Week 4 has begun! This week's theme is Asian countries, and today was Vietnam. We started off camp by making name tags, so we can all get to know each other.
After the name tags, it was time to form our teams and create a team banner. We have 5 tables, and each table gets their own Asian country this week. This theme aligns with one day of camp, and on each team's day they help extra with cooking. This week we have The Cougars (Vietnam), The Curry Kings (India), The Cooking Pandas (China), The Ginger Ninjas (Japan), and The Singapore Stingers (Singapore).
Check out each team's banner below!
After forming our teams for the week, we had to get a run down of the rules with Mimi. At camp, we are all CHEFS, meaning we are Clean, we are Helpful, we Experiment, we are Friends, and we are Safe. Then we reviewed some knife rules, water bottle rules, and bathroom rules with Carli. Following a trip to wash hands, it was time to get cooking.
We had 4 stations today to make Vietnamese spring rolls with peanut sauce and mango sauce.
Station 1: Making peanut sauce. Everyone added ingredients like peanut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Keep an eye out for the full recipe at the end of the week!
Station 2: Making mango salsa. Everyone scooped out some mango and to that we added lime, honey, and vinegar. We mashed up the mango with a fork to turn it into a sauce.
Station 3: Chopping lettuce, cucumber, celery, and green onion for our spring rolls.
Station 4: Assembling the spring rolls. We had the veggies we cut up, plus crab, shrimp, and rice noodles to stuff into the rice wrappers, that we soaked in water. Thanks to some helpful campers who have made spring rolls many times, we quickly learned the best way to put together our rolls.
Once every chef in training made it through each station, it was time to head outside. We played freezer tag, which is similar to freeze tag, but to get unfrozen you must also yell a frozen food item. Then we switched to a camp favorite, Chefs and Waiters. We will be playing this lots throughout the week, so today was a good practice day!
Finally, it was time to eat! The consensus was that the rolls and the sauces were delicious! Many people tried new foods today and were pleasantly surprised. We love seeing everyone learn so much at camp, and are excited to see what our India theme tomorrow will include!
Today's country was India! We started it off by making peacocks, the animal on the Indian flag! We had construction paper bodies, googly eyes, feathers, and pipe cleaners to assemble our peacocks. We had plenty of unique birds!
Following our craft, we played Asian food bingo! It took a long time to get a winner, but finally Miss Sadie won! We were amazed by how many dishes, spices, and ingredients come from the five countries we are getting inspiration from this week!
Then, it was time to get cooking. We made pizza parathas with a banana lassi today! This was accomplished in four stations.
Station 1: Rolling out the dough. The dough was simply flour and water. Each camper got a ball of dough and rolled it into a thin circle with their hands and a shared rolling pin. Certain batches were stickier than others, but we just had to add more flour to it to get the desired consistency.
Station 2: Campers took their dough to then assemble the parathas. Inside the dough, we put pizza ingredients like sauce, cheese, red peppers, onion, and corn. After loading up half of the dough, we folded the other side over and sealed it shut with the fork. The parathas looked like calzones at this point, but the flat dough and the cooking method makes them distinctly parathas.
Station 3: Chopping the veggies for the parathas. Campers had to cut the onions, corn, and peppers into bite size pieces. We have some tough campers who powered through their tears and continued cutting the onions into the perfect size.
Station 4: Making the banana lassi involved measuring and mixing ingredients like bananas, yogurt, and cardamom in a big bowl. This was then blended by Carli and the end result was like a smoothie.
Once our parathas were assembled and ready to be pan-fried by Tara, our campers, with the exception of the Curry Kings, headed outside for a wonderful game of Chefs and Waiters. The Curry Kings did an outstanding job cleaning up the very dirty tables and setting them as well.
Lastly, it was time to dine! The parathas were quite well received, which is understandable because they are essentially a pan-fried pizza. Many campers were not used to the cardamom in their banana lassi, and thought that was different and interesting. Multiple campers remarked that they thought they didn't like red pepper before, and their opinions have been forever changed! We love expanding our list of foods we like through experimenting and trying new things!
Wednesday was all about China. Our craft of paper lanterns involved folding, cutting, gluing, and taping. Our campers were quite proud of their final products.
Then, Mimi led us in a game of Jeopardy about China. We had categories including Traditions, Fun Facts, Chinese Dishes, and Ingredients. We got stumped occasionally, like knowing that the national language in China is Mandarin, but in the end, the Cooking Pandas, our team of the day in fact, were victorious! Nice job, ladies!
