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Cooking Up Some Fun

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Chris Oseguera
Kevin Garcia and Yenifer Hidalgo start to prep the ingredients for the fajita recipe while Yatziri Ramirez and Juana Gregorio review the recipe to commence cooking their healthy, low-cost fajitas.

Food we all need it to survive, yet only a few at our age know how to prepare and cook it. Most depend highly on their caregivers to provide their meals. Luckily, clubs exist to teach the fundamentals of cooking. A cooking club provides a number of opportunities: it gives one a chance to meet new people, discover foods and ingredients that one might have not come across, and depart with leftovers.  

Cooking clubs, a group in which people gather in a single location, cook large quantities of food, and feast, may specify a type of food or impose a dietary restriction; for example, a number of cooking clubs exist to produce vegan or vegetarian meals. Others may focus on a style; one, for example, may emphasize Mexican cooking one week, then produce Italian or Indian food the next. In doing so, attendants are forced to expand their tastebuds and learn new things to make when cooking outside of the cooking club.

For Courtney Baldwin, the health coordinator at Alisal High School, a cooking club was the perfect way to teach students how to prepare healthy, low-cost meals. “I wanted to teach the students how to cook healthy alternatives to their favorite foods. We accomplish this by using low-cost, healthy ingredients.” Perry Olsen and Lucero Cruz are in the same boat as Baldwin, as they too are advisors to the club. The club consists of about 30 students of all grade levels with an extra 30 waiting for admission.

The club’s purpose was to teach students how to prepare not just healthy meals, but also snacks and drinks. Although Mexican inspired food was the primary focus of the club, they ventured out cooking a wide variety of foods. For Senior Juana Gregorio venturing off the norm was a shocking change that expanded her tastebuds. Gregorio said, “I am so used to eating Mexican food that I would have never known how to cook anything else.” All this cooking was done within a one to two hour period in the staff lounge. In that small window of time, each club member cooked a meal that would sustain a family of four.

What truly makes the club remarkable is teaching the students how to cook without a truly functional kitchen. The students are cooking on stovetops which presents challenges, challenges that most students will face when moving into dorms at college.

A distinguishing aspect of the club, is how much is spent on the ingredients – $15 to $25 were spent on all the ingredients that the club members use, which teaches them how to shop on a budget.  

To the members of the club, it has been an eye opener. Cooking has several steps that many of the members could have never imagined. From learning to hand-pick the ingredients to learning how to prepare them for the specific meal and then learning how to utilize the cooking equipment properly. For senior Stefanie Ruelas, she learned the difference between pans and pots saying, “I always thought pans and pots were the same thing, but now I can tell the difference and what exactly they are used for.”

The final step is giving the students the confidence to cook these meals for themselves and their families. Sophomore Yenifer Hidalgo took the fajita recipe home and cooked the meal for her family. Hidalgo said, “ I enjoyed the fajitas and I wanted to cook for my mom on Mother’s Day, so I got the ingredients, followed the recipe, and cooked my mom dinner.”

 

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The student news site of Alisal High School
Cooking Up Some Fun