretzmeier said.
The students work in small groups and “each child makes at least two recipes” per day, Kretzmeier said, then taste-tests all the food.
“They have to try at least a bite,” of each recipe, she noted.
“We don’t use words like ‘icky’ or ‘gross.’ If they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it, but they have to try it,” Kretzmeier said.
That approach has led to some reluctant eaters branching out, she noted.
“I had one mom who told me her son didn’t like anything, but now she’s tracking me down for recipes.”
The classes are designed for students who have completed second through fifth grades.
Sign-up is through Allen County Extension, 365-2242.
Students in Iola have two chances to learn next week, at a morning class from 9 to 11:30 and in the afternoon from 1 to 3:30. Both classes are taught Tuesday through Thursday in the Family and Consumer Sciences room at Iola High School.
Moran and LaHarpe students are offered classes June 7-9, at LaHarpe Senior Center from 9 to 11:30 and from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Moran Senior/Community Center.
“Parents are scared to have their kids handle knives,” Kretzmeier, said, “but we work with them.”
Children are also taught safe food handling in the kitchen, including proper food storage.
“We don’t leave food on the counter and we wash our hands a lot,” she noted.
Food preparation and safety are paramount to Kretzmeier, the Nutrition Assistant for the Family and Nutrition Program at Allen County Extension.
She has been teaching the class for six years and noted, “we have a lot of kids — boys and girls — who return year after year.”
The class is limited to about 20 participants at each location. There is room in all the remaining classes, Kretzmeier said.