Kids Camp Week 3 : Superheroes (June 25th – 29th)

Monday: The Incredibles

Incredibles 2 just opened in theaters last Friday so it made sense to celebrate with some of our favorite superheroes this week. We started the week as we do every week, assigning different superheroes to our campers and having them come up with a team name and decorate a team poster showing off their superheroes. Our first team of the week, honoring Incredibles 2, came up with the name Incred 2. We might have wanted to give them more time to think on that one but it’s all in good fun, so we continued our introductions: Wonder Woman’s team came up with Wonder League, Black Panther became the Cotton Candy Panthers, our team for Black Widow (we hear her own movie is arriving in theaters next year!) came up with Kung Fu Cooks, and our last team with the Hulks decided to name themselves the Big Green Cucumbers.

Not everyone has gotten a chance to see the Incredibles 2 yet, so we didn’t give any spoilers but when we think of the Incredibles family, we think of your typical American family – with some hidden superpowers! We decided to play into that, so we mixed, shaped, and grilled our own hamburgers, baked some dinner rolls for buns, and baked sweet potato fries for the side. Our recipe for the hamburgers included evaporated milk, Worcester sauce, and eggs – some things I had never put in a hamburger before, but which made it even more delicious – hidden superpowers! Before we got into cooking though, we tested our taste buds with Tasting Stations which got us thinking about the different cultures and traditions found in the United States. We got to try wasabi peas, matzo balls, and guava juice. It was interesting how many campers said the matzo balls tasted meaty but it’s really just egg, flour, water, and oil.

Cooking stations went smoothly, and campers enjoyed working around the grill outside, but it was hot that day, so games were done inside. Most of the campers went to play a couple rounds of Family Road Trip where the first camper starts by saying what they are bringing on the family road trip. The next person repeats the person before them and adds an item. The next person repeats the last two items and add theirs, and it continues around the circle. A good memory game! The Incred 2 team in the meantime had the special job of clearing stations and plating our meal before we all sat down to enjoy it.

Tuesday: Wonder Woman

On Tuesday we got to know Wonder Woman! Wonder Woman hails from the island nation of Themyscira so we decided to honor her with Greek food. For our day’s craft, the campers learned how to make arm bracelets like the ones worn by Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is gifted with accelerated healing power, so we talked about the fruits and vegetables that can give us those powers too. Each camper put their favorites on their bracelets. Next, we jumped into Snack Wars! Each pair of campers were given some banana, wasabi peas, apple butter, pretzels, and the goal of creating their own superhero. We got some really interesting ones including one that gained strength from hugs and hailed from Cleveland, Ohio. Not all were so sweet though! One ate his enemies.

We didn’t dwell on that too much though and we transitioned into Cooking Stations. Today we baked Spanakopita and made Skewer-less Chicken Kebabs! Everything turned out great and the Wonder League did a great job of setting our places while the rest of the campers played Heroes and Villains outside. We all met back up inside after some time to try what we all worked so hard at and I heard a lot of people say this was their favorite day!

Wednesday: Black Panther

On Wednesday, Black Panther stopped by SoFAB for a visit! In the morning, the campers learned about some of the African traditions connected to Black Panther by painting plates with designs inspired by traditional African prints. The campers noticed how the patterns were formed from lines, dots, and different shapes repeated in complex arrangements. As the plates were drying, the campers moved on to a rousing game of Jeopardy! with categories stemming from themes seen in Black Panther. According to the comic, the country of Wakanda is located between Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan. The Jeopardy! categories for the day were Ethiopian Cuisine, Ethiopian Culture, Kenyan Cuisine, and Food Technology. Although it was a close match, The Big Green Cucumbers emerged victorious.

The campers then moved into cooking stations, making traditional Ethiopian food including a bread called injera, a vegetarian dish called atakilta wat, and a spicy chicken dish called kik alicha wat. These dishes required lots of chopping, dicing, simmering, and sautéing! When all of the cooking was finished, the campers headed outside for a game of refrigerator tag while the Cotton Candy Panthers stayed inside to plate the food.

The campers really enjoyed the injera and the spicy chicken, and Black Panther day was a lot of fun!