Following a quick round of washing hands, we got to start cooking. For our Chinese themed day, we made fried rice and sweet red bean paste pancakes. We accomplished this in four stations.
Station 1: Cutting up green onions and regular onions for our stir fry.
Station 2: Grating carrots for our stir fry.
Station 3: Making the pancakes. This involved mixing in flour, eggs, sugar, and baking soda, and then scooping the batter into muffin tins.
Station 4: Making red bean paste at the stove. We put cooked red beans in the blender, and then in a pan on the stove mixed butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt. To this, we added the pureed red beans.
After every camper made the rounds, we headed outside for a game of Cheese Grater Tag. We followed this up with Chefs and Waiters.
And like always, the last thing we did was EAT! The fried rice was very well received, with some people surprised they enjoyed the scrambled eggs in the rice. The pancake with red bean paste was very new and also pretty well received. Most campers had never eaten a sweet version of red beans, only a savory version. Another fun day at camp!
Japan day was extremely fun! We hopped right in with Japanese fans. Each camper got a Japanese design on some card stock. Once they colored it in, they cut out the fan shape and glued on a handle. Our campers were super focused and created some beautiful work!
Once we got the craft all cleaned up, we did a taste test of various mystery Asian ingredients. We had three brown sauces and pickled ginger. With our teams, we discussed the flavor, what recipe the ingredient could work well in, and what we thought the ingredient might be. In the end, we learned that we tried hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and pickled ginger. Many campers noted the sweetness and saltiness in the hoisin sauce, and compared it to BBQ sauce. The oyster sauce was described as salty and fishy, and most campers could easily identify the soy sauce upon tasting it. The response to the spicy ginger was overwhelmingly negative, and we caught a few reactions on camera!
Following our taste test, we moved on to cooking. Today, every camper made their own sushi roll, specifically a California roll. We had to start by cutting carrots and cucumbers into little stick like shapes so they would fit well in the sushi. Once our veggies were the right shape, we got to start rolling. We used makeshift rolling mats that were just gallon sized plastic bags with a piece of construction paper inside for support. Each camper got a sheet of seaweed and loaded 2/3 of the sheet with very sticky rice, cucumber, carrot, imitation crab, and optional avocado. Then, we rolled the sushi over one time, pressed it down, and sealed it. Many campers were shocked that the process was pretty simple.
Once the sushi rolls were assembled, everyone but the Ginger Ninjas headed outside. We played fun games of Asian food themed Four Corners, which the counselors even got in on. This was followed by a game of Chefs and Waiters, led by our camper James. We had other campers working hard to make the players laugh, so that they would get out of the game. Despite all of the distraction, Bailey and Jalyn would not break their straight faces!
The Ginger Ninjas got to do some serious experimentation inside, since the sushi rolls were fully prepared and already out at the tables. The Ginger Ninjas tried to make mochi, a Japanese sweet treat made of rice flour, sugar, cornstarch, and water, that we commonly see at frozen yogurt places as a topping. The plan was to fill these with leftover red bean paste from yesterday, but unfortunately we didn't have enough time.
Many campers raved about how this was the best sushi they had ever eaten, and how now they are going to start ordering sushi at restaurants. Can you believe we only have one day of camp left?!
The last day of week 4 was all about Singapore! To start, we decorated and made modifications to cookbooks. These cookbooks included all of the recipes from the week so that everyone can go home and make any of the recipes they want!
Then, it was time for Snack Wars!! Campers got put into pairs and received a banana, cookie butter, raisins, sunflower seeds, and pretzel sticks. With these tools, each pair constructed a creature of some sort that they gave a name, a location where it lived, and what it ate. It is always impressive to see what new things our campers come up with.
Tara led us in cooking some Singaporean food. We had honey glazed chicken, noodles, and veggie wontons. We made our delicious meal in four stations.
Station 1: Making the honey glaze and coating the chicken.
Station 2: Making the dry sauce for the noodles.
Station 3: Making the wonton filling by mashing broccoli, mushroom, and tofu.
Station 4: Filling the wontons with the veggie mash from station 3.
Following our last time cooking, everyone headed outside aside from our team of the day the Singapore Stingers, who helped prep for the meal. Those outside played a game of strategy called Grab the Soy Sauce and then wrapped up with Chefs and Waiters.
It has been a phenomenal week of camp!!