Young people go to cooking camp because they either like to cook, or they would like to learn how to cook. The easiest way for the cooking teacher to find out their needs and wishes is to ask their parents via email in advance of the camp. By incorporating as many of their favorite foods as possible into the menus, I meet their needs and fulfill their wishes. This method of menu planning takes the guesswork out and gives the youth voice and choice–an important element in their engagement with the program.
Butterflying the chicken on the first day gave the campers a quick lesson on food safety–how to prevent cross contamination with raw meat juices, and how to use a food thermometer.
Before we started cooking each day, we talked about what we were going to make and what to make first, in order for all the dishes to be ready to eat when it was time for lunch.
One day, we visited the Crossroads Farmers Market and watched a culinary demonstration using a mezzaluna knife to prepare two kinds of salsa.
There were many colorful vegetables.
Another day we baked carrot cupcakes from Virginia Willis’ award-winning cookbook, Lighten Up Y’All!
One of our campers during the first week is a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish), and so we provided a vegetarian alternative entree, like rice with lentils, from Food of Life, by Persian cookbook author, Najmieh Batmanglij. It was so delicious that I was glad there were leftovers!
During the second week, we experimented with a variety of frozen desserts. We even came up with our own simple and smooth version of fresh plum sherbet.
Luckily for the campers, we were able to visit Moorenko’s ice cream production facility, located nearby. The young people were impressed that Moorenko’s uses 3,000 pounds of ice cream mixture every week during the summer months. That’s a lot of ice cream, and they have over 100 flavors!
On the last day, we had a taco party, including soft and crispy corn tortillas, ground beef filling (picadillo), tempeh chorizo for our vegetarian camper, fresh salsa, refried beans and chocolate coconut sorbet. It was the ultimate challenge and test of the campers’ cooking abilities, and every dish was so good! I especially liked the refried beans. We melted queso fresco on top–yum!