Friday, July 27, 2012

Home at Last!

Home again, home again--right back to Centre County. The American Chef: Road Trip! program ended today.  We started our morning with a continental breakfast bar of cereals, muffins, and fruit.  Chef did a green smoothie demo which was delicious!  The pineapple and other fruit flavors were so strong that we didn’t even taste the kale!  She then showed us how to make a pizza that we all made for the reception.
The campers came up to the demo area to make their own pizza and some very unusual dishes were created. There was a potato pizza, some pies with vegetables, ham, pineapple, bacon and many versions of the traditional sauce, cheese and pepperoni.

As the clock ticked toward noon, the pace in the lab quickened. There was no time for wii and DDR today! There were chef hats to make, name cards to write and many, many dishes of leftovers from the Road Trip to heat, garnish and identify.  Punch bowls were filled, plates and napkins distributed and the final test was given for the study. As parents and siblings gathered outside the door, chef went over an etiquette presentation about what to expect during the event and then at noon the door burst open and the room filled up with families eager to taste what they had heard about all week.

Once everyone had a glass of Apple Cider-Raspberry Shrub Punch or Lemon-Lime-Ade and something to eat, a thank you presentation and awards ceremony was given by chef.
Well, we learned a lot this week and tried tons of new foods which we loved!  But, no matter how far you travel and no matter how much you enjoy the foods of other regions, there is no taste like home!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Last Stop: New England and the Mid-Atlantic!

The morning started bright and early with Chef showing us how to properly use a melon baller, and we all got to try it on some juicy cantaloupe and honeydew.  She also demonstrated the craft of the day- chef hats!  We can’t wait to wear them at the reception tomorrow.
The Road Trip continued as we headed north to New England and the cold waters of the North Atlantic, full of lobster, clams and fish.  Jess led us through Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, sharing insider's info on the region.

Jenna brought us back to our region, the Mid-Atlantic states, and we toured New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The photos in the Powerpoint were all familiar and many of the campers could identify what was in the pictures--the boardwalk in Bethany Beach, the Liberty Bell, the White House, and the Finger Lakes.

Many of the dishes for lunch were comfort foods--Chicken Pot Pie, Baked Beans, and Creamy New England Clam Chowder.   Some of the dishes were familiar snack foods--Hot Wings with Blue Cheese Dip and Celery Sticks, Funnel cakes and Cattails made with pretzel sticks. Fresh fruit starred in the Blueberry Cornbread and also in the Raspberry and Apple Cobbler that was served with rich Ice Cream.  We also enjoyed some yummy groundhog cookies (no groundhogs were harmed in the making) with some ice cream to represent snow.  We had the option of seeing our shadows or not, by adding some Hershey's syrup!

We are excited to show off some of our creations tomorrow, so don’t forget to join us as we head for home--and our final reception--on our Road Trip!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday: The Heartland and The South!

We started this morning by helping Chef out by doing some inventory.  We went through our units to make sure all of our equipment, dishes, and utensils were in their proper places.  Following that, we were able to relax a little bit and enjoy our Apple Cheddar Bread from yesterday (it was delicious!) and listen to some riveting presentations from our counselors about the regions of the day.

The Road Trip continued as we swept through the Heartland of America, through fields of sunflowers and corn in Iowa to the towering skyscrapers of Chicago perched on Lake Michigan. Tara filled us in on the Southwest, Paige enlightened us with some views and fun facts of the Heartland, and Maddy taught us all about the southern states.  The flavors of the region depend on simple ingredients.  Representative dishes included Macaroni and Cheese, Fried Potatoes, Cinnamon Crunch Muffins and fragrant Sassafras Tea. The Buckeye production involved many hands and proved to be a 2 day effort--we'll finish them tomorrow!

Heading down South we toured the the Mississippi Delta region, listening to zydeco music by Clifton Chenier while we cooked Grits, Collard Greens, Blackeyed Peas for Hoppin John, Sesame "Fried' Chicken, Hush Puppies, Cajun Catfish and "Fries" and Sweet Potato Pie. The campers were busy all morning  Keep a lookout as we round the next bend and head to the cool ocean waters of the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic on our Road Trip!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

First Stop: California and the Pacific Northwest!

