We continue our interview with Keisha T. Prosser – The Mobile Cooking Teacher (view first interview here: Using Your Cooking Skills To Teach Others About Good Nutrition).
Splendid Recipes: Welcome back Keisha.
Keisha: Hi Randy and thanks, I am glad to be here again.
Splendid Recipes: Would it be fair to say that you as an instructor in cooking are inspiring a new generation of cooks?
Keisha: Yes I feel that I am. Young children and teens today are exposed to a lot of unhealthy foods, such as junk food as it is referred to.
Splendid Recipes: Tell us what are the first things that you are teaching this new generation of cooks?
Keisha: I am teaching them the basics to good cooking.
Splendid Recipes: And what are the basics Keisha?
Keisha: Well, there are five things all cooks should know and incorporate regularly when it comes to preparing a wholesome meal.
Splendid Recipes: I like the way you say “wholesome meal.” Besides teaching these young children and teens to cook, you are also passionate about the food being wholesome.
Keisha: Yes Randy that is correct. They need to learn that they can make great food for themselves without depending on ordering food out from a fast food establishment.
Splendid Recipes: Okay, so explain to us the five things you explain to your students before you start cooking.
Keisha: The very first things you need to do before you even touch your cooking utensils, recipe card or book, and food items, is wash your hands. Washing your hands cannot be overemphasized, as it can prevent food borne illnesses.
A lot of food borne illness come from cooks and food servers who are not washing their hands properly. A cook, either it be one working in public food serve or a home cook needs to always make sure they wash their hands just before they get started.
That includes after touching raw meats, taking out the trash, going to the bathroom, smoking a cigarette, and even answering the cell phone.
Splendid Recipes: Remind us the proper washing of the hands before, during and after preparing food.
Keisha: Wash your hands under running water for 20 seconds, and be sure it is warm water. You also need to use an anti-bacteria soap and a single paper towel.
Splendid Recipes: Okay now your students have their hands washed. What instructions do you teach about preparing raw uncooked foods?
Keisha: Always make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables before using them to cook with. Also a meat thermometer is not only for use during Thanksgiving. We need to use a meat thermometer all year around, every time you cook with meat.
Food, and that includes raw meat and produce, needs to be cooked at its proper temperature.
Splendid Recipes: Can you tell us the proper use of a thermometer in cooking?
Keisha: Sure. First I would like to say that it is very important to make use of a cooking thermometer, because in the United States alone, 1 in 6 Americans or about 3,000 individuals will get sick and die from food poisoning this year.
Splendid Recipes: And all because a food preparer failed to take precautions and wash their hands. Wow, it’s so important to do that. Okay now tell us about the proper cooking temperatures.
Keisha: The proper way to use a cooking or meat thermometer is to place it in the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, fat or gristle. Wait for 3 to 5 seconds to read the thermometer.
Splendid Recipes: What are the proper cooking temperatures for the different types of raw meat cooked.
Keisha: Well, for beef, pork, or veal it needs to be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (62.78 °C). Ground Meats need cooking to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71.1 °C), poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73.8 °C), that includes a chicken that is either whole, cut into sections or ground.
Eggs and any dish that is made with eggs should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71.1 °C), and fish needs only be cooked to 145 F. Fahrenheit (62.7 °C).
Splendid Recipes: What about leftovers?
Keisha: Thanks for asking that question. Even left overs, though they have been properly cooked, still need to be warmed to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73.8 °C) to kill any possible illness causing bacteria.
Not cooking or rewarming your food properly is another way to get a food borne illness.
Splendid Recipes: Okay, so we have discussed two tips that are important to cooking. 1. Washing your hands, before, during, and after food preparations. And 2. Cooking foods to their proper temperature.
Both of these tips help to avoid food borne illnesses. I think you have 3 more tips Keisha?
Keisha: Yes I do. The third one makes reference to a French culinary phrase, which is Misen En Place, which means, putting in place. I explain to my students that being a good cook requires everything to be in its place.
You also need to read the recipe through to make sure you have all the ingredients and cooking utensils needed. Because it’s not fun when you’re ready to start baking some cookies and you don’t have any baking soda, vanilla extract or eggs.
Splendid Recipes: So, once the student cooks have their, Misen En Place as you called it, what’s next?
Keisha: A good cook needs to keep their kitchen area and prep area organized and clean. A cook needs to make sure they keep raw meat and ready to eat foods separate. I recommend that you start prepping your vegetables first. Place them in a bowl off to the side and then start on your raw meat.
It is also important to have separate cutting boards, that is one for your raw meat and another for your vegetables. You can buy color coded cutting board for this very purpose.
Splendid Recipes: Yes, we have written about that here at Splendid Recipes and More. Our article was Stocking the Kitchen with Useful Gadgets for Healthy Cooking. We wrote that to reduce the chance of cross contamination, why not use flexible cutting boards, which are of different colors for use with different types of food such as raw meat, cooked meat, dairy and vegetables.
Keisha: Yes that is right. I show my students the different colors they need, such as a beige colored cutting board for fish, blue for cooked foods, green for fruits and vegetables, red for raw meat, white for dairy products, and yellow for uncooked or raw poultry.
Splendid Recipes: You mentioned Keisha at the start of our interview that you are teaching your young students the basics to good cooking. Would it be fair to say your hope is, after your students have gone through your cooking classes, that they will rely on their own kitchen, fresh food and their cooking skills to eat healthy.
Keisha: Oh yes, that is so right.
Splendid Recipes: Okay, that is 4 tips. What is the fifth tip?
Keisha: The fifth one is making a shopping list. The wasteful thing to do is