Students get cooking

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Neil Nguyen, left, and Olivia Reeb go over the recipe for a pumpkin dessert Monday during a project at Zia Elementary School while teacher Rose Ellen Dunn pours batter into a pan.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

After tapping an egg on the corner of the table, Zack Austin timidly tried to pull it apart with his thumbs. Encouraged by a nearby parent volunteer, he pushed harder and the egg shattered, spilling its contents on the table.

“That’s OK, that happens when you’re cooking and it’s no big deal,” Robin Kuykendall said as she helped him clean up the egg.

Kuykendall was one of four parents helping Austin’s second-grade class make a pumpkin dessert Monday at Zia Elementary School.

“I love being up here helping,” she said, directing her group to pour melted butter on top of their concoction.

The class plans to share the dessert with their parents today after a Thanksgiving performance at the school.

Rose Ellen Dunn said she has done the cooking exercise with her students for several years. The lesson incorporates math, reading, teamwork and fun, she said.

She said the students studied the recipe ahead of time.

“OK, you know how sprinkling works,” she said as she prepared one of the boys to put the top layer on the cake.

Her voice gentle and friendly, she helped position his hands.

“It doesn’t say dump it over the top, it says sprinkle it … Oh what a mess we’re making,” she said, smiling.

The majority of the 22-student class colored quietly while waiting to help with mixing, pouring and measuring at one of two preparation tables in the cafeteria.

“Scary” was how Austin described his first egg cracking experience.

“Because you push on it and don’t know when it’s going to crack, and then it busts and you’re like all surprised,” the 7-year-old said.

Sydni Hill said she enjoyed her role in the cooking project. “I gotta crack the egg and stir it,” she said.

Hill said she would see how it tasted after the presentation.

“I don’t know (if I like pumpkin), I haven’t tried it before,” she said.


What Rose Ellen Dunn’s class made:

Pumpkin dessert

Grease a 9×13 inch pan

Mix the following together:
3 eggs
2 15 ounce cans pumpkin
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons ginger

Pour mixture into greased pan

Sprinkle 1 box yellow cake mix (dry) over mixture

Melt 2 sticks of butter and drizzle over cake mix. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Cool in pan then cut into squares. Serve with whipped cream.