Annual 4-H cook off educates children
REED CITY — Gathering their ingredients together, along with the clatter of pots and pans, combined with six children’s excited chatter was a perfect recipe for education and fun on Saturday.
There were six children, between the ages of 6 and 18, who demonstrated their cooking knowledge during the 23rd annual Osceola County 4-H Cook Off at Reed City Middle School.
This annual event is sponsored by the 4-H Small Animal Association and is open to all 4-H members in any group project area, said association secretary, Sherry Garrett.
“The children love participating in the cook-off,” Garrett said. “It’s a fun way to educate the kids.”
The only stipulation was the recipes required rabbit, poultry, eggs, or goat as an ingredient.
The children created several dishes that included, individual ham and eggs, mini gluten-free rabbit potpies, rabbit salad, country breakfast casserole with sausage gravy, deep fried pickles, chicken cannellini bean soup, plum cake with goats milk and flourless peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.
Each dish was served to four judges. The judges would ask each young chef what about dish they prepared.
Evart resident, 8-year-old Tanner Ryan wrote that he likes to cook. Plus, he cannot plan on his future wife to do it all. This is the fourth time Ryan has participated in the cook off.
“I’m a returning competitor,” Ryan said as he was sautéing his onions and diced garlic for his casserole. “I have to keep a close eye on my onions and garlic. I don’t want the garlic to get to brown before my onions are translucent.”
Each child showed pride in the meticulous preparation of the food. Another requirement was the dish had to feed four people. The children also had to provide their own tools and ingredients. Four judges critiqued the children’s creations on appearance, aroma, flavor, nutritional value, knowledge of the recipe and communication.
Hersey resident, 13-year-old Jade Ebels was preparing the batter for her deep fried pickles. She said she prefers slices of dill pickles compared to the spears.
“They are more like chips this way,” Ebels said.
Ebels served her pickles with a sides of ranch and honey mustard dressings.
“The (dressings) are made by my mom,” Ebels said. “I like dipping my deep fried pickles in honey mustard. I think that is the best.”
Awards were given to each participant depending on age group and club entry. The idea behind the cook off is to learn valuable life skills such as communication and time management, said Osceola County 4-H Coordinator Jacob Stieg.
“Cooking itself is a great life skill,” Stieg said. “The children enjoy themselves and learn from this experience.”
The children also learn to work with others, how to arrange the finished product and display the product for the judges. They learn sportsmanship that teaches them they did their best to create a recipe that the public would enjoy.
The children also learn complete processes, whether it is the process of growing various types of foods, to completing record books, Garrett said.
“We teach management, to the complete process of growing various types of animals for pets, show animals or for the dinner table,” Garrett added. “When the youth participate in the cook-off, they develop a recipe that fits into one of the categories of meat or egg. They learn how various components fit together to create the final product.”