4-Hers use cooking skills at 22nd annual event

REED CITY — From pulled rabbit sliders to mini German puff pancakes, 4-H youth cooked up a variety of delectable dishes at the Osceola County 4-H Cookoff on Saturday. The event, which is in its 22nd year, invites 4-H youth to broaden their agricultural understanding by searching for recipes and making food concoctions using their own animals or animal by-products. “It’s about giving youth the opportunity to extend their knowledge of animals to one small animal project to another,” said 4-H Coordinator Jake Steig. “A lot of these kids like to cook and they’ve tried these recipes at home.” Youth competed in three different age groups, each using small animals or items produced by animals in their food. Tanner Ryan, 12, took first place in the intermediate level with his concoction of breakfast grilled cheese with eggs and spinach, a recipe he designed himself. The eggs were laid by his chickens, Hatchet and Sandy. “I got the idea because I like eggs and I like grilled cheese,” Tanner said. “I thought it was interesting to add spinach too.” Practicing different recipes for the past two months trying out different dishes on his family, Tanner decided to enter a second dish, biscuits with chicken gravy. “I find recipes online and them I incorporate my own flavors,” Tanner explained, noting that he garnished each place with pieces of fruit to add color to the dish. Judged by members of the local media, each youth presented their dish and explained the process of making it, while being judged on food aroma, nutritional value, taste, understanding of the recipe and how the food looked. Desiree Reed, 18, won the senior prize with her gluten-free brownies made from goat’s milk, Megan Ebels, 7, won the junior level prize with her German puff pancakes made with home-grown eggs and the Pegasus 4-H group won the group competition with their breakfast pizza. Jade Ebels, 12, came in as a close runner-up in the intermediate competition with her recipe for hot chocolate with home-grown eggs. All recipes cooked by 4-H participants over the past 22 years are logged in a small animal cookbook that is available at the MSU Extension office.