Dairy Museum has youngsters cooking up fun this summer

By PATTI SELLS | News-Telegram Feature Writer

July 23, 2007 - Kids have been cookin' up some fun this summer at the Southwest Dairy Museum's Kid's Kitchen Cookin' School from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays through the middle of August.

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Taylor Moore sits atop an old-fashioned ice cream maker to make the cranking easier for Melanie Ford while Valorie Frazier (back left) and Vivian Beasley (back right) wait their turn during the Southwest Dairy Museum Kid's Cooking School.

"It's been a great success," said Carolyn McKinney, museum director and coordinator of the classes. "We even extended the program to five sessions instead of four, and I still had to turn away about 40 kids."

Twelve preregistered students, divided into three groups of four, participate in each three-day session.

The first session began July 9, with other sessions following each week through Aug. 3.

"We skip the week of Aug. 6, then pick back up again on Monday, Aug. 13, for the last week," explained McKinney, who has already began making preparations for eight weeks of cooking classes next year. "It just broke my heart to turn kids away, but I had to."

Students in the 4th grade and up are accepted into the free-of-charge program.

Three color-coordinated kitchen units complete with stoves, pots and pans, dishes, utensils, storage and tables, have been set up. Monday classes begin by teaching students sanitary procedures and measurements for mixing ingredients before moving on to the preparation of a breakfast bread and gravy.

"We don't do a lot of cooking on top of the stove — it's mostly baking," McKinney said. "Each recipe has at least two milk products in it, so the kids learn the value of milk and how milk is important in their daily diet."

Wednesday classes teach table setting, and students prepare an entree of lasagna and French bread. Of course, students eat what they prepare, and whatever is left over they can take home for mom and dad to enjoy, said McKinney.

"They are always excited to go home and show their parents what they learned to do," she added.

�"And we teach them to clean up after themselves," said Samantha Link, one of the instructors. "We tell them 'If you don't clean, you don't eat.'"

With only one cleaning station, all three groups share the sink and take turns doing the dishes.

"EATING" was unanimously the best part of the program, according to Friday's students, who were preparing chocolate cake and homemade ice cream. 

"Friday is dessert day," said McKinney with a laugh. "They're learning to make gooey chocolate cake, and ice cream  the good ol' fashioned way — with rock salt and a hand-cranked ice cream maker."

While the cake baked, students took turns turns cranking the handle on their ice cream makers for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of their metal canister.

"The kids are really excited about it. They love it and can't wait to come back," McKinney emphasized. "And the parents think it's pretty wonderful, too."

At the end of each session, students receive a certificate of accomplishment, along with a recipe booklet, measurement chart, cooking and safety tips, as well as word searches and puzzles pertaining to the dairy industry.

"The response has been very good," McKinney said. "Were looking at all our options to get everyone who wants to participate into next year's program  and not have to turn anyone away." 

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