by Samantha Lampert
Thanks to a collaboration between Residence Life and Housing, Environmental Health and Safety, and the Food and Nutrition Lab at UD, free cooking classes were made available to University of Delaware students in an effort to encourage safe cooking.
On-campus and off-campus cooking fires happen often, are very dangerous, and can easily be avoided with the correct precautions. These two-week sessions were offered during March and April, and provided a thorough education on kitchen safety as well as free cooking classes to allow students the opportunity to cook and eat, safely!
Fire safety presentations centered around the stove, oven, and microwave were given before every cooking session. These presentations were created and presented by UD’s own Fire Marshall, Kevin McSweeney. From his many years of protecting students, Mr. McSweeney used numerous firsthand experiences to emphasize how important it is to take preventative measures when cooking in the dorms, to ensure the safety of yourselves and those around you.
Some of these included the many fires that have occurred due to microwaving Easy Mac without adding water, or putting popcorn in for 20 minutes instead of 2! Many students were able to relate, since they have experienced or been guilty of these accidents within their residence halls. Mr. McSweeney’s presentations included many common mistakes, tips, fun facts and directions as to how to cook safely.
The students then got to put what they learned into action! The sessions were split into two parts; oven and microwave safety and stove top safety. The recipes were chosen accordingly, so that the students could apply what they learned from the specific presentations. All the ingredients, recipes, and cooking tools were provided by the food lab, and ready to go when the students arrived.
Stove top safety sessions included recipes such as soup, stir fry, grilled cheese, quesadillas and falafel. Stove top cooking required attention to the gas and flame, using the right size pot and pan covers, and to continuously monitor the foods as they were cooking.
After attending the stove top safety session, Electrical Engineering student Brandon Stacy said, “I didn’t know that oils had different temperatures that they should be cooked with, or that using a burner that matches the size of the pot is important. Learning these things will help me cook better in the future.”
Chocolate chip cookies, enchiladas, sweet potato fries, and pizza were all parts of the oven safety sessions! The students were taught about proper cooking skills such as always setting a timer, correct pan placement, and learned what to do in case of an oven fire.
“Cooking is fun, but cooking safely is even better. Getting to learn how to make really good food, and eating it, was a great experience. The presentations taught me a lot of things that I didn’t know before, and I will definitely be cooking safer now,” says Junior (Geology), Graham Prowse.
Once all the recipes were complete, they were put out on a main table for everyone to try. It was a collective agreement among the students that knowing you cooked food safely makes eating it a lot better!
The Cook, Learn, Eat classes supported active learning by providing the students with free cooking session to practice what they learned. Keep an eye out for next semester’s classes!