Thursday: Black Widow

On Thursday, Black Widow crept into the museum as we celebrated the traditions and customs of Russia, her homeland. In the morning, the campers learned about the tradition of dying Easter Eggs using the coloring from red onion peels. The kids worked to decorate eggs with herbs and wax designs before hardboiling them in the natural dye. Next came a lesson on food preservatives present in large quantities in many processed foods. Campers played a round of Food Preservative Bingo to introduce them to some of the chemicals used and encourage them to read labels before buying heavily processed food products.

Next, it was time to move into the cooking stations where campers worked to make beef stroganoff, a dish originating in Russia, as well as a traditional Russian tea snack called sushki. The stroganoff was loaded with lots of fresh mushrooms and tender beef, a first for many campers. They also enjoyed forming the sushki dough with a mixer and shaping the dough into bite-sized rings.

After cooking, the campers headed across the museum to play a new game called Spider Bite where a secret “doctor” tries to stop the spread of the “virus.” In the kitchen, the Kung-Fu Cooks worked hard to serve the stroganoff and sushki. The food was delicious, Black Widow approved, and the campers were inspired to try new foods at home.

Friday: The Hulk

On Friday, all the campers were turning GREEN as we celebrated the Hulk! First, the campers reflected on the entire week of recipes by decorating custom camp cookbooks. They made sure to note any changes they would make to the recipes and had new friends sign their books. Next, the campers played a new game in which they explored the relationship between food and class in America. They were tasked with designing a meal for their table based on certain limitations such as time available to cook and price of each item. Ultimately, the game showed them how fresh food can be both expensive and time consuming, as well as how cheaper, more processed foods often have excess calories which are hard to control.

After this game, the campers moved into the cooking stations to make foods that were-you guessed it-GREEN! On the menu for the day was a green curry and a key lime pie. The green curry had lots of basil, cilantro, lime, and bell pepper, making it fresh and flavorful, For the key lime pie, the campers enjoyed zesting and juicing the limes as well as making a delicious graham cracker crust.

While the curry was simmering, the campers headed outside for a game of Chefs and Waiters  while the Big Green Cucumbers stayed inside to help with plating. The curry turned out perfectly spicy and fresh, and the key lime pie was the perfect cool treat after a long day. It was a Hulk-smashing success!

Kids Camp Week 2: World Cup (June 18th – 22nd)

Monday: Germany

The World Cup started in Russia on June 14th, so we thought it would be great to tie it into our camp theme for this week. We looked at the teams favored to win this year and based our days around them, so don’t take it personally if your favorite was not featured! We started off the week with Germany, a strong team that was beaten by Mexico in their first match, but that has since picked up the pace again with a 2 -1 win over Sweden. When we think of German foods, we immediately think of Schnitzel so that was an obvious main dish, which we then paired with an easy egg noodle called Spätzle and a fruity dessert called Rote Grütze.

Before we got into cooking though, our campers for the week came up with table names and decorated their team poster. We got to meet The Perfect Pretzels (Germany), The Crazy Cashews (Brazil), The French Fry Waffle People (Belgium), The Octogoats (Portugal), and The Scoring Sugarcanes (Argentina). To dive deeper into German food culture, we did Tasting Stations where each of the campers tried a new mystery food item representative of the country, so today they tried bratwurst, sauerkraut, and pumpernickel bread! The bratwurst was a clear favorite.

The Cooking Stations were a lot of fun as well since many campers were able to try frying for the first time and the egg noodles were made using a new-to-us technique involving a colander. After stations, The Perfect Pretzels put the finishing touches on the dishes, and the rest of the camp stayed inside to avoid the heavy rain and played a couple rounds of “Koffer packen” (Suitcase packing) where everyone got to add a favorite item to a suitcase, while repeating all the items already said before, in order. A tricky game to say the least!

Afterwards, we all came inside to reap the rewards of our hard work during the day and I even heard that some campers were eager to try the Schnitzel at home.

Tuesday: Brazil

Brazil has been burned in World Cups past, but they are eager and on their way to redeem themselves this year so we decided to honor them this Tuesday by making typical Brazilian dishes Moqueca de Camaroes and Brigadeiros. Moqueca de Camaroes is a stew made using various seafoods and Brigadeiros are a popular chocolate truffle-esque dessert. Today’s craft was making the Brigadeiros so we could let the mixture chill before shaping it into fun, bite-sized balls later. Our next activity was a camp favorite: Snack Wars! Each pair of campers was given some banana, apple butter, pretzel sticks, pumpernickel bread, and the challenge of creating their very own Carnival float (Brazil’s Mardi Gras celebration). We got some great float ideas and would love to see them in the parade sometime!

