Kids get hands-on with cooking; OSU Extension Office holds ‘Cook with a Book’


By Sam Wildow

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ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP — With the goal of teaching children the essentials of cooking, the Ohio State University’s Miami County Extension Office hosted a three-day Junior Chef “Cook with a Book” event this week with over 80 participating area children and 25 volunteers.

This was the OSU Extension Office’s third year holding this event. During three days this week, participants assembled meals inspired by a popular children’s book, including “Dragons Love Tacos” on Tuesday, “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” on Wednesday, and “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” on Thursday.

Alisha Barton, extension educator of Family and Consumer Sciences, said she, along with Amanda Bennett, agriculture educator at the OSU Extension Office, were inspired to hold this event after learning that “youth today are up to two generations removed from someone in their home that can teach them how to cook.”

“It’s not that youth today don’t want to cook, it’s that they don’t have anyone that can give them these skills,” Barton said.

She added they also wanted to teach children, not in a traditional classroom setting, but with the ingredients in their hands in the hopes that they will remember those skills later on in life.

“Research also shows that teaching kids to cook isn’t sitting in a classroom,” Barton said. “If it’s hands-on, they’re more likely to retain that information, so we really tried to create an environment where they would smell and taste and be immersed in the different ingredients.”

Barton said they also tried to expose the kids to different foods that are not unusual, like mangoes and avocados, but that may be new to them.

“We want them to have the courage to try new things,” Barton said.

On Wednesday, the children made pancakes, as well as mixed sausage with seasonings and other ingredients for sausage patties, at different stations.

“We talked about meat science and how you add salt to bind the patties together,” Bennett said on Wednesday.

The OSU Extension Office educators, along with the Miami County Farm Bureau, also helped teach the participants about where food comes from, with regard to dairy and agriculture.

The OSU Extension Office also had help from Flying Dough Creative Food Services, out of Tipp City, as well as Haren’s Market and Miami County Public Health, during the career exploration side of the Junior Chef event.

Barton added the volunteers included area teenagers who donated their time to help with the Junior Chef event.

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