“So, what are the boys doing this week?” asked my dad, knowing that working moms have to be very creative with child care during the summer. There’s a delicate balance between sending your progeny to too many camps and scheduled activities and letting them hang around the house getting so bored that electronic babysitting options suddenly become tempting. I work for FH Sacramento from my home office in the San Francisco Bay Area, part-time. It’s a wonderful arrangement, but the summers can be tricky.
“They’re going to cooking camp this week,” I replied, waiting for his reaction.
“Cooking camp? That’s terrific!” he affirmed. “A guy needs to know how to cook for himself.” My father’s support is not unexpected. He’s had to cook for himself a lot in his life. Others had fun teasing me about ballet classes, and other typically feminine pursuits, in good-natured ribbing.
The fact is, my twin nine-year-old sons, Joe and Ryan, are very interested in food and cooking, thankfully. They LOVED their experience at cooking camp and they’re already looking forward to next year.
What’s not to smile about when you’re minutes away from sampling homemade doughnuts for the mid-morning snack?
My friend Cindy holds the camp at her home. This is the first year that my sons have participated, and already Cindy’s my hero. It’s amazing to see the planning and dedication she puts into the four-day session. Each day the campers – clad in aprons embroidered with their name – prepare a main dish, side dish, and dessert to bring home for dinner. The first day my boys presented me with TWO Butter-Herb Rubbed Chickens for roasting, “Garbage” Potatoes (hash browns mixed with sour cream, Cheddar cheese, and chopped onions), and Chocolate Chip Snack Cakes. It was an embarrassment of riches and the perfect time to invite our neighbors over for dinner!
Day two brought “Inside Out Pizza” and Strawberry Pies, one of which landed squarely upside-down on the back seat of my car. No worries, we scooped it up and it was still delicious.
During the week we also ate the Barefoot Contessa’s Homemade Macaroni and Cheese, Lemon Cream Pies (Joe informed me that these are exactly the type of pies that clowns throw at each other in the circus), Mexican Lasagna, and S’more Bars. Needless to say, it wasn’t a week for dieting in our house.
Cindy’s favorite comment from this group of campers was, “What the heck are we doing inside the chicken’s private areas?” said while cleaning and seasoning the inside of the chickens before roasting.
A bonus: Last night Ryan explained how to set a table, including the location of the dessert spoon and salad fork. Hooray for Cindy and the newest cooks at the Kull household!
Mother Of All Chocolate Cake Inventions (as named by Cindy’s husband, Brian)
1bar (4 ounce) German Chocolate Bar
1 box plain vanilla cake mix or yellow cake mix
1 box (3.4 ounce) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degress. Lightly mist 10” tube pan (or 3 – 8” loaf pans) with cooking spray then dust with flour. Shake out any excess flour. Set pan aside.
Grate chocolate bar in food processor or hand grater. Set aside. Place cake mix, pudding, milk, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed for 1 minute. Fold in the grated chocolate bar and scrape down sides of the bowl.
Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 more minutes. With spatula, fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with a spatula. Place in oven.
Bake the cake until it is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, approximately 50 Minutes. (If using loaf pans please check around 25-30 minutes.)
Place on cooling rack for 20 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack then invert it again so it is right side up.**
** can be frozen ( well wrapped in foil) for 6 months