The campers rolled in to a scrolling ppt taken from the front seat of a car traveling north on Highway 101 in California, the Pacific Ocean crashing on the left and redwoods towering on the right.  Alyssa led the tour of the great American west, starting in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Bridge. The campers heard all about Napa Valley and Marin County, where the Marin Agricultural Trust tries to keep the farms there from selling out to the developers. Everyone wants to live in California! Next we moved up the coast to the Pacific Northwest and heard about the Native American tribes. Thanks to the bounty of the sea and forest, the population there has always been gifted with natural abundance, living off the fruits of the fertile land. Traveling through the Southwest and Texas, the geography changed dramatically to high desert and eerie wind swept plains.

Eggs were front and center as chef showed how to cook a soft boiled egg (for 3 minutes) and then a hard boiled egg (for 10 minutes) using a handy egg timer gadget.  Next was a roux demonstration and the campers learned how to make a Bechamel Sauce. Just in time—Katelyn, Katerina, and Morgan needed to do that for their recipe!

Soon the campers were back in their units, baking potatoes, zesting oranges and lemons, chopping vegetables for chili and salad. It was quite a kitchen session! While listening the the Songs from the Vineyard, the campers made themselves a potlatch of interesting dishes, very nicely arranged--and tasty too!

The buffet lunch included the perfectly sauced Chicken Tetrazzini, California Club Salad with Avocado and Bacon, Orange County Muffins, Monte Cristo Sandwiches, Steak Fajitas, Refried Beans, Mexican Rice, Blueberry Pudding Cake, Ranger Cookies, Buffalo Chili, Twice Baked Idaho Potatoes,Teriyaki-glazed Salmon, Plum Crisp and Nectarine Crisp, Peach Cobbler and several variations of Strawberry Lemonade. The Apple Cheddar Bread wasn't ready in time, but it sure smelled good!

After lunch, the campers learned how to make a Blueberry Bliss smoothie—banana, blueberry, with almond milk, almond butter, and a dash of cinnamon. That ended the day and tomorrow continues our Road Trip across the United States. Next stop on our Road Trip: the Heartland!

Monday, July 23, 2012

American Chef: Road Trip!

American Chef:  Road Trip!  launched this week with 31 campers preparing to go on a virtual journey across the United States in search of the regional flavors that make this country great.  Today the campers began by filling out paperwork and surveys for the research aspect of the camp, then learned simple kitchen procedures such as measuring, knife handling, and dishwashing. The campers watched a short video on handwashing and a longer one on culinary terms that they will be using all week. After the basic lab procedure was explained, it was time for a Hide ‘n Seek activity to make everyone familiar with the location of various kitchen tools.  Campers chose partners and settled into their kitchens for the week.  After a discussion about various salts, especially Kosher salt and table salt, the campers learned the Power of Salt when they sampled pasta cooked with and without. What a world of difference!   

Then the stir fry demonstration began. Chef showed the campers how to chop different vegetables and stir fry them in a wok. Mise en place--getting everything ready beforehand so the actual cooking goes smoothly--was demonstrated, so that all the campers can now look like the chefs on the Food Network. The campers  decided which vegetables and protein they wanted in their stir fry (chicken ruled!) and then the chopping began! Soon the woks were sizzling and lunch was well on its way. White rice, brown rice, brown Basmati rice—just try to avoid the Minute Rice unless you forget. While the campers ate their stir frys chef demonstrated the all important dishwashing technique so that everyone knew just what to do. Day One was a wrap.  Tomorrow begins our Road Trip across the United States. California here we come!

Central PA Live!

In case you missed it, here is the link to the piece that WTAJ did on our camp!  Check it out.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wrapping Up

First thing this morning, the campers were asked to complete a slew of surveys and a post test so we can see what they learned this week and make camp even better for next summer! Next, Cody gave us a presention on MyPlate and some ways to eat in a more balanced way.  We also learned how to track our food on  Then, Chef demonstrated how to make a perfect omelet and the campers got to make their own omelets using whatever ingredients they wanted. Ham and cheese proved to be the favorite omelet ingredients among the campers. After we all enjoyed freshly made omelets, the campers learned how to make homemade pizza and each group made one for the reception. Other favorite dishes from throughout the week – such as linguini with clams and puppy chow – were served as well. Before the reception began, the campers were given a quick lesson in etiquette.
The reception started as parents, family and friends poured into the Foods Lab and enjoyed the delicious food and beverages that the campers prepared. An award ceremony followed in which each camper was recognized and awarded a medal and special title. Cook Like a Chef Camp 2012 proved to be great time – we look forward to seeing you all next summer!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dairy and Protein

