Cooking Up A Good Time

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 11, 2009

Most adults shoo kids out of the kitchen when the stove firesup, but the Lincoln County Extension Office is bringing themin.

The agency is accepting applications for Kids in the Kitchen, atwo-day workshop being held throughout the summer that teachesyoung children how to cook easy meals, nutritional facts and basickitchen skills.

The program is for children age 7 and up, free of charge andsessions are held in the afternoon whenever enough participantshave signed up. Interested people may call the office at (601)835-3460 to apply.

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“We try to just let the kids have a little hands-on experience,and they like that,” said Erica Peyton-Walker, a Family NutritionProgram educator who represents the extension office in countyschools. “They like to be able to actually prepare a dish. Thatkeeps it fun, when they get a little messy.”

Peyton-Walker said the program would teach children how tosafely cook easy, inexpensive meals. Two recipes often taught are”pizza on a biscuit,” a quick and cheap way to make small pizzasusing unrolled biscuits and a handful of pizza ingredients; and”ice cream in a bag,” a fast method for homemade ice cream. Shesaid the program would teach only recipes that children can safelymake with limited adult supervision.

“Most of the time, some kids are home alone and they need tolearn the basic skills on how to prepare a meal,” Peyton-Walkersaid. “It’s a necessity, something they need to know how to do. Ifkids learn how to cook at an early age, that’s something they cantake with them as they grow older.”

Tywanda Smith, the extension office’s city school-based FNPeducator, said kitchen and food safety are stressed at every pointin the program.

Children are taught how to safely use more than 30 kitchenutensils. Hands are washed before touching anything used to cook,she said, and children are taught how to keep food and utensilsgerm-free.

“We have a kit that has an ultraviolet light … we shine thelight to show many germs are on their hands,” Smith said. “Theywash their hands, then we do the light again.”

Outside the kitchen, Smith said children are taught food factsas well. She said children will be taught all things food,including nutrition, the food pyramid and even table-setting andetiquette.

Perhaps the greatest unlisted benefit of the program, Smithsaid, is the exchange of knowledge between the children.

“It’s something to get them out and they also get to meet otherchildren,” she said. “One child at their house may make a meal oneway, while another child will make it a different way. They get tointeract with other children. Once they interact, introducethemselves and start talking about the way they cook, they getinterested.”

County Extension Director Rebecca Bates said Kids in the Kitchenis basically an extension of programs Peyton-Walker and Smith teachyear-round in local schools. The program is federally fundedthrough Mississippi State University.

“What’s wonderful is it’s no expense to the county or theparents,” she said.