By MELINDA J. OVERSTREET
Glasgow Daily Times
GLASGOW — Barren County High School students Junita Grinter, Mackenzie Taylor and Katrina Gold aspire to go to culinary school, and they’ll get a chance soon to earn a scholarship to do just that.
In the meantime, having a regional championship already under their apron belts, the girls honed their demonstration skills Saturday at the Farm to Fork Barren County Ag Festival in their BCHS home court. As they prepared cupcake-shaped Fruity Frittatas, James Comer, Kentucky agriculture commissioner, stopped in for a visit with them.
As the team continued working, Comer stepped aside and explained the Kentucky Proud Junior Chef Competition. Every high school in the state was invited to participate by selecting and sending a team to a regional contest for starters, and Barren County’s trio won for Region 4. The Sweet 16 teams from those championships will go compete statewide at the Kentucky State Fair, which begins Aug. 15.
The dishes must be prepared with only Kentucky Proud products, and the frittatas contained cheddar cheese from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, bacon from Moore’s Country Sausage, milk from Chaney’s Dairy Barn and eggs from Growing Boys Farm.
Each state champion teammate will get a $6,000 scholarship for Sullivan University’s Culinary Arts program, and their textbooks will be covered by Wiley Books, Comer said.
“It’s a really good deal. It’s the first year we ever had it, so I wanted to stop by and say congratulations to the Barren County team,” he said.
Besides culinary skills, this competition also teaches them the value of buying fresh, local products, he said. In fact, as part of their presentation, the teams have to discuss the farm products they are using.
Next up in the demonstration lineup was Gabe Esters, of Esters Farm Baked Goods, who provided a secondary use of the quick breads he makes – like cranberry-pineapple – as a base for a Sweet and Savory Breakfast Casserole. He said just about any of the variation on the bread can be used.
“The good thing about this breakfast casserole is you can make it the night before and when you wake up in the morning, just put it in the oven,” he said.
Besides the eggs, the mixture also calls for cheese, ham and milk, “so it’s a pretty hearty recipe.”
Another thing he likes about that recipe is that it doesn’t have to be exact. For example, even though it calls for eight eggs, he only used six this time, and it can cook a little longer than the 30 minutes stated if the person who’s going to be enjoying it wants it a bit crispier.
Bonnie Copass of Glasgow finished her sample of the breakfast casserole.
“I liked it, and it was a little bit hot, but it was good,” she said, noting the slight bit of spicy heat that emerges after a few bites.
She said she wasn’t sure whether it was something she would make, but she already makes something like the Zucchini Casserole that Esters was making next. He used crescent rolls as the crust, saying that homemade bread dough would be good as well, and Copass’ doesn’t have a crust. With hers, she adds tomatoes and the finishing touch is cheese that’s just allowed to melt throughout at the end.
“I love zucchini,” she said. “I’m going to try it with the crust.”
Esters mentioned that his had ground beef in it, but that can vary.
“If you’re going to use sausage, you’ve got to get it from Moore’s Country Sausage,” he said, pointing to the Moore’s booth in the same room as the demonstrations.
He’s also heard the dish called Zucchini Pizza, and calling it that might make kids more likely to try it.
“My mom used to make this when I was a kid,” he said of the handwritten recipe from his grandmother. “At first, I was like, ‘I don’t know,’ but I liked it.”
“It’s called quality control when you taste it yourself,” he said, sneaking as a sample of it with a grin.
After he finished, Mindy McCulley, Barren County family and consumer science extension agent for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, shared a quick recipe for Very Berry Salsa, and then it was time for her colleague at the extension office to do a cooking with kids demonstration.
“The idea is to get your kids to try new things,” said Vicki Britt, nutrition program assistant, adding they are more likely to do that if it’s something they’ve prepared themselves.
Two girls not much taller than the table on which they were working smeared peanut butter on a soft flour tortilla, topped that with slices of banana and rolled it up. Britt suggested using cream cheese as a substitution if nut allergies are an issue. The roll can be dipped in yogurt and then crushed cereal or graham crackers.
The rolled up treat can also be sliced, with each disk topped with another piece of fruit, and the child can serve it as an hors d'oeuvre to her friends, Britt said.