Cooking stations went smoothly, though rolling the Brigadeiros in the cocoa powder proved to be a messy endeavor. It was then The Crazy Cashews’ turn to plate our dishes and they did so splendidly while the rest of the campers went outside to play a remixed version of Chefs and Waiters. Afterwards, we all got together and talked about what we loved about the day and maybe some things we would do differently with the dishes at home. Over all, another great day!

Wednesday: Belgium

Today, we made the trek back to Europe to explore the delicacies and interesting fare of Belgium, a country with a mixing of Flemish and French influences. As a first introduction to Belgian food, campers were challenged to make their own frites (fries) and sauce using vegetables, meats, and spices traditionally used in the local fare. After the craft, the campers placed a fierce game of Jeopardy to learn more about Belgian culture; the Octogoats emerged victorious.

Next it was for cooking, and campers were tasked with preparing Chicken Waterzooi along with a savory waffle containing mashed potatoes and carrots. This waffle was SoFAB’s own twist on the traditional Belgian dish stoemp aux carottes. Cooking was successful, and the French Fry Waffle People helped plate the delicious food inside while the rest of the campers enjoyed a game of Chickens and Mussels outside.

It was another great day at the SoFAB World Cup!

Thursday

Thursday brought us to the country of Portugal located on the Iberian Peninsula. The campers lit their burners early with a riveting game of Chopped! In the baskets were the ingredients: cabbage, dried cranberries, tortilla chips, and sausage. After putting their knives together and their brains to work, the Perfect Pretzels emerged victorious with the tastiest dish. Next came the cooking stations where the campers worked to prepare a traditional Portuguese soup called caldo verde along with a sweet, lemony rice called arroz doce.

Campers gained experience using an immersion blender to take the chunky soup down to a smooth consistency. They also used a vegetable peeler as a form of zester to get larger lemon peels for the sweet rice. Cooking came to a close, and the campers headed outside to leave their chalk marks on the back patio with their own culinary drawings.

After lots of hard work by the Octogoats plating, the soup turned out fantastic while the rice was the perfect treat. Another fun-filled day at camp!

Friday: Argentina

On Friday, we traveled back across the Atlantic to land in Argentina for a traditional Argentine asado. This is a familial style barbeque where the meat is seasoned only with salt and pepper and cooked on a parrilla.

Before cooking, the campers received cookbooks containing all the recipes from the week. They then decorated them, exchanged signatures with new friends, and noted any changes they would have made. Next, campers played a game exploring globalization of foods through the Columbian Exchange. They discovered where some of their favorite foods originated, for instance that potatoes were first cultivated in South America even though public memory often associates the potato with Ireland.

Campers first had to season and grill the delicious steaks for the asado. On the side, they prepared a traditional chimichurri sauce with buckets of parsley, cilantro, and garlic. For a tasty and healthy dessert, the campers made baked plantains, with the natural sweetness shining through during the baking process. The Scoring Sugarcanes worked hard to plate the perfectly cooked steaks and golden plantains.

All the campers enjoyed the asado, and it was another fun-filled week at SoFAB Kid’s Camp!

Kid's Camp Week 1: Touring the South! (June 11th -15th)

Monday: Louisiana

It's June, so that means SoFAB's Kids Camp is starting up again! We kicked off this year's summer camp with a tour of the Southern states, starting with Louisiana on Monday. While Louisiana, and New Orleans especially, is known for its jambalaya, gumbo, and po'boys among numerous other foods, we wanted to try something a little different so we dug into our library's cookbooks to find traditional recipes for Dirty Rice along with Pickled Okra.

Before we got into our cooking stations, though, we had each table come up with a team name and decorate a poster corresponding with the state we assigned them. We got to meet the Louisiana Dirty Rice Cookers, the West Virginia Mountain Men, the South Carolina Golden Islands, the Virginia Berry Awesome Baking Biscuits, and last, but not least, the Mississippi Beautiful BBQs. After that, we learned more about the different cultures that contributed to the gumbo Louisiana is known for. Each camper then made their own contribution to our hypothetical "camp gumbo". Some of our favorite additions were doughnuts, king cake, and crawfish! Then, we finally got into cooking, during which, we learned about safe chopping technique and the science behind pickling!

