Extension service fired up for healthy living


Few seats remain for new and improved healthy cooking school



Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Erath County will soon host its fifth annual Dinner Tonight! Healthy Cooking School. The event, which invites community members to get a taste of healthy and delicious meals they can easily prepare at home, is expected to sell out in the next few days.

Donna White, Erath County extension agent for family and consumer sciences, said the cooking school has added new things to its 2016 menu, including food vendors. During the first 40 minutes of the two-hour course, the vendors will offer samples of nutritious snacks, demonstrations, preparation guides to take home and items for purchase.

White said the vendor list will include representatives from the Tarleton Meats Lab, who will give away samples of jerky and the 4-H bicycle blender, which will allow attendees to use their muscle power to mix up a delicious and nutritious smoothie drink.

The cooking portion of the Dinner Tonight! program will feature cooking demonstrations by Becky Wilson and Chef Darlene, who will offer tips for making tasty meals of wild game. White said Wilson, who operates a Krooked River Ranch Outfitters, a hunting lodge and ranch, will smoke duck and quail and bring enough game for everyone on the 200-person roster to sample.

Chef Darlene, known for sharing her sizzling creations across the region, at intimate venues and big events like the State Fair of Texas, will cook up some venison chili. Chef Darlene is also known locally for holding demonstrations at the Home Place at Ace several times a year and making an appearance at the first annual cooking school and other area events, according to White.

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But the celebrity chef lineup doesn’t stop there. Erath County’s own Curren Dodds, who serves up an ever-changing menu at Let’s Eat in Bluff Dale and is a two-time winner at Hico’s Texas Steak Cookoff, is expected to share tips from his “from farm to table” menu.

White said a big draw to the annual cooking school is the gifts and goodies attendees receive. This year’s complimentary recipe book will include recipes the event committee selected from offerings of the National Institute of Health, as well as recipe cards that will offer healthy options for families with children that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

“There are eight cards that allow main and side dishes to be mixed and matched,” White said. “We will also have some samples of those recipes.”

As with previous cooking schools, door prizes will be given away.

“The Home Place at Ace always gives us great door prizes that usually correspond with the class menu,” White said. “We will also have a Kitchen-Aid mixer to give away again this year. Participants are going to have a lot of great things to take home with them.”

Dinner Tonight! Healthy Cooking School will be held 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 at Cowboy Church of Erath County, which is located toward Glen Rose at 4945 U.S. Highway 67.

With the number of available seats dwindling daily, White said she expects the class to sell out by Friday. Attendees may register online at texashealth.org/stephenville or by calling (877) 847-9355. Tickets are $25 per person and may be purchased using a MasterCard or Visa credit or debit card.

Visit erath.agrilife.org/dtcs2016 for more information on the cooking school.



Other Erath AgriLife Extension news

Families looking for new recipes to sample weekly are being reminded to register at dinnertonight.org for recipes, video demonstrations, cooking tips and more. The Dinner Tonight website is devoted to helping busy families prepare quick and easy meals and healthy desserts.

Recipes can also be found on the Living Healthy in Erath Facebook page, facebook.com/livinghealthyinerath, according to White. She said the Facebook page was established to provide tips, tools and resources for living healthy lifestyles and includes nutrition tips, recipes, wellness and fitness information, disease prevention and much more. 

For community members who prefer the classroom setting, a new program of “cook and carry” classes is being organized. Small groups of 18-20 people will meet at the Tarleton food lab, which includes six kitchen stations, where teams of three people will prepare main dishes.

“Each group will prepare a different main dish and each participant will leave with three or four main dishes to feed their families or freeze for later,” White said.

The cook and carry classes will be fee-based and additional information will be provided on the program in the near future.

Finally, White said a new law that will take effect September 1 means that individuals working in the kitchens of all food service establishments, including restaurants and cafeterias in schools, nursing homes and hospitals, will be required to obtain a food handler’s certificate.

“In the past, local establishments were only required a single food manager’s certificate,” White said. “We will hold several classes before September.”

The local extension office will offer food handler’s classes in June, July and August and will share additional details through the county extension service website, erath.agrilife.org when plans are finalized. 


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