March 17th, 2009 5:33 pm | by Samantha Herman News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Send the Intern: Taste of Home Cooking School


Wondering what event could drag 300 people out to the sleepy suburbs of Hillsboro on a Wednesday night? Wonder no more. Taste of Home magazine (you know, the ones that sit by the checkstand at the supermarket and claim to have 300 casserole recipes inside) sent one of their enthusiastic traveling chefs to the Washington County Fair Complex last week to show people how easy it is to make, uh, sugar water (also called “Orange Lemonade” by the Taste of Home recipe writers). And the people flocked to it.

A brief discuss about the exhibits is necessary, but it will be quick because there were only about 12 booths. Among them was the Alpenrose Dairy booth (the importance of which will be shared later), the L – Bar –T Bison Ranch, two day spa booths, two chiropractors, MAD Cravings which specializes in "cakeballs," and the Magic Rug Emporium. The Magic Rug Emporium did add to the sparse decor by hanging up rugs all along the walls, but they chose to leave all of the huge handwritten price tags on each of the rugs, which definitely detracted from the ambiance.

When the actual cooking show started at 7 pm, it was aired on two projector screens on either side of the stage. The traveling chef was extremely perky, and throughout the entire two hour show, her enthusiasm never waned. She excitedly told the audience that at the end of the evening, everyone would be entered in a raffle to win the food that was cooked during the show. “If you win food, you get to take it home on the platter!” she gushed, as though winning a glass plate was the equivalent of winning the lottery. Of course, she didn't talk for the full two hours. She would take occasional breaks and it was during one of those breaks that I learned how to make Frosted Graduation Caps. It's simple, really. You just cut off the muffin top, put it on a plate upside down, and frost it in the school's color. Then you frost a cracker, put it on top, and add a black licorice tassel. And that sounds great until someone takes a big bite of a frosted saltine. No one will ever ask you to cook for a party again.

It should be noted that sometime during one of these breaks, I won a “blue cooler full of goodies!” The goodies proved to be two water bottles, two low-fat breakfast bars, and an unidentifiable prepackaged snack in a sealed silver bag. After a lot of imaginative speculation, my friend and I opened the silver bag to find mini cinnamon-flavored rice cakes. This was not what we were expecting; however, we made the best of it by washing down the rice cakes with tiny samples of chocolate milk courtesy of the Alpenrose Dairy booth.

To be frank, my friend and I spent most of the evening sitting in the second to last row, cracking jokes and snickering at the ridiculousness of the whole affair. Neither of us have much time to make dinner, much less make fruit tarts and blueberry scones. We do not own immersion blenders or garlic presses; in fact, I didn't even know what an immersion blender was until last night. But it was for a good cause (namely, the Sparrow Clubs) and I'm always a sucker for a charity event that only costs $10. And who couldn't use some chocolate milk and a couple hours of laughter?

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