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Published: Sunday, 8/2/2009

Cooking up fun! YMCA's summer Culinary Camp gives kids hands-on experience

BY KATHIE SMITH
BLADE FOOD EDITOR
Ally Devries, 8, is excited when Culinary Camp instructor Amy Tanner takes the monkey bread the campers made from the oven. Ally Devries, 8, is excited when Culinary Camp instructor Amy Tanner takes the monkey bread the campers made from the oven.
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Kids happily did the dishes, swept up crumbs on the floor, stirred batter in a bowl, and flipped pancakes. They had a real sense of accomplishment and a good time plus plenty of food at Session 1 of Culinary Camp.

Culinary Camp, an indoor and outdoor experience, was among the YMCA/JCC Wolf Creek specialty camps held this summer. Each of the two sessions of the culinary program has 10 to 15 children ages 6 to 12. The day camp features kitchen safety, math, science, and social etiquette, according to Diana Jacobson, family program director.

At the beginning of the first session, instructor Amy Tanner gathered nine girls and one boy to give them an overview. Then the first order of business was to wash their hands with warm water and soap and to put on a hair net. For many of the youngsters, it was the first time they had seen the sheer fabric that would keep their hair out of the eyes and out of the food they would cook.

We cook a different item each day, said Mrs. Jacobson. The camp uses the indoor kitchen and outdoor campsite at Maumee Valley Church in Springfield Township.

Laura Rodriguez, left, assistant director, helps Madelyn Jeffrey,7, Ally Devries, Ashley Moylan, 13, and Gabrielle Whitzel, 6, mix pancake batter. Laura Rodriguez, left, assistant director, helps Madelyn Jeffrey,7, Ally Devries, Ashley Moylan, 13, and Gabrielle Whitzel, 6, mix pancake batter.
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On Day One, the children baked sugar cookies with a chocolate candy on top. It involved measuring, breaking an egg, and baking. Sierra Strong, 10, of Toledo, tended to the mixer.

On Day Two, the kids were so enthusiastic that they wanted to cook before Mrs. Tanner taught how to set the table. Taco in a Bag was prepared.

Mrs. Tanner demonstrated to the children how to brown the meat on the stove top and then add the taco seasoning. Each child had a bowl to fill with crushed tortilla chips.

The tacos were really good, said Mrs. Tanner.

Everyone loved it.

Outdoor Cooking was the theme for Day Three.

But the culinary campers wearing their hair nets took time to bake cupcakes in the kitchen before they went outside it was Ashley Moylan s 13th birthday.

Meanwhile, a campfire was built by YMCA/JCC staff in a wooded area. Then the children filed out with their ingredients in hand: hot dogs, buns, ketchup and mustard, and for dessert marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey s chocolate for s mores.

Sierra Strong holds the plate while Ashley Moylan removes pancakes from the pan. Sierra Strong holds the plate while Ashley Moylan removes pancakes from the pan.
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As they gathered around the picnic table near the fire pit, Mrs. Tanner and day camp director Sarah Maidon discussed fire safety. Stay alert and watch your surroundings, said Mrs. Tanner, noting the fire and the sharp skewers used to cook the hot dogs and marshmallows. We have a hose to use when we leave to make sure the fire is out. Always have a bucket of water nearby.

Assisted by the leaders, the children could feel the heat of the fire. They stretched their arms holding the skewers to cook the hot dogs and then later the marshmallows. Some liked their marshmallows burnt; others like them golden brown. Each camper sandwiched the cooked marshmallow between two squares of graham cracker and a generous square of chocolate.

After the feast, the fire was doused and then the group went back indoors to the kitchen to enjoy their cupcakes.

On Thursday, the theme was Heathy versus Unhealthy, Couch Potato versus Exercising Outside.

The cooking projects were Worms in Dirt made with Oreo cookies, pudding, and gummy worms, and celery sticks spread with peanut butter topped with raisins for Ants On a Log.

We discussed how to choose healthy foods, said Mrs. Tanner. We also made homemade potato chips by baking thinly sliced potatoes.

Friday s lesson was breakfast and its importance to start your day. The kids made monkey bread with refrigerated biscuits. Plenty of pancakes were served with orange smoothy.

For Ally Devries, 8, the best thing for the culinary week was the monkey bread because I got to roll the dough and put it in cinnamon. The refrigerated biscuits were cut in quarters and then dipped in cinnamon-sugar before being placed in a tube baking pan.

Cooking is all about patience, said Laura Rodriguez, assistant director of the camp, as she showed the young culinary students how to make a well in the dry ingredients for pancakes for the first batch. The next time we re going to double the recipe. We re going to use our math skills.

For Sierra Strong, the best thing was the pancakes because I like flipping pancakes.

It s all in the wrist action, said Ashley Moylan demonstrating her careful method.

At the end of the week, each camper had a cookbook of recipes from their experience to take home.

Other specialty camps include arts and crafts, theatre camp, and equestrian camp held at a horse farm. Specialty camps cost $60 for members and $75 for non-members in 2009. We expect to repeat Culinary Camp next year, said Mrs. Jacobson.

Contact Kathie Smith at:

food@theblade.com

or 419-724-6155.



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