Tahlequah Daily Press

July 10, 2013

Teens get taste for veggies at cooking class

Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Area teens cooked and ate “alien” food during a 4-H cooking class Tuesday.

Well, vegetables aren’t necessarily “alien,” but for many youth, they may as well come from another planet.

According to Heather Winn, OSU Extension educator for family and consumer sciences, the name of the 4-H workshop “Alien Food” came about because children don’t always eat lots of vegetables and fruits – and for some, these healthy foods are alien in children’s diets.

Although the menu items all had “alien” names, the meals were regular Earth food fare: Alien Goop, batter-fried vegetables; Pluto Nuggets, breaded and baked zucchini; Stuffed Flying Saucer, chicken quesadilla; Spaceship Surprise, calico squash casserole; Alien Fingers, okra fries; Mars Pie, tater tot casserole; Romulan Wrap, Tex-Mex chicken club wrap; Klingon Muffins, zucchini lemon muffins; and Martian Samiches, bacon, lettuce and fried green tomato sandwiches.

Some of the participating 4-H members had the opportunity to gather fresh vegetables from the OSU Extension Service garden with Carl Wallace, 4-H educator. He said the project was just another way to get children interested in growing and preparing produce to live a healthier lifestyle.

Wallace taught the children the right way to walk through the garden rows to check the vegetables and how to tell if a vegetable is ready to harvest, as well as the best way to pick produce.

Ten-year-old Ross Swimm said gathering vegetables was fun. He learned there were different kinds of okra.

“It’s hard work to keep a garden this good,” Ross said.

County 4-H member Michelle Fisher, 10, appreciated the garden’s fragility.

“Gardening is easy and kind of hard, too,” said Fisher. “You have to be careful because you don’t want to step on any of the plants.”

Karissa Richardson, 10, also found out how to pick vegetables properly.

“We had to twist and then pull when picking the vegetables,” Karissa said. “The squash is very prickly.”

Elijah Manes, 10, agreed with Michelle about staying off the plants. He learned the best way to pick squash.

“Don’t yank on it,” said Manes.

4-H member,10-year-old Clayton Wallace enjoyed the cooking class.

“I’m down here with my friends, picking vegetables that we’ll be using later,” said Clayton

Wallace indicated the squash and cucumbers have come in well, and the okra is just now starting. By the end of the week, the tomatoes should be in good shape, too.

That means the tomatoes will be ready, along with many others, for the produce sale held every Friday, beginning July 12, from 9 to11 a.m. at the OSU Extension garden next to Normal Club Cleaners on College Avenue.

While Wallace and his 4-H crew were at the garden, Winn had her members preparing some of the ingredients and utensils needed for their vegetable-loaded menu.

The cooking school was designed to teach students how to make vegetables the main dish, not a side dish.

“They are also learning basic measuring and how to clean vegetables,” said Winn. “We’ll have some breaded and baked vegetables. They’ll taste and understand the difference, then we’ll talk about the nutritional values and the differences between the two.”

During the cooking process, members learned some of the little things that make up cooking.

Alexis Pavey, 12, found out how to zest a lemon.

Ten-year-old Laine Forrest now knows how to cut squash now.

“I can help my mom fry squash now,” said Laine.

Laine’s cooking partner, Gracie Davenport, also 10, learned how to cook squash.


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