Ghastly goodies and ghoulish grub

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Dearmont Cooking Lab at Southeast Missouri State University was tranformed into a festive Halloween event Saturday when spooky eyeballs, graveyard cake, worm buckets and jack-o'-lantern cookies were prepared at the extended and continuing education "Ghoulish Grub" class.

Children and their parents worked together with direction from instructor Mary Slaughter, a Chartwells chef, in six well-equipped kitchens in an effort to get into the spirit and have fun while spending time together.

Katherine Karns, 7, said it plainly. "The best part is spending time with Mama."

Wendi Karns, a working mother of three, said, "I surprised her with this. The boys are at the fire truck rally, and it's girl time together. She doesn't spend much time cooking with mom, more with grandma."

In the spirit of Halloween, Katherine's favorite holiday, she dug her gloved hands into the meatball mixture that would soon become ghoulish eyeballs. "Oooh, it feels good. I like mixing the egg part because it's slimy," she said.

"With all that's going on in the world people just want to participate in fun stuff and the programs we offer create an opportunity for education as well," said Christy Marshon, Southeast Missouri State University assistant director of extended and continuing education.

Family tradition of cooks

"I already know how to cook. I'm here for the fun of it," said 11-year-old Madeline Dufek, a student at St. Vincent's School. Madeline's dad, Jim, thinks cooking is in her blood. With a son, Joseph, enrolled in L'Ecole Culinaire in St. Louis and another son, Jacob, who worked at Bella Italia until it burned down, Madeline is just following family tradition. Jim and his wife, Suzanne, both came from big families where cooking was a necessary skill. He believes that cooking brings families together and creates a bond. "We do this kind of thing at home," he said.

Slaughter, who has been employed in the culinary arts for almost 30 years, said she felt the parents were doing a lot of the teaching. "Without them I couldn't do it," she said. "It's great to see parents attending the class with children and getting involved in an activity with them."

Some of the recipes relied on the use of mixes while others were made from scratch. Slaughter said "I'm a 'from scratch' person, but we couldn't do as much in so little time, so using mixes worked in this situation."

Learning to following instructions from the box and take direction from Slaughter were two keys to success. She held up a small plastic bag and demonstrated the squishing method of blending colors together to create the accent color for decorating the jack-o'-lantern cookies. A snip in the corner of the bag produced a mock pastry bag to artfully design jack-o'-lanterns with character.

Family fun

"This is a great parent/child activity," said Kim Mueller, who was participating with her 10-year-old daughter, Malorie. Juggling work and school schedules for several family members is a challenge that may cause working parents to discover alternative ways to manage daily meals. Mueller said she doesn't want to spend all her time cooking and then cleaning up the kitchen, so she cooks mainly on the weekends or when she has time. Malorie, who sometimes cooks at home, said, "I like to make cake because I like to eat cake."


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