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Cook up a cure for cabin fever

By KIM RAGLAND

4-H Extension Agent

Need some ideas to keep your family entertained and engaged while social distancing? A great way to get young people involved and learning is to have them help cook something in the kitchen. 

Cooking is a great opportunity for family bonding, opening the door for discussion, creativity, and learning. Preparing a meal provides new tasks that are not too difficult for a young person to accomplish under proper supervision. Cooking activities help build both fine and gross motor skills. Whisking, cutting or measuring with teaspoons and tablespoons strengthens wrist and finger muscles. Stirring, pouring and ladling use shoulder and arm muscles associated with gross motor skills. 

Food preparation also requires math and science skills. 4-Hers can practice simple math by learning about amounts and measurements and the concepts of more and less. They can hypothesize about what might happen next when a recipe gets changed. They also have a front row seat to watch changes as they occur.

A special benefit is young people may be more inclined to try new or a greater variety of foods if they are actively involved in preparing it.

To get started, find a recipe for your family to prepare. The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture offer a lot of great recipes featuring local produce in their Plate it Up Kentucky Proud project. Recipes are available online at https://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/piukp-recipes. You may also want to get creative and make your own recipe. Youth can use the MyFitnessPal website located at https://www.myfitnesspal.com/recipe/calculator to determine a recipe’s nutrition and caloric content. 

Remember, before cooking begins, each person preparing food should practice proper food safety procedures by washing hands and surfaces.  As you work through the recipe, make sure young people are following safe food handling practices and properly clean up any messes made during preparation.  After the meal, safely storing leftovers, washing cooking equipment and sanitizing food preparation surfaces are also important kitchen skills to learn and reinforce.

Young people may even develop a new hobby or interest in cooking. They can take their interest further by inquiring about local opportunities to participate in the 4-H cooking project. They may want to prepare a 4-H recipe to enter in their county fair. You can find 4-H fair recipes online at https://bit.ly/2QWKmGP

For more information about opportunities through Boyle County 4-H, please visit us on Facebook (Boyle County Extension and Boyle County 4H Online), visit our website (boyle.ca.uky.edu), call us (859) 236-4484 or email marycatherine.rowland@uky.edu.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.