From a distance, it looked as if the boys had made a pizza. The crust was flattened in a round baking pan, a yellow cheese was across the surface, and tomatoes and olives were sprinkled on the top.
A closer look would show the creation was actually a fruit pizza, with sugar cookie crust, orange-colored cream cheese frosting, and strawberries and grapes for the topping.
This was just one project in a two-week McPherson Recreation Commission class called Cooking is Fun. The concept of the class' title is something instructor Fran Stucky feels strongly about.
"I think cooking is something that every family should do more often," she said. "If we can make it fun, I think we will do more of it in our families. We have gone to packaged food, and in order to have better nutrition and save money, we need to get back to the basic skills."
The class ran Monday through Thursday this week at McPherson High School, and will continue on the same days next week. So far, the nine
fourth- through seventh-graders made food such as traveler's mix and cheesy vegetables, and next week's menu will include some main dishes.
As she gave instructions Thursday, she offered tips the students might not already know. For example, she suggested the students dip their banana slices in lemon juice to prevent browning. She also showed how to measure brown sugar without spilling out of the bag.
Following her instructions, the students made their fruit pizza, the only dessert in the two-week class. Kaytlynn Kuder, 11, said this was her favorite project so far.
"I like how we all get together and make something really good at the end of class," she said.
Arriana Gross, 9, said her favorite project so far was making the eggs.
"It was fun to chop the onions and figure out how long you were supposed to leave the eggs on the stove," she said.
Taylor Miller, 11, is taking the class for the third year. He said it has helped him learn how much salt and pepper to put on his food. At home, Miller helps make sloppy joes and hamburgers, but his favorite meal to make is steak.
Tate Williams, 12, is in the class for the second time. He said he wants to become a professional chef someday.
"Seeing people cook makes me interested," he said.
Stucky, who taught Family and Consumer Science at McPherson High School for 30 years, is teaching this summer class for the fifth year. Some she has taught are now second generation students.
This year, she said she has seen excellent cooperation among the students, as many have taken turns and shared ideas. But no matter which young ones are cooking, she is glad to see them in the kitchen and learning useful life skills.
Page 2 of 2 - "They feel good about what they're doing," she said. "And they do it because they want to."
Although they might not realize the benefits now, the teacher knows they will in the future. She has been contacted by many former students who thanked her for recipes or skills they learned.
"It has rewards down the road," she said. "It helps me enjoy what I'm doing and it helps them keep doing it."