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They were talking turkey

By Staff | Nov 22, 2012

KRISTY HESS, right, a 4-H leader and master food volunteer, teaches knife skills to 4-H members, Susie Smith, left, 11, of Palmer, and Olivia Anderson, 10, from Pocahontas, as they cut vegetables for bread stuffing.



POCAHONTAS – By 10:30 on a recent Saturday morning, the aromas wafting from the family and consumer sciences room of Pocahontas Area High School hinted at a Thanksgiving feast replete with turkey and all the trimmings.

Even more impressive? The average age of the chefs was 10.

“I’ve had a lot of fun learning about cooking,” said Olivia Anderson, 10, of Pocahontas, as she cut vegetables for bread stuffing during Iowa State University Extension’s Healthy Holiday Dinner cooking class on Nov. 17.

ALLISON DEVEREAUX, 11, from Pocahontas, prepares potatoes for roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

A member of the Guys and Gals of Grant 4-H Club, Anderson worked beside other 4-H members and youth from around the area to prepare a complete Thanksgiving meal, which they could enjoy with the guest of their choice.

ISU Extension specialists, along with Master Food Volunteers like Kristy Hess, helped the pupils learn food safety basics, proper hand-washing techniques, knife skills, food preparation techniques, nutrition information and more during the three-hour workshop.

“I love to cook and garden,” said Hess, a mother of three and a 4-H leader from Fonda. “It’s important to pass along this knowledge to help the next generation learn about cooking and nutrition.”

Hands-on learning

The class experiene was open to all youth in the county, said Lisa Zeman, Pocahontas County youth coordinator for ISU Extension, who noted that a dozen students participated.

LISA ZEMAN, center, Pocahontas County youth coordinator for Iowa State University Extension, used a meat thermometer to teach 4-H members the proper cooking temperature for a turkey.

The workshop offered a healthy menu, with turkey that was roasted, not fried; mashed potatoes made from low-fat milk and limited fat; homemade stuffing that was much lower in sodium than stuffing mix; fresh green beans with no extra sodium, plus fat from soup mixes and French-fried onions; fruit salad made with milk and sugar-free pudding, rather than cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk; pasta salad packed with fresh vegetables; and pumpkin pie that proved dessert can be delicious without the crust.

“We provide the kids with research-based, healthy recipes and promote hands-on learning,” said Carol Ehlers, a northwest 4-H youth field specialist with ISU Extension.

This included a science component where the students learned the importance of cooking the turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, said Ehlers. All participants took a free meat thermometer home.

The Healthy Holiday Dinner event is the latest cooking class offered to youth in the area, Zeman said. She said other popular workshops have focused on homemade caramel rolls, cookies and strawberry jam.

“We have lots of fun,” said Mary Seehusen, 12, from Pocahontas, a member of the Guys and Gals of Grant 4-H Club, who has participated in a number of the workshops. “The time just flies by, and I’ve learned a lot of new things.”

Bread stuffing

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

4 cups day-old bread cubes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup chicken or turkey broth

Cook celery, onion and parsley in butter over medium heat, until vegetables are soft and tender.

Place bread cubes in a large bowl, and pour in vegetables.

Add salt, pepper and broth, and mix well.

Place in a greased, 9-by-9-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes.

Cook until stuffing reaches 165 degrees.

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes

1 whole head of garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil


5 pounds potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup skim or low-fat milk

Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut the top off the garlic head, exposing the tops of the cloves.

Place garlic head on a piece of aluminum foil. Pour olive oil on cut edge and sprinkle with thyme. Bunch aluminum foil around the garlic head and bake about 45 minutes.

Allow garlic to cool slightly, then break into cloves and squeeze each clove to remove soft garlic. Mash on a plate until creamy. Set aside.

Bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil, and add potatoes.

Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving some of the water in a separate bowl.

Return potatoes to pan and add butter. Warm the milk in the microwave for about 1 minute, or warm the milk in a saucepan on the stovetop.

Milk may curdle slightly, but this is normal.

Mash potatoes or grind potatoes through a food mill. Add milk and garlic to potatoes.

Add some of the hot potato water if mashed potatoes are too stiff. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Turkey gravy

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or pan drippings from a roasted turkey

4 tablespoons flour

3 cups chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the flour and stir constantly until the flour turns dark brown.

If the mixture starts to smoke, reduce the heat, but continue cooking until the dark color is achieved.

The flour mixture should be a tint darker than the desired color of the gravy. The browning will take about 10 minutes; stir constantly.

Add the chicken stock and continue to stir until the mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat to low, so gravy continues to simmer slowly for about 14 minutes.

Stir occasionally. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Gravy will thicken as it cools.

Fresh green bean saute

2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add green beans and cook; stir often until seared in spots, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Push beans to the side. Add garlic and additional olive oil, if necessary Cook until fragrant, about 20 to 30 seconds.

Cover green beans and reduce temperature to low.

Add 1/2 cup water, cover and cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.

(If using cookware other than multi-ply stainless steel, cover green beans with water, reduce heat to medium low, and continue to cook until beans are tender.)

Once green beans are cooked, remove from heat; stir in balsamic vinegar.

Pasta salad

4 cups cooked pasta

2 cups fresh broccoli florets

2 carrots, sliced thinly

1/2 of a green pepper, chopped

1/2 of a red onion, chopped

1 15-ounce can beans, drained and rinsed (your choice of kidney beans, garbanzo beans, etc.)

1/2 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing

Use any shape of pasta desired.

Start with about 2 cups of uncooked pasta to get 4 cups of cooked pasta.

Wash and chop all of the vegetables. Combine all ingredients, and mix well.

Cover and refrigerate. Stir the salad before serving.

Magic fruit salad

1/2 pound seedless grapes (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks

2 bananas

2 kiwi

1 3/4 cups skim milk

1 4-serving package of sugar-free instant lemon or vanilla pudding mix

Rinse the grapes. If young children will be eating, cut the grapes in half to prevent choking.

Drain juice from pineapple. Peel and slice kiwi. Put grapes, pineapple and kiwi in a large bowl.

Peel the bananas and cut into bite-sized pieces. Combine with the rest of the fruit.

Pour the milk over the fruit. While slowly stirring the fruit mixture, sprinkle in pudding mix. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Guiltless pumpkin pie

2 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or 3 / 4 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

1 5-ounce can evaporated fat-free milk (about 2 / 3 cup)

Low-fat whipped topping and additional ground cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate; set aside.

Place eggs in a large bowl; beat with a fork or whisk. Add sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt.

Stir until mixed well. Stir in pumpkin and evaporated milk. Pour into prepared pie plate.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until center is set.

Remove pie from oven and cool on wire rack. If desired, add a spoonful of low-fat whipped topping to each serving, and sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

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