A group of Columbia County children not only learned new skills in the kitchen but expanded their palates this past week during Cooking Camp at the Augusta Jewish Community Center.
Ian Gallo, 8, of Martinez, made his own artichoke spinach dip Monday, and he enjoyed eating it.
"I didn't think I'd like it," he said.
Camp teacher Dotti Blackburn, former owner of Kokomo's Daiquiri Bar and Grill in Augusta and a Masters Week caterer, said she prepared a menu of kid-friendly recipes that allowed the children to be creative.
She led them in creating tuxedo brownie cups, pizza twists, fruit dessert pizza, vegetable pizza, peanut butter pie and mini key lime pies.
Blackburn said she encouraged the children to try new foods, including green and yellow peppers and olives in their pizza twists.
"I have a rule," Blackburn said. "You don't have to eat everything, but you have to try it."
Bailey Campbell, 9, of Evans, like the rest of the group, was up to the challenge. She opted to try the peppers and olives in her pizza twist. She delicately chopped the peppers, after some kitchen knife safety guidance, and lined them up on the pizza dough.
"I hope these peppers are good," she said. "I've never had a black olive before. I've never had any olive before. I want to try one."
After meticulously putting it together, and watching it rise and bake in the oven, Bailey took a bite, taste-testing her pizza twist. She decided she likes olives.
"I probably get that from my Mom," Bailey said. "She loves olives."
A little adventure and trying new things is exactly what Blackburn was trying to encourage.
"We're into doing many different flavors,' she said.
During the week-long camp at the Evans community center, Blackburn said the children not only learned some new recipes but gained confidence in the kitchen. She also made sure to instill some useful information about following the directions in recipes, measuring, knife safety and keeping the kitchen clean.
One of the advantages of cooking camp is that the children were able to enjoy the fruits of their labors.
While the baking mini-brownies filled the kitchen with a sweet aroma, the children mixed up cream cheese, powdered sugar, white chocolate and milk. With an accent decorator, they topped each brownie with a dollop of the mixture. A strawberry slice was the finishing touch of the tuxedo brownie cups.
"These will be good to show off," Blackburn said.
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