Today started with Chef showing the delicious homemade Ricotta cheese made in front the day before.  Thanks Team 3!  They used it later to make manicotti with homemade crepes and marinara sauce (YUM!).  She explained how the milk and vinegar react and separate into curds and whey.  Jess spent some time discussing the dairy food group (including a milk tasting!), and Paige told us all about protein. The campers learned how to pair two incomplete proteins together to make a complete protein – like eating rice with beans or hummus with pita bread. Then it was time to hit the kitchen, where the campers made a ton of tasty dishes – we barely had room on the buffet line for all of them! We had some special guests from Central PA Live come to get some interviews with our campers and some footage of us cooking.  The segment about our camp will air tomorrow on WTAJ!  The campers are looking forward to showing off their favorite dishes tomorrow during the reception from 12-1pm in the Foods Lab in 007 Henderson Building – Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fruits and Fats

Whew! Busy day with lots of excitement.  We started our day with Tara leading the lively discussion about the benefits of including a lot of colorful fruit in your diet, especially in the summer when so many local fruits are available. It seems that everyone enjoys fruit in many ways and has a favorite. After the Powerpoint discussion chef showed how to use a melon baller to make fancy little melon balls for fruit salads or fruit kebabs, which many of the campers did later. The Fats discussion by Raya was very technical about the benefits of healthy fast like those that contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, and it all made more sense with the olive oil tasting that followed. EVOO was a clear favorite. 
During the cooking time, some nutritionists from the PA Tracks, a part of the USDA's Supplemental Nutririton Assistance Program, and some funders of Cook Like a Chef Camp, came to observe our day.  They were very impressed by the great questions the campers were asking and at the enthusiasm we showed in the kitchen.  They also thought our food was delicious!
Fruits and Fats make some mighty tasty combinations--and we will have the pies at the reception on Friday since they were too hot to slice. Enjoy blueberry season this summer!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grains and Vegetables

After a quick palate tune up with mysterious samples of the 5 basic tastes, campers learned all about Grains--6 ounces a day.  At least half should be whole grains.  While listening to Raya's ppt about the health benefits of whole grains, the campers tried three kinds of store bought bread to see which they preferred--regular white (less than 1 gram of fiber per serving)  vs white wheat wheat (3 grams of fiber per serving) vs brown whole wheat (4 grams of fiber per serving). Results varied, but now they know! Chef demonstrated how to make a loaf of homemade bread so all the campers could make bread to take home. Jenna's Vegetable ppt explained the benefits of including a whole lot of brightly colored vegetables in your daily diet. Campers sampled sugar snap peas, golden cherry tomatoes, slivers of celery root and leaves of Belgian endive while they listened.  Cooking time was busy!  But all the hard work paid off with an artfully arranged crudite platter with dips, and a big sampling of grain and vegetable dishes. Add more unusual vegetables to your daily diet?  No problem!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Testing, 1-2-3!

After a bit of unfortunate confusion for some families with registration in the parking lot near East Henderson, we finally corralled all 36 of our campers and started the program in Room 007 North Henderson. Commander Cody oversaw the distribution of the surveys and campers answered all the questions, whether they made sense or not.(What is "mise en place" anyway?)  By the end of the day, they had learned some of the answers--by doing!  The campers heard all about how to measure dry and liquid ingredients and then did a Hide 'n Seek activity that showed them what was available at their station. Lucky us--Dr. Marge Condrasky from Clemson showed up in time to see us in action and to help with the ingredient distribution.. Campers formed groups and settled in to their own piece of real estate for the week. Campers watched Minestrone Soup be made in 25 minutes flat--after the mise en place was assembled-- and then all the odd numbered units went back to make their own soups.  Campers in even numbered units made big green salads.  The reward came when they all sat down at beautifully set tables (thanks Mia!) to share the fruits--and vegetables--of their labors!

We are--READY!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

All Systems GO!

Sunday night before the launch of Cook Like a Chef !The Basics, 2012.  The counselors are rolling in for our meeting.