Cultural cooking in Hill County

MSU Extension office hopes to bring flavor and food knowledge to the area


Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

Curt Lineweaver adds indigents to a stir-fry as Thursday recently cut cabbage rests on a cutting board during the Asian cuisine part of a four-part series called Cooking Across Cultures being taught at Havre High School.

Asian cuisine highlighted the night as Montana State University's Hill County Extension Office finished up their four-session Cooking Across Cultures series.

"This is something new in Hill County and Great Falls," said Jasmine Carbajel, the family and consumer science extension agent in Hill County, adding that she and an extension agent at the Cascade County Extension Office decided to plan the cooking classes to be held in both Great Falls and Havre to bring new cultural foods and knowledge to the communities.

Along with the Asian night, the series held Irish, Italian, and Latin cooking classes.

The Italian class in Havre had to be canceled, though, Carbajel said, because no one signed up.

About four participants have been in each class in Havre and about 10-12 in Great Falls, she added.

For each session the two extension agents, who both have a cooking background, would decide on two to three recipes and then consult a chef about them, Carbajel said.

"It is a hands-on class ... we want participants to gain knowledge ... (for) participants to help teach each other," Carbajel said, adding that the agents are just teaching the basics and it is a student-centered class.

Let's Get Cooking!

For the Asian night, Carbajel gave the six participants the recipes for the night which included stir-fried soba noodles, Asian cashew-roasted brussel sprouts and fresh fruit spring rolls.

Each class, she added, also has a focus of one food group from the government eating guidelines MyPlate; the focus for Asian food night was fruit.

Since she was not able to find soba noodles at the grocery store, Carbajel said, she also wanted to focus on using substitutions in recipes, adding that the soba recipe would be using whole wheat noodles instead.

"Students cook, I am just here to facilitate," Carbajel said before splitting the students into groups to man the different recipe stations.

Carbajel helped the students with different cooking techniques such as cutting different fruits and vegetables, baking and boiling food, and how to use the paper wrappers in the spring rolls.

Mayce Brenna, who was participating in her fourth food-related class through the extension office, said she was happy these classes were started because she used to drive to Great Falls for cooking classes.

"I love to cook ... I usually cook for my husband ... my children when they come home," Brenna said, adding that she had also attended the Latin cooking class, a class about cooking with pressure cookers, and a canning class.

Amanda Powell, who attended with her daughter Jasmine Powell, said she signed up because she works with Carbajel.

"Jasmine does a lot of the cooking," she said about her daughter, adding that they may use the recipes they learned for a special meal.

His love of cooking with noodles brought Curt Lineweaver and his wife, Autumn Lineweaver, to the class.

"I am obsessed with noodles," Curt Lineweaver said jokingly.

"We do like to cook together," Autumn Lineweaver said, adding that it was their 10-year wedding anniversary and they enjoyed spending it learning to cook new dishes.

Eating and Learning

After the food was prepared, the students sat down to eat together while Carbajel talked about MyPlate and the nutrition of different dishes.

"Having colorful things throughout the day is important ... they have different nutrients," she said, adding that it is important to have "a rainbow of fruits and vegetables."

In response to a question by a student, Carbajel added that it is not recommended to skip meals, unless it is a diet given by a doctor.

"We would like to do more classes in the future," Carbajel said, adding that she would like community member's input about what kind of cooking for food-related classes they would like in the future.

People who want more information about future classes or have ideas and suggestions about cooking classes they would like to have can email Carbajel at [email protected]


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