Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

March 20, 2013

Students use creativity, mystery ingredients to cook up challenge

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Two pork chops, a bunch of baby bok choy, ginger, noodles, and olive oil were among the ingredients given to students in their mystery bags of groceries for the Food Challenge Wednesday morning at the Navarro County Youth Expo Food Challenge competition.

The students competed in two age categories — junior and senior. The seniors, mostly high school kids, dealt with the dreaded bok choy (an Asian vegetable), while the younger set was supposed to make a breakfast dish with eggs, bread, yogurt, and fruit.

The students weren’t told what to make, but were left to their own devices, which were dicey at times.

What would have been pretty good French toast ingredients turned into toast with scrambled eggs, or just bread with scrambled eggs, or yogurt-dipped strawberries, or yogurt with chopped up fruit. It was all about creativity.

For the older students, most of them hit on the right combination, an Asian noodle soup, but the bok choy ended up being garnish rather than an ingredient in many of the dishes.

Students with the Kerens FCCLA called theirs chicken noodle soup, but with pork, not chicken.

“I think we can make it work,” said Ebony Sayles. “The ginger root is the only thing throwing us off.”

The three members of the Corsicana 4-H team, which had already qualified to compete in the state food challenge competition, looked at the ingredients and grinned.

“Very interesting, and very easy,” said Elizabeth Bailey. “This is way better than couscous — or fish.”

Ryan Dillman, of the Blooming Grove FCCLA “Whiskers” group, admitted there were some odd ingredients in the bag, some they’d never seen, but he also admitted it wasn’t as bad as it could be.

“I’ve had tofu before,” he said.

On the juniors side of the room, it was breakfast all the way, and most of the groups ended up with scrambled eggs or French toast, but they all seemed pretty happy just to be there.

The Kerens students who called themselves “Duck Dynasty,” with competitors from both 4-H and FFA, weren’t so much into planning as they were into just throwing stuff into a pan and seeing what happens.

“What we do is cook all the stuff first, and then put it together,” explained Matthew Combs. “Then we decide how to do it.”

The Duck Dynasty fake beards weren’t put on until after all the cooking was over, just to clarify.

Winners of the Food Challenge were as follows: (Junior teams) First, Mrs. Kay’s Girls from 4-H Kerens, Emily Pruitt, Anna Combs, Emmie Lane and Rylee Colvin; second, Collins Catholic Discovery 4-H, Lisa Whiteside, Tessa Butler, Rachel Hacker and Caroline Mousner; third, Duck Dynasty Boys of Kerens 4-H, Jason Pruitt, Matthew Combs, Nicholas Pugh and Tate Engel.

Among the senior teams, first was won by Corsicana 4-H, Isaina Flores, Taylor Bailey and Elizabeth Bailey; second, Las Rosas of Kerens FCCLA, Alicia Beltran, Gaby Maldonado, Stefanny Limon and Ebony Sayles; third, the Whiskers of Blooming Grove FFLCA, Ryan Dillman, Peyton Briggs, Joyce Ramirez, Mailee Davis and Shada Luma.


Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: