Friday, June 27, 2014

Cook Like a Chef 2014 - That's a Wrap!

Today started with a bang, or you could say... a leak! Maintenance were the first to arrive to tackle the small water spot noticed on the ceiling. Once that was taken care of, Marilee rounded out the week with a presentation on MyPlate, as well as some ways campers may be able to eat in a more balanced way. Campers even received their own MyPlate to help them practice eating balanced meals. Next, we asked campers to complete a few surveys and a post test so we can see what they learned this week, and also use their responses in improving the camp and writing research articles like this one! Thank you, again, to Dr. Marge Condrasky and Michelle Kuntz for joining us this week!

Thank you Jan and Marge for all of your hard work - it was delightful having you! 

Next, Chef demonstrated how to make a perfect omelette and campers got to make their own using whatever ingredients they wanted. Ham and cheese proved to be the favorite while some campers got more adventurous with different veggies. Once campers enjoyed their breakfast, they learned how to make a homemade pizza from scratch. Campers headed back to their kitchens once the demonstration was over to make their own pizza. Some kitchens made one type of pizza, while others split theirs into three different kinds. Whichever way they chose to make their pizza, it was sure to come out scrumptious!!

Our special guest from Monday, Derek Polay, was back again! This time, he came with his carving knife and entertained many of our campers while they waited for the pizzas to cook. Derek impressed us all with his skills as he carved delicate roses into the side of watermelon and birds of paradise out of pears. 
Derek carving his watermelon roses as campers watch intently.

Campers were in their seats by 11:45 to hear one last word from Chef, perhaps one of the most important ones of the weeks... etiquette! As campers listened, the pizzas came out of the oven and other favorite dishes from the week made their way back into the kitchens. We saw appearances from apricot bars, raspberry mango salsa, fried plantains, ice cream, oatmeal bread, chili, and peach pie... just to name a few.

Friends and family poured into the Foods Lab in 007 Henderson at noon to enjoy the delicious food and beverages campers prepared throughout the week. Campers toured their loved ones around the lab to different kitchens for the opportunity to sample all different types of food. An award ceremony followed, where each camper was recognized and awarded a medal and a special title. Cook Like a Chef! Camp 2014 proved to be a tasty time. Throughout the week, campers skills have improved and their palettes expanded - it's amazing to see how far they've come in just a week's time! 

A big thank you to all of our counselors, volunteers, and helpers, this week would not have been possible without you. Finally, Thank you to Chef Anne Corr who began this camp with a vision. Since then, that vision has come to life, and it would not have been possible without her passion and dedication to this community. As this is her last year as program director, we are sad to see her go, but are already looking forward to her successor, Meghan McCracken, filling those shoes. Cook Like a Chef! 2015 is in excellent hands. 
The hat has been passed! 

We hope to see you again next summer! 

PS - If your child left anything behind in the Foods Lab this week, please contact Lisa Clapper, PSU Outreach Program Coordinator, at!

From the Eyes of a Camper - Featuring Guest Blogger, Emma Henry

Here at Cook Like a Chef, we have a very ambitious group of campers. Among them is Emma Henry, a 7th grader at Strath Haven Middle School. Emma is new to camp this year, but she seems to be right at home in the kitchen. She has a passion for food, and a passion for writing. She hopes to combine the two, aspiring to be a food writer. We're very excited to feature her as our guest blogger as a prequel to today's festivities! Emma truly captures what Cook Like a Chef! is like "from the eyes of the camper". 

...Take it away, Emma!

Emma and her teammate, Kelly, work together to create a classic, creamy favorite: ice cream!

Everyone loves food, right? Well, this week at Cook Like a Chef cooking camp at Penn State University, I got to make and eat many different kinds of food that I probably wouldn't try at a restaurant or at home. Some foods included watermelon gazpacho (a cold soup), corn fritters, and sweet potato doughnuts. Though some foods seemed a little odd, they really surprised me with their flavors. The theme this week was MyPlate, which is a program for eating healthier. We made many everyday foods with ingredient substitutes to make them better for you. The foods didn't taste any different than they would with the usual ingredients. Everything was great; I certainly liked the fact that you got to make your own food. Everyday, each group would make a different dish and then serve it at a big lunch at 11:30. We were also given a booklet of all the recipes we made at camp. I am excited to be able to try some camp recipes at home. Some of my favorite things about cooking camp were the counselors, the foods, and the freedom. The counselors were really kind and they taught you a variety of things each day. The foods were different than what I would normally eat and very fun to make. I also loved having freedom to do things that I couldn't do at home, like using all sorts of kitchen tools. Not everyone has to watch you either. You get to make the food and use all the tools and we are given independence to work. Some of my favorite foods we made were manicotti, puppy chow, pecan crusted dijon tilapia, ice cream, chili, peanut butter bars, and linguine with clam sauce. Also, if you are lactose intolerant or a vegetarian, there are always options for you like veggie burgers, which were very good. All in all, I loved cooking camp. I enjoy cooking and this was a chance to explore my creative cooking side. I recommend this camp to anyone and everyone. It was so fun and anyone who loves to cook will enjoy this camp. 
-- Emma Henry  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dabbling with Dairy, Pumped up with Protein!