Over all, it was a great first day and the dishes turned out great thanks to all the helping hands.

Tuesday: West Virginia

On Tuesday, we jumped right into the day with dough-making. We did this to let the dough chill for at least thirty minutes before handling later. In those thirty minutes we got to learn about West Virginia’s wild game and then played a camp favorite - Snack Wars!! Each pair of campers was given some sweet potato, pretzels, cranberries, and a directive to dream up their own new kind of crazy wild animal. We asked them where their animal might live, what it might taste like, and most importantly, how they would cook it for a meal! The campers saw the sweet potato again in our cooking stations when we prepared Savory Sweet Potato Mash. We also pulled the dough back out of the fridge for our Venison Hand Pies. While the hand pies baked, the West Virginia Mountain Men helped get our space to restaurant-quality clean and set up for eating while the others played a couple rounds of Bayou Tag. We all met back up at the end to enjoy the finished products and talk about our favorite parts of the day. Another success!

Wednesday: South Carolina

Wednesday marked the middle of the week at Kid's Camp, and we made the trek from the mountains of West Virginia to the eastern shores of South Carolina to explore the rich cultural and culinary traditions of South Carolina. The climate and geography of SC make tea one of the major agricultural products of the state. To celebrate this, the kids wrote letters to their friends and family members, then stained them with brewed tea to add an old-fashioned flare during craft time.

The food for South Carolina originated from the Gullah People, an important group living in the Sea Islands and Lowcountry. In order to learn more about the food, history, culture, and language of the Gullah, the kids played a heated round of Jeopardy with the Brilliant BBQ’s emerging victorious.

Next it was time for the campers to get their hands dirty and cook the shrimp and rice where they furiously chopped, mixed, measured, and stirred their way to a delicious meal. Freshly brewed iced tea with a simple syrup on the side complimented the dish. The Golden Islands were inside plating while the rest of the camp enjoyed a game of Chefs and Waiters.

The food was delicious, the tea was cold, and it was a great day at Camp!

Thursday: Virginia

On Thursday, we traveled a bit further north to explore the cuisine of Virginia. In honor of the Virginia ham, campers worked hard to fold and decorate origami pigs during craft time. The kids had to work together and communicate well to get the intricate folds just right. Next, campers explored the mysteries of three tasting stations, where they got to sample and guess foods with rich history in Virginia. The three mystery items turned out to be hominy, lima beans, and plums; hominy was a camp-wide stumper with many kids tasting it for the first time.

The food for the day was a green tomato soup with ham for good flavor followed by a tasty blueberry hand pie. At the soup-making station, campers chopped ham, veggies, and lots and lots of tomatoes before getting experience with an immersion blender for a final smooth soup. Blueberries proved the perfect filling for the flaky dough used for the hand pies. Campers got experience reducing the fruit to a paste, rolling out the dough, and crimping together the assembled pies.

Before eating, the kids enjoyed a game of Alligator’s Tail followed by Bayou Tag while the Berry Awesome Baking Biscuits stayed inside to plate. The soup was delightful, and the hand pies were a delicious golden brown. Campers left with full bellies and happy faces!

Friday: Mississippi

To wrap up the Southern Tour, we headed a little further west to the state of Mississippi for an exploration of some classic cuisine. During craft time, campers constructed and decorated cookbooks containing all the recipes from the week. They collected signatures from their new friends and made sure to makes notes on each of the recipes about things they would add or substitute.

The food for Mississippi originated from Mexico, originally brought there by migrant workers: the Mississippi Delta Tamale. Campers mixed the dough, stuffed the tamales, and wrapped the tamales in corn husks before steaming. As a last treat, the campers made Mississippi mud pie.

While the tamales were steaming, everyone enjoyed a game of Chefs and Waiters and a game of Bayou Tag while the Brilliant BBQ’s plated inside. The tamales were perfectly seasoned, the mudpie was a cool treat after a hot game, and Kid’s Camp Week 1 was a great success!