Erath County 4-H hosted a Junior Chefs camp on Monday for children ages seven to 12.
The camp taught the junior chefs the use of fresh produce and herbs to season foods, safe kitchen practices, waste reduction, gardening and food preparation.
The chefs started their cooking lesson by learning how to make different types of yeast bread.
“Our main focus that they started with is they’re cooking yeast bread, all different kinds, so each kitchen is experimenting with yeast and we’ve got a variety like some cultural breads like a non-bread and a pita bread. We’ve been experimenting with a little bit of different flours so we’re doing a basic of wheat. We have a garlic knot that we’re doing like a little garlic stick. We’ve done a sourdough. We’re doing a French bread and then a basic white bread,” said Paula McKeehan, assistant professor in wildlife, sustainability and ecosystem sciences.
The young chefs also learned how to make spaghetti squash, stuffed zucchini lasagna, quinoa fruit salad, tropical chicken salad and different varieties of apples for the dessert.
“The other goal with our tropical chicken salad and our quinoa fruit salad is to always encourage them to eat more whole grains and get more produce, get more fruits and vegetables,” McKeehan said.
At the end of the camp, McKeehan and the other cooking instructors talked about gluten and how it gives strength to bread.
Jordan Voges, an intern with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, said she loved being able to teach the children how to cook and her favorite part was “seeing the kids learn skills that they can utilize later on in life, some of which are hard for some adults, so it’s good to prepare them for the future.”
Not only did the instructors have fun at the camp, but the kids did as well.
McKeehan’s 11-year-old daughter, Aidyn, said her favorite dish to cook at home is fettuccine alfredo.
“My favorite part about this camp is to cook food I’ve never cooked before and making new friends,” said 11-year-old Audrey Herrin.
Jayci Wallace, 10, said she loves the camp because she gets to “meet new people and share our bond over cooking.”
“I think my favorite thing (about this camp) is encouraging kids to learn more about how fruits and vegetables can taste good,” McKeehan said. “We started it with the garden, but I think when kids go out and they see how something grows, they’re much more likely to try it if they get to pick it, get to taste it, so to help them connect that feel of the plate, growing food, eating food, and then how it can help them to eat more healthy foods.”