Cook up a cure for cabin fever: Carter County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service

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COVID-19 has most of us spending a lot more time indoors. So we need to get creative to keep our families entertained and engaged during this time of social distancing. A great way to get young people involved is to have them help cook something in the kitchen. Cooking is especially enjoyable for all ages, because it requires using all five senses. 4-H’ers see the foods and prepare them with their own hands. They can hear foods popping or sizzling in the pan and smell the aromas. Finally, the best part is they get to taste their finished product.

Cooking is a great opportunity for family bonding, and it opens 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 gives practice to wrist and finger muscles. Stirring, pouring and ladling uses shoulder and arm muscles associated with gross motor skills.

Food preparation also requires math and science skills. 4-H’ers 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 measures and wash their hands. As you work through the recipe, make sure young people are following safe food handling practices, and you properly clean up any messes left after the meal is prepared, washing cooking equipment and sanitizing food preparation surfaces.

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 local 4-H cooking programs. They also 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, contact the Carter County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Educational programs of the Kentucky 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 expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

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