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The 4-H cooking school: So many opportunities

Youth learning how to properly handle knives with Chris Stark. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
4-H youth making holiday cookies with Courtney Hawkins. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

4-H provides youth K-13 grade (one year past high school) the opportunity to engage in projects and activities that interest them.

Kids can concentrate on one focus area or they can try a variety of projects throughout their 4-H experience. There are more than 200 projects from which to choose.

The 4-H Food & Nutrition project is one of our most popular projects with more than 20 percent of St. Croix County 4-H'ers taking part in it. The project is designed to help youth have fun in the kitchen as they prepare different foods, do fun experiments, and go on fact-finding missions.

The Food & Nutrition project teaches the following topics: healthy food selection, smart food purchasing, food safety and science, food preparation, food preservation, careers, and food from around the world.

4-H programs are grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing. Wanting to provide youth with a hands-on workshop, 4-H volunteers created and planned the 4-H Cooking School. This program would provide 4-H youth with a daylong opportunity to explore the Food & Nutrition project in-depth.

The 4-H Cooking School was held Nov. 12 at St. Croix Central High School.

Youth who attended the workshop rotated between five (one-hour) sessions: cake decorating, safety with knives, food preservation, foods revue, and holiday baking.

Eileen Van Dyk worked with youth on table settings and foods revue.

The 4-H foods revue is an opportunity for youth to create a menu, set a themed table, and cook one item from their menu for a judge.

Youth must explain to the judge why they choose the theme, the food items on their menu, the nutritional facts about their menu, and allow the judge to taste their food item.

The cake decorating session was taught by Beth Sippl. Youth learned the difference between different cake decorating tips, how to properly hold an icing bag, and were able to practice decorating their own cupcakes.

Bonnie Walters taught the food preservation class where youth made and canned their own applesauce from scratch. Youth also learned the science behind food preservation and why preserving food is important.

The safety with knives class was led by Chris and Michelle Stark. Youth gained an understanding of the importance of proper knife handling in the kitchen, different knives and for what they are used, and how to properly cut food using knives.

Rounding out the day, 4-H'ers took part in baking holiday cookies with Courtney Hawkins.

Youth mixed ingredients to make the cookie dough, rolled it out, cut out the cookies, baked them, and finally decorated the cookies to take home.

The youth ended their day full of new knowledge and excited to learn more.

Below is a list of upcoming 4-H Food & Nutrition opportunities in which to become involved in 2017.

• Cake Decorating & Food Revue Judging — June 10;

• Food & Nutrition Judging for the St. Croix County Fair — July 15; and

• 2017 4-H cooking school — Nov. 12.