To begin the day, we revisited the homemade Ricotta cheese started yesterday (Thanks for your help, "Team Cheese")! Teams 3 & 4 used the ricotta later to create manicotti with homemade crepes and marinara sauce. Delicious! Chef explained how the milk and vinegar react and separate into curds and whey... the first science lesson of the day.

Carolyn then spent some time discussing the dairy food group and why it is so important to make sure dairy is found in your diet..especially when you're at a growing age. Campers then were able to sample many different types of milk - including different types of lactose free milks, as well! It was interesting to see the difference 

Meg then told us all about protein and it's importance in the diet! Campers learned how to pair two incomplete proteins together to make a complete protein, like eating rice with beans or hummus with pita bread. (Both two dishes that were later created in the kitchen for sampling at lunch time!)

Presentations and discussion ended earlier than usual so cooking began earlier than usual... leaving lots of time for campers to make wildcard recipes, and their own chef hats with the help of Jan. Katie, and Marilee. Along with budding chefs, we also have some budding artists tucked away here in 007 Henderson! Prepare for the unveiling tomorrow, or get a sneak peak via the linked caption:)

The meals today were delicious -- campers were able to sample a wide range of protein and dairy foods. From veggie burgers and linguine with clam sauce, to appetizers and desserts, we sure had one of the best spreads of the week! 

As the week comes to a close, none of us can believe how quickly the Cook Like a Chef! Camp 2014 has gone by! Campers have learned so much the past couple of days, it's amazing how quickly their skills have improved. Campers are looking forward to showing off their favorite dishes tomorrow during the reception from 12PM - 1PM in the Foods Lab in 007 Henderson Building. All family members all welcome; bring those appetites! We hope to see you there!

Want to see more photos from today? Click on the linked caption below the photo! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fantastic Foods: Featuring... Fruits and Fats!

Happy humpday! Can you believe we're already halfway through Cook Like a Chef?! Today was a whirlwind dayWe began the day first with a review of Monday's lesson - how do we taste? All five tastes - sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami - were set to make an appearance in today's recipes!  Jenny lead the discussion about the benefits of including a lot of colorful fruit in your diet... especially now (in the summer) when so many fruits from local farms and orchards are in-season and available! Everyone seems to have their favorite fruit and a favorite way to have it prepared. Once the PowerPoint was over, Chef gave a great demonstration of how to use a melon baller and how to cut different types of fruits - it was quite the display. Campers then were able to sample the different types of fruits, like sweet canary melon, mango, and kiwi, and also practiced making fancy melon balls to use in their fruit salads come cooking time.

Heather then lead the Fats discussion about the different types of fats and their characteristics, as well as the benefits of healthy fats, like Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Next up -- Cooking time!

Now that we're into Day 3, campers have a better sense of where to find their ingredients and tools, are working with their partners as a team, and are overall becoming very efficient in the kitchen. This made for a fast cooking time for a lot of the kitchens, and many of them got to make one of the wildcard recipes too! Once 11:30 came around, all of the dishes were up front (with beautiful presentation, of course) and ready to be served. Some of the highlights from today include blueberry pie, raspberry marinated pork tenderloin, watermelon gazpacho, corn fritters, sesame chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, and potato doughnuts! 

Campers had a delicious lunch today and discovered that Fruits and Fats make some mighty tasty combinations, but can also be quite delicious on their own. Before we wrapped up the day, we had a few more fun things to go over. Once recipes were chosen for tomorrow, Chef demonstrated how to make homemade ricotta cheese. Her team of Sous Chefs Lilli, Lily, and Kaylyn, AKA "Team Cheese", assisted. Campers also watched a special dishwashing presentation. That's right Mom and Dad, your campers are now master dishwashers. Make sure you put their knowledge to the test! Michelle then led a fun presentation about MyPlate to close out the day.

 We have only two days left, and with Dairy and Protein being featured tomorrow... we're all wondering -- what will they make for us next?!

Want to see more photos from today? Click on the linked caption below the photo!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gobbling up Grains, Venturing with Vegetables

It's Day 2 of Cook Like a Chef 2014, and campers did not waste any time getting started. Our first food group? Grains! While listening to Terra's PowerPoint about the health benefits of whole grains, the campers tried three kinds of store bought bread to see which they preferred: regular white vs. white wheat vs. brown whole wheat. Taste preferences varied, but now they have a different idea of what types of bread and grains are out there! Fun fact: the white wheat packed more fiber than the 100% whole wheat. Lesson of the day - always read the nutrition label! Chef then demonstrated how to make a loaf of homemade bread so all of the campers could make a loaf to take home! (Make sure you sample some... it's delicious!)

Kristina's Vegetable PowerPoint explained the benefits of including a lot of vegetables in your daily diet. Variety is important to ensure you are getting all of your nutrients! Campers sampled exotic vegetables like fennel, celery root, and kohlrabi as they listened. Cooking time was very busy as campers developed their recipes and kneaded their bread. Campers delivered their dishes to the "Food Lab Buffet", and then patiently waited for meal time to begin. Their taste buds were treated to a colorfully arranged veggie crudite platter as an appetizer, followed by an array of dishes like Whole Wheat Pasta with Zucchini and Walnuts, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake, Granola, Pretzels, Vegetarian Chili, and Mashed Potatoes (just to name a few). 

We wrapped up the day with a quick demonstration of a simple, easy, and refreshing snack - a watermelon fresca! Ingredients needed? Watermelon, water, and ice. A perfect summer refresher, or after-school snack! We have lots of leftovers from today, so many of these dishes will be making an appearance at Friday's reception! We hope you will enjoy them as much as the campers did, and that these recipes will find their way onto your family's dining room table in the next couple of weeks!! 

Want to see more photos from today? Click on the linked caption below the photo! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cook Like a Chef! -- Off to the Kitchen!!

Michelle traveled all the way from South Carolina to experience camp this week -- Welcome campers!!

It's that time of year again -- Cook Like a Chef is back in action! The day was off to an early start as families began to arrive around eight to settle in their campers; by nine we had nearly everyone ready to start the day! Some might have still been a little sleepy, or still waiting for their breakfast to digest, but that didn't last long! There's nothing better than starting your day off in the kitchen.

We're very happy to have Dr. Marge Condrasky and her student, Michelle Kuntz, here with us this week all the way from Clemson University in South Carolina. Dr. Condrasky has been participating and conducting research with the Cook Like a Chef! camp for years. Her research has been instrumental in improving nutrition and culinary education for adolescents. Marge and Michelle oversaw the distribution of the surveys, and campers answered all the questions, whether they made sense initially, or not. (What is "mise en place" anyway?) Campers will fill out the same surveys on Friday to see what they've learned! 

By the end of the day, campers had already discovered new knowledge -- by doing! The campers practiced their culinary terminology with a fun flashcard video, learned how to measure dry and liquid ingredients, and discovered how we taste. Campers formed groups of three and settled in at their second home (the kitchen) for the week. They then completed a Hide 'n' Seek activity that showed them what was available to use in their new homes

Campers were in for a real treat when camp veteran, Derek Polay, came in to share his story. Derek participated in Cook Like a Chef! a few years ago, which ignited his own culinary dreams. Since the days of cooking camp, Derek has built up quite the resume. He has worked at Gigi's restaurant and previously Sugar on Top bakery, just to name a few. He will be using his experience (starting with Cook Like a Chef!) and taking his dreams to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, where he will continue to develop his culinary education and passion. Congratulations, Derek! We're all very, very excited to see what your budding future may hold...perhaps a "Michelin Star"?! Who knows - maybe we'll see a 2014 camper again in a few years to tell us about their future culinary ambitions and dreams come true!  

Derek and Chef Anne Corr then showed the campers how to prepare Minestrone Soup in 25 minutes flat -- after the mise en place was assembled, of course-- and then all the odd numbered units went back to make their own soups. Campers in even numbered units made big, green salads filled with veggies of their choice and tossed in a homemade vinaigrette.

What happens when you combine teamwork, a kitchen, and some fresh and local ingredients? A delicious meal, of course! Campers sat down together to beautifully set tables to share the well-balanced lunch they created as a team. They even got to indulge with Chef Corr's specialty cookies! There are a lot of budding chefs in these kitchens in 007 Henderson, and it is exciting to watch them use their own creativity and knowledge to create new and exciting dishes. Tomorrow they'll really begin to explore their palettes with grains and vegetables... we have some tasty recipes to explore! 

Want to see more photos from today? Click on the linked caption below the photo!