Agricultural Extension Agency hosts food workshops | News

Texas A&M Agrilife Expansion Agents Meredich Cryer and Jessica Street joined forces with SHSU dietitian intern Tamera Armstrong on Thursday, August 4 to present a class on pressure cooking titled “Mealtime Delivery.” The class was part of a series of ten classes held at the Storm Shelter in Walker County to educate the citizens of the area about healthy living.

This session included a presentation by Armstrong on the factors that degrade the nutritional value of different foods and how to maximize nutrient retention. Armstrong is a senior at SHSU, graduating in December. I talked through different cooking methods which enhance or decrease the vitamins and minerals naturally present in food. Armstrong also shared how each essential vitamin supports different body functions and how to avoid the formation of carcinogens while preparing food.

Cryer provided an in-depth explanation of the safe operation and proper cleaning of the various electric pressure cookers that have come to replace traditional stovetop appliances. Street contributed by sharing tips and personal experiences using electric pressure cookers in her kitchen.

After the visual presentations, the trio helped class members prepare honey balsamic chicken, squash pasta, peach cobbler, and a healthy egg dish made in small portion-controlled glass jars and easily stored. The recipes were simple and easy to follow. The end result was a healthy lunch that was prepared in a fraction of the time taken by traditional methods.

According to Cryer, dry beans can be cooked in about 45 minutes using the pressure function. She guided the attendees through every mechanism of the different brands in the market. Cryer emphasized the importance of allowing time for the cook to lower the pressure and explaining what types of recipes are safe to use quick release and that require the natural release of steam.

“Natural release is the safest method for soups, starches, and any recipe that contains a large amount of liquid. This method takes between 10 and 30 minutes before the lid is safely removed.” “Quick release is safe for vegetables, meats, and recipes with shorter cooking times,” Cryer said.

Electric pressure cookers save energy because they cut cooking times by less than half compared to using a stovetop or oven. When compared to an electric slow cooker, an eight to ten hour recipe can be finished in an electric pressure cooker in half an hour or less. Pasta can be cooked in less than five minutes.

“I’m usually the one in my house who does most of the cooking during the holidays,” Street said. “It’s very helpful to have on hand when every stove on my stove is full.” Some stovetops have a non-stick attachment that saves time by allowing browning or frying in the same pan as the rest of the recipe. Dealers did not recommend any particular brand, but did provide specific details of the size and performance of the most popular types across a wide range of applications.

All material seen on screen at the beginning of the class was delivered in print form to be taken home for reference. Students were asked to rate each part of the class and provide feedback to improve upcoming sessions. The students made many positive comments as they enjoyed the food which was prepared in just one hour. Recipe conversions and equipment maintenance were provided during the meal.

The next chapter on Thursday, September 1 will cover baking, including a quick yeast recipe, Irish soda bread and some “cheats” by Cryer with premade biscuits. On Thursday, October 6, agents will exchange recipes for pies and fillings. On Thursday, November 17, the class will create holiday gifts. Classes are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and cost $30 per session. All ingredients and utensils are included and attendees can take home what they cook during class. To respond to the invitation to attend, call the Walker County Extension Office at 936-435-2426 or register online by clicking Homemade Huntsville at–huntsville/events/.

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