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Archive for Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Extension office offering cooking class for beginners

August 8, 2007

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Q: Do you ever have any basic cooking classes?

A: Over the years, this question has been asked many times. Finally, we are excited to announce that a brand-new basic cooking class is being offered through K-State Research & Extension in Douglas County. Just what you always wanted to know about cooking - and never learned from your mother - is what this class, Cooking 101, is all about.

Extension Master Food Volunteers, a relatively new branch of Extension in Douglas County, have been honing their skills as home cooks for years, but more recently as cooks trained in an intensive eight-week course.

The Extension Master Food Volunteers are now excited about sharing their skills and enthusiasm with some beginning cooks. Cooking 101 participants will prepare and sample a variety of dishes, learning various cooking techniques and the basics of healthy eating. During the course, which will meet from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays starting Sept. 11, participants will interact with experienced cooks as they prepare a dish and share samples and thoughts with other class members in a short discussion period which follows. The class will meet at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 21st and Harper streets, in Building 21.

Cost, which includes a cookbook, food and teaching materials, will be $60 per person or $100 per couple. Class registration and fee payment will be accepted through Aug. 31 at the Extension office on the fairgrounds. Any questions about the class can be answered by calling me at 843-7058 or e-mailing skrumm@ksu.edu, or by contacting class organizers Helga Barton at 842-9217, Carole Boulton at 842-4429 or Bar Geyer at 842-6895.

Q: I just watched a cooking show recently where the chefs were using capers in sauces. What are capers?

A: Capers come from the Mediterranean bush Capparis spinosa and are the unopened flower buds. This plant is related to the cabbage family. The buds have a strong sulfur smell. After harvest, the buds are preserved either in brine or vinegar, or are dry-salted.

Capers are commonly used in fish dishes. They should be rinsed before using to remove excess salt, brine or vinegar.

Q: What is Smart Chicken?

A: In commercial chicken-processing facilities, the standard method for chilling the chicken after eviscerating is using a cold water bath. In the last 10 years, a new technology has emerged to change the chilling procedure. The process is air-chilling. One brand that uses this process is Smart Chicken by MBA Poultry in Waverly, Neb. Air-chilled chickens pass through a blast chiller chamber with cold air to drop the chicken temperature without using water. The meat texture is firmer, and many say it has better flavor. Water-chilled chicken can absorb water, which can add 5-12 percent weight to the bird. Water-chilled chicken must be labeled with the percentage of water it absorbed.

Air-chilled chicken is higher in cost due to the specialized equipment, higher energy costs and small market share.

Q: What are empanadas and empanaditas?

A: The difference between empanadas and empanaditas is the size. Empanadas are turnovers of pastry filled with meat, vegetables or a sweet filling. They are popular in South American and Spanish cuisine. The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, which means to wrap or coat in bread. They are baked or fried.

Empanaditas are the same except they are smaller in size, usually two quick bites.

- Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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