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Food fun

By Staff | Apr 23, 2010

Mary Salocker shows Jacob Lewandowski, right, and Luke Lewandowski how to chop broccoli properly.

If you are a member of 4-H it’s not uncommon to be a part of the beef project, horse project, or even an aerospace project. But what about a foods project?

Webster County 4-H is in the second year of a foods project for its members, gathering 4-H’ers together in the kitchen.

The 4-H foods project meets once monthly throughout the school year under the leadership of Mary Salocker, who brings her expertise into the kitchen with help from her food and nutrition degree.

The 4-H foods project meets at the St. Edmond Catholic School in its kitchen classroom. Salocker said that using the facility has been a big part of what has made the 4-H foods project so successful.

Salocker said this year there have been approximately four to 18 4-H’ers involved in the 4-H foods project and said the last two years combined has seen 50 to 60 participants. Attendance, she added, varies from month to month with some 4-H’ers attending every single food lab and others only attending one or two that they found interesting.

4-H members what they would like to learn to make in the food lab and Salocker said different foods they 4-H’ers have made include homemade spaghetti sauce, pie crust, candy, quiche, stir-fry and cake decorating.

Guest cooks have also made appearances during the foods project meetings, allowing for the 4-H’ers to learn the many different techniques and foods cooks bring to the kitchen.

“The 4-H foods project allows them the opportunity to gather and experience different kinds of foods,” said Salocker.

Regardless of their reasons, Salocker said, the members are learning nutrition basics and how to incorporate good the food into healthy meals.

“I always stress well-balanced meals and we always discuss the food group the item fits in,” said Salocker.

Before each foods lab, the 4-H’ers are notified which items they need to bring, plus an empty container for left-overs.

Jacob Lewandowski, 13, and his brother Luke Lewandowski, 11, are regular attendees.

Luke Lewandowski, in his first year of the project, said making monster cookies was his favorite so far, but was eager to learn how to make stir-fry during a March cooking event.

“It’s fun because if I tried this at home I’d probably burn everything,” he said.

Luke Lewandowski was teamed up during the stir-fry foods lab with Derek Hammitt, 13. Together they were making oriental beef stir-fry.

Hammitt is attending his second year of the 4-H foods project and is looking forward to a foods lab on grilling. Something Salocker said she is working on.

“I like to cook and I’ve learned a lot,” said Hammitt. “Quiche is so far my favorite.”

Jacob Lewandowski was teamed up last month with Charlie Shelton, 16, making chicken stir-fry.

Shelton, also in his second project year, said he makes a few meals at home.

“It helps to figure out how to properly prepare things before you cook it,” said Shelton. “There’s more to it than you think.”

Before the 4-H’ers began their stir-fry lab, Salocker asked them what the three rules to food lab was, and they all recited:

  • Treat people how you want to be treated.
  • Wash hands.
  • Put things back where they were.

Salocker then discussed with the kids about the benefit of stir-fry cooking, which includes proteins with the meats, vegetables and oils.

“Stir-fry is designed to cook things quickly and helps keep the nutrients in,” she said.

The 4-H’ers may use any vegetable they wanted, but had to include at least three different kinds. Salocker instructed they may cut vegetables any way they preferred, but said they should be cut thin.

During the vegetable-cutting process, Salocker was helping each 4-H’er to get the most out of each one and provided tips on cutting.

In addition to becoming more comfortable in the kitchen and preparing different foods, the project allows members to use the communication part of 4-H through educational presentations either during the 4-H foods project or taking their experiences to their 4-H clubs.

A few of the project’s past recipes follow.

Chicken enchiladas

(Provided by a 4-H parent Roni Engeldinger)

1/2 of a whole chicken, cooked

3-4 cups of shredded Colby cheese

1/2 onion

4 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons garlic powder (no salt added)

3/4 teaspoons salt

Pinch ground cinnamon

1/3 teaspoon sugar

5 tablespoons white flour

1 can of chicken broth.

15 corn tortillas

Debone cooked chicken and warm in a skillet with rest of ingredients, except for the tortillas.

When mixture is thoroughly heated, serve with tortillas.


1 package of unflavored gelatin

1/3 cup cold water for gelatin, plus 1/4 cup for syrup

1 cup sugar, plus extra for coating

Food coloring and flavoring is optional.

Piping bags and tips

In a large bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. allow to softened, about 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, sugar and stir over medium-high heat. Wipes sides of pan with wet brush is sugar crystals splatter. Continue to stir until sugar is dissolved.

Place candy thermometer in saucepan and boil mixture until it reaches a soft ball stage, about 238 degrees. Monitor closely. When temperature is reached, immediately remove from heat and add to softened gelatin.

Using a whisk, hand stir the mixture for a few minutes as it cools. Beat with a mixer on medium-high until soft peaks forms and mixture holds its shape – about 10 minutes.

Transfer this marshmallow mixture to large pastry bag, or large Ziploc bag. Immediate piping must be immediate. All of the peeps must be quickly made in one step.

Squeeze bag of peep mixture into shapes on tray covered with wax paper and choice of colored sugar. Spoon colored sugar on top of the shapes as well.

Tri-pinwheel sugar cookies

(Field tested by 4-H’er Heather Ladlie)

1 cup butter (or Imperial margarine, no other)

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, salt and extract. Mix well.

Combine dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Divide in three equal sizes. Add red food coloring to one, green to another and leave one white.

Form into balls and refrigerate for one hour.

Roll out onto wax paper in three equal-sized circles.

Place white circle between the other two. Roll the three circles tightly. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take roll and slice perpendicularly along the roll. Lay each cut flat on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.


(Field tested by 4-H’er Charlie Shelton)

1 beaten egg

3/4 cup soft bread crumbs

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons of finely chopped green pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

12 ounces ground beef, or pork sausage

1/4 teaspoon of salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine egg, egg crumbs, onion, sweet pepper, oregano and salt. Add ground beef and mix well.

Arrange meatballs in a 15-by-10-by 1 inch baking pan.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until done.

Contact Kriss Nelson by e-mail at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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