cooking for kids | regional news

Lily Hermann is a final year student at Charles O’Dickerson High School. She is also a Girl Scout in the process of achieving her Gold Award. Hermann belongs to Armed Forces 40591 and is commanded by Sarah Brainard and Kathleen Bassetti. Her parents are Christine Ebert and Matt Hermann. Hermann decided to take on her Gold Award project in Food Preparation and Kitchen Safety.

After narrowing down the focus of her project, Hermann almost had to present her idea before the Girl Scouts Council in May 2020. She loves to cook and bake, so her project was an extension of her talents. Hermann decided to engage with the younger students, especially since home and jobs were no longer available in middle school. Her project advisor was Jill Bryson, a middle school librarian.

Brisson has created a list of girls and boys who might be interested in taking the five-week course. Among those on the list are Leah Washburn, Fina Murtagh, Emma Hughes, and Savannah Moe. You haven’t heard anything from the boys. The Girl Scouts were impressed with her proposed project and made some suggestions for improvement such as not using all Girl Scouts as participants and having different members of her group help out in each class. Hermann also had to keep a record of the progress of her project.

The project name is Cooking for Kids and it focuses on kitchen safety and food preparation. Brisson was the perfect person to be the project advisor. “It was reaching Jill and I had a connection to middle school. She worked in restaurants in Buffalo and Ithaca, taught at Wegmans, and worked with the Localvore Club at Trumansburg Middle School,” Hermann explained.

The project consists of five classes taught on the same Saturdays at Jacksonville Community United Methodist Church. The first lesson focused on kitchen safety. In the second lesson, the girls made chicken pasta with an emphasis on cooking the chicken thoroughly and avoiding cross-contamination.

In Lesson 3, the girls got into small groups and made guacamole, sauce and chips from tortillas in the oven. Lesson 4 focused on making cupcakes and decorating from scratch, then decorating cupcakes with piping. Lesson 5 was the final session and turned into a cooking competition where the final dishes were judged for flavor, presentation, difficulty and creativity.

On Saturday, November 6, Washburn, Murtagh, Hughes, and Moy met and decided on the meal they were going to make. The first group chose stuffed shells and salad, while the other girls made pasta, meatballs, and garlic bread. Everything, except the bread, was made by hand. Hermann supervised the activity in the kitchen and assisted him as needed. It also developed the evaluation form used by the referees. When the food was finished, Madeleine Brainard and Blythe Van Ness arrived to judge the culinary dishes. After carefully sampling each of the offerings and filling in the bases, it was determined that the stuffed shells got 35/40 points while the spaghetti and meatballs got 32/40 points. Both meals were very delicious. Once the judging is done, everyone should eat and taste both dishes.

Four middle school students volunteer to help Girl Scouts Lily Hermann (far left) work towards her gold award by completing the “Cooking for Kids” project. Jill Bryson (far right) was a night advisor.

The four girls earned a lot from the five-week class. “Now I can cook better with other people than on my own,” Washburn said.

Vena noted, “I learned to cook better without specific measurements and instead used things like pinch and sprinkle.”

“I want to cook better in everyday life,” Mo said. “I learned how to better use the gas stove despite being in the house.”

“I learned how to cook with other people and be independent in the kitchen. I also learned how to use a can opener and decorate cakes,” explained Hughes. The four middle school girls said their favorite activity was making pasta dishes for the competition.

Hermann had to keep a notebook detailing her classes and the progress of her project. “I have to accumulate 80 hours to get my gold award. Currently, I am 60, but I need to do more research and develop my cookbook.” “All the girls will get a copy and I hope to put one in the middle school library and the Ulysses Philosophy Library.”

“My result of this project was to make the girls more comfortable and independent in the kitchen and to make recipes simple for people to follow. I also wanted the girls to find the kitchen accessible,” Hermann said. She plans to follow up with the girls and ask them to complete a survey in a few months.

Hermann has yet to complete her final proposal and submit the log book and cookbook to the Girl Scouts who will determine if Hermann has fully completed the requirements and received her Gold Award. “I feel the classes have been a success. Once the cookbook is published in the community, it will be more accessible for people to simply prepare good food.”


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