LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A line of people moved from table to table inside the Laurel-London Optimist Club on Tuesday night, accepting samples of healthy foods that can be incorporated into the holiday season.
From table decor ranging from Christmas trees with a University of Kentucky theme to microwave candies from Tupperware, the offerings extended from American traditional treats to native favorites from other countries.
From muffins to turkey dinner pie, the 201 persons attending Tuesday night’s event taste tested meat, soups, and desserts ranging from cocktail meatballs, calico bean soup, pan rolls, and chocolate chip cookies.
The 16th annual Holiday Cooking School, sponsored by the eight counties comprising the Cumberland Valley area of the University of Kentucky’s County Extension Service, offered demonstrations of food preparation as well as recipes for the holiday season.
Nearly one-third of the participants were from Laurel County, according to Judi Cissell O’Bryan, Family and Consumer Sciences agent for the London office. That number, she said, was down from last year’s attendance, although the number of participants has steadily increased over the past 15 years since the cooking school began.
This year’s event, like in the past, offered the tasting samples and demonstrations as well as a cookbook containing recipes for all featured samples during Tuesday’s event. As participants went through the lines for samples, several tables offered recipes and informational brochures.
The Harlan County Homemakers Clubs worked together to comprise a handbook containing recipes and craft ideas to enhance the holiday spirit.
Sarah Brandl, with the state’s Nutrition and Education Program, gave a demonstration on “Master Mixes,” which can be frozen and reserved for use at a later time. Brandl told those in attendance that choosing freezer bags for such projects was better than the storage bags because the freezer bags were made of thicker plastic that protects against freezer burn. She also told participants of a change in food tastes in America.