Area Potter fans learn the magic of cooking

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Seventeen Harry Potter fans showed up at platform 9 3/4, also known as Southeast Missouri State University's Dearmont Cooking Lab, on Saturday to learn the magic of cooking.

The three-hour workshop, inspired by J.K. Rowling's books about the boy wizard, began in the dining hall, where the first order of the day was to fix a potion before taking a kitchen safety quiz.

Alex and Alyssa Ogle, 9 and 7, of Gordonville came in costume but thought it better to leave the wands and flowing robes in the dining hall while they were cooking to avoid any mishaps.

"The recipes bring the book to life," said their mother, Jeanne. "It's a good way to introduce cooking."

The children prepared 11 recipes in groups divided up by means of a sorting hat for placement in each of the Hogwart's four houses.

Parents directed cooks to pour, combine, time, stir and drain so children could experience skills and experiment with kitchen tools firsthand.

Christy Mershon, Southeast assistant director of extended and continuing education, and Mirra Smith, decked out in wizard costumes, began the program by asking the why wizards lived longer than muggles, or nonwizards. The answer: nutrition.

Madeline Dufek, 12, was glad her house was preparing bat wings. She'd made them before and knew they were good. She compared Saturday's workshop with a Halloween cooking class taken in the fall and decided three things made Saturday's better: the experience of working with a group; sampling the variety of recipes, which she found more exciting; and the added challenge of gaining points for house, later to be awarded with goodies.

Kristy Unger, a principal at Oran Elementary School, said the Harry Potter party turned out better than she expected. She looked forward to bringing the recipes home to try more. Although she hasn't had time to read all the books, she especially likes the appeal that Rowling's books have for children of all ages and the motivation they provide for students at her school who participate in the accelerated reader program.

The workshop was offered in partnership with the Cape Girardeau Public Library.

335-6611, extension 133

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