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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Food Extravaganza!!!

Do you know what I love about 4H?  I love how days like today that are crazy busy with events are still enjoyable because I can share them with good friends!

We started out our day at 6am...Sean was making a fresh broccoli salad for the food show that would begin at 10am.  He had never been to a district food show so he was very nervous and wanted everything to be just right.  I was so proud of him as he got everything together and practiced his speech.  He is a senior so he had to give a 5 minute speech on his recipe along with all of the leadership and service opportunities related to the project.  This is what he said about his recipe:

"This is known as my fabulous Broccoli Salad  because it tastes great and it is packed full of nutrients.  To begin with the main ingredient—broccoli, which has 19 nutrients found in its dark green florets.  There are also mushrooms, onions and celery that fall into the vegetable category.  As you can see, there are also mandarin oranges and craisins to add a little fruity sweet and tart contrast to the dish.  I added a little bacon for some extra flavor and pecans from the protein group for a nice crunch as well.  I combined all of these with a light mayonnaise and vinegar dressing to bring it all together.  And what a serving of goodness you will enjoy with 175 calories for each 1 cup serving.  You will have gained vitamins A, C, D, E, K and several B complex vitamins, as well as iron, calcium, folic acid, and fiber.  Even that bacon adds important Vitamin B to the dish! 

Now, when I am not making this great salad, I like to spend time helping my community.  I like to go to the VA clinic and serve lunches to the veterans.  I also provide snacks for care packages that are sent to deployed soldiers.  And, on Wednesday evenings you will find me at the SFA student center serving spaghetti dinner to the college students! 

This fall our club hosted Dustin Ellerman at our club meeting and we invited the entire community to come listen to him.  My family decided to make this a community service opportunity.  We asked everyone to bring 5 cans of food as an admission price.  We collected over 500 items that were donated to the local homeless shelter.  At our county food show, I greeted the contestants and visitors as they entered the building." 

He said this speech a dozen or more times as we made our way to the contest and as he waited for his turn to present to the judges. Parents were not allowed in the judging area but I could beep through the blinds to see him.  He was obviously the youngest one in his category as I recognized the others from past years.  He would have tough competition, but I hoped he would enjoy the experience.

In the mean time, four of our other club members were also presenting to judges.  There was also a group of 14 who would be united into teams at the last minute to compete in a Texas Ag ID contest.  Sean would later join the group as well to compete in this contest.  The members were shown 20 products from Texas and asked to identify and then answer a question related to the product.  

Here are a few examples of the questions they would answer:

The parents all gathered around wishing we were the ones being tested as it was so hard to watch them all go into the rooms awaiting their fate.  We spent most of our morning holding our breath in anticipation. So glad I was not the only one there as we were able to talk and try to take our minds off the other.

We had staked our claim on a small area near the contest rooms early in the day.  I felt as if we had moved in as we had computer to allow younger siblings a chance to watch a movie.  We had our lunch in ice chests and  extra clothes to change into for the afternoon (oh yes...there is more!), not to mention the extra supplies to be mentioned later.  We even had a couch and chair to share between the group of us!  

Our children slowly emerged from their various rooms and we grabbed them up to hear details about how they presented.  Of course they all thought they had done the best job, so we continued to wait for the awards ceremony...and waited...and waited!  LOL...again so glad we were all together to share talk and food.  Katy (our resident artist) even drew portraits of the others on a chalkboard found in the hallway.

The award ceremony took place and the results were as follows:

Food Show
Tori-first place for her nutritious snack!
Taylor-third place for his fruit/vegetable recipe!
We also had Sean, Jaron and Becca compete from our club.  

Senior Team placed 4th
Intermediate Team placed 1st, with Henry placing 2nd as an individual

Sean said he was glad to see the others win.  One of the judges came up to me later and told me that he definitely knew his information but the others competing in his category had been doing this for years and he should feel like he did his best.  What a nice thing to say to a mother!  Sean did well and had a chance to speak in front of strangers and did not stumble...I am so proud!  That is why I like this contest so gives our children a chance to have an interview situation in a low key situation.  It will help them later in life, I am sure.

However, as I hinted at earlier...we were just getting started.

We rushed out of the award ceremony changing clothes as we headed to the next part of the extravaganza!  And grabbing up supply boxes full of kitchen utensils and such!  The afternoon would entail a contest known as Food Challenge.  In this contest, the members would work in teams with various ingredients to create an impromptu recipe and present it to the judges.  The team would work together to let the judges know about their creation, including preparation, nutrients, placement in food groups, safety, and cost.  They showed their team spirit in different ways.  The senior team (Treyton, Katy, Caleb, Justin, David) dressed up as WWII heroes.  The intermediate team (Henry, Brianna, Sarah, Becca, Tori) dressed in Lone Star aprons and wore jeans.  The mixed team (Sean, Naomi, Caitlin, Taylor , James) were known as the Hawaiian Bunch.

And yes, the parents again waited for the teams to go behind closed doors to compete.  They were the last going in to contest and the last to come out!  This time our wait was spent a little more leisurely as we had done all we could to help at this point.  We were sprawled in our area even taking up space on the floor as we talked about anything from new homes to past experiences.  And the younger ones got a little wilder in their play time and thought about how their lunch was not enough to make it until the day was done.  So, we began to think about enjoying dinner together!  

The teams were released from their rooms and we saw their creations...what fun to see the various adaptions to the same ingredients.  Our Intermediate team created a pizza salad.  It smelled great and the team considered eating it...It did look good but I really think they were just hungry!  

Then out came the Senior team  with a very interesting concoction made with jicama.  Never heard of it?  Neither had they but they did a great job of scooping out this starchy tuber to create a bowl.  They used this along with other ingredients to make a dip and then had other vegetables to dip.  I thought it was very creative!  

Finally, at long last...the mixed team emerged with....??  We don't know exactly...they dumped their creation before leaving the judging area. LOL!  Oh, to our disappointment we never saw what they made but the members were not impressed with their ingredients.  They were asked to use scallions, white grapes, soy milk, and almonds to make a dish that would "go down smoothly."  Can you believe that?  We actually found the recipe online when we got home (actually another parent found it).  They were supposed to make Smooth Grape Gazpacho.  And believe it or not that is what our group made but they would not even taste their own recipe!

So we waited a little longer and the results came in for this second round of fun:

Senior Team-placed 2nd
Intermediate-placed 5th
Mixed team did not place!  But once I saw what they were supposed to make and how close they had come...I could not have been prouder of them!  

We took lots of pictures and planned where we would celebrate with MORE food to end our Food Extravaganza.  We ended up at a local place to enjoy a sit down meal together before taking our weary crews back home to recover from the events of the day.  

It was a good day and I hope they all learned from the experience.  I love 4H...even on exhausting days like today.  Who could ask for anything more than a great day with friends...memories that will last a life time!  I know that it made a cold day in February a day to "make the best better!"

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