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4-H cooking pride

By Staff | Jul 22, 2011

Ashley Presthus, right, discusses her 4-H baking project with Lisa Whitmore, Osceola County 4-H and youth coordinator.

SIBLEY – Ashley Presthus, 16, of Ashton, is excited about showing off her baking skills.

The teen is in her fourth year in the Osceola County’s 4-H program and her third year to enter a food-related project at the county fair.

She said her enthusiasm for food projects is due to learning new techniques and improving her cooking skills.

Presthus said she has enjoyed helping her mother bake since she was a young child.

“My mother creates holiday goodie trays for friends and family each year,” Presthus said. “I have always enjoyed helping her with this project and it has taught me a lot about baking.”

Strawberry meringue cookies, made by Haley Woollmuth, were selected for the Iowa State Fair next month during last week’s Osceola County Fair.

At 13, Ashley used her baking skills to take on a fundraising project with proceeds going to the March of Dimes.

She called her project “Baking for Babies.

“My dad works as an insurance agent and had done some fundraising for the March of Dimes,” Presthus said. “I had the idea to do the same thing selling my baked goods and donating the proceeds.”

Her 2011 4-H food project last week expanded on a 2010 jam project that was rejected at the fair. 4-H guidelines state that all jellies, jams and preserves must be processed according to current USDA guidelines for safe canning.

Presthus’ 2010 jam recipe was not processed properly.Her 2011 recipe followed processing protocol and her reward was a blue ribbon and selection as a state fair alternate.

A fan of Martha Stewart’s, Presthus chose a Stewart recipe for chocolate pretzels.

“I love pretzels and chocolate which is why I chose the recipe,” Presthus said. “I was disappointed in the taste of the first batch I made.

“I altered the recipe and finished them off using my mother’s recipe for chocolate glaze.

“Then I topped them with sanding sugar, a coarse form of sugar my mother uses in decorating her Christmas goodies. I was very pleased with the outcome.”

The pretzels impressed the judge too and will be traveling to the state fair.

Below are two of Presthus’ winning recipes, as well as winning recipes from Megan Block of the Gilman Jr. Farmers 4-H Club and Haley Wollmuth of the Baker Road Runners 4-H Club, both based in Osceola County.

For more information about USDA guidelines for safe canning go to: www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html

Chocolate pretzels

by Ashley Presthus

1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder.

3 teaspoons instant coffee

3 tablespoons boiling water

1/2 cup of butter, room temperature.

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

2 cups of flour

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cups of milk chocolate chips

2 tablespoons shortening

Coarse sanding sugar for sprinkling

Stir cocoa and instant coffee into boiling water in a small bowl until dissolved.

Mix butter and sugar in a bowl and on medium speed until creamy. Add vanilla and salt. Reduce speed and mix in egg, then cocoa mixture.

Gradually add flour and mix until a smooth dough forms. Turn onto a piece of plastic wrap; pat into a square. Wrap dough and refrigerate until cold – at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll into balls. Shape balls into 12-inch long ropes. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.

Space 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Combine chocolate chips in bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted. Add shortening a little at a time mixing until smooth and slightly runny.

Dip pretzels in chocolate to cover. Shake off excess chocolate and place on wax paper.

Allow to harden for a short time and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Peach jam

4 cups of finely chopped peaches

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

5 cups of sugar

Bring boiling water canner, half full with water, to simmer

Wash jars and rings in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water.

Pour boiling water over flat lids; let stand in water until ready to use.

Prepare fruit meaasure exactly 4 cups of chopped peaches into a saucepan. Stir in lemon juice.

Measure exact amount of sugar into a separate bowl.

Stir one box of fruit pectin into fruit. Add 1/2 teaspoon of butter or margarine into fruit to reduce foaming (if desired).

Bring fruit to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly.

Stir in sugar quickly.Return to full rolling boil for exactly one minute stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Ladle quickly into prepared jars to within 1/8 inch of top. Wipe jar rims and threads, cover with lid and ring.

Place jars on rack in canner, lower into canner, water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches.

Cover canner with lid and bring to a gentle boil. Process jam for 15 minutes. Remove jars and allow to cool.

Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours undisturbed.

Mountain berry pie

by Megan Block

Pastry for 9-inch double crust pie

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

dash salt

1/3 cup water

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup fresh strawberries, halved

1 cup fresh raspberries

3/4 cup fresh blackberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon (if desired) salt and water until smooth.

Add blueberries and bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Set aside to cool slightly.

Line the 9-inch pie plate with bottom crust; trim pastry even to edge.

Gently fold the strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and lemon juice into the blueberry mixture.

Pour into pastry and dot with butter. Roll out remaining pastry; make a lattice crust. Trim, seal and flute edges.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350; bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Cool on wire rack. Store in refrigerator.

Strawberry meringe cookies

by Haley Wollmuth

4 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon strawberry or cherry flavoring

6 drops red food coloring

Combine egg whites and salt in a large bowl. Add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Fold in flavoring and food coloring.Spoon mixture into pastry bag with star tip.

Pipe mixture into 2-inch mounds onto a greased baking sheet. Bake until cookies are dry at 200 degrees for 90 minutes.

Contact Robyn Kruger @rangerob@hickorytech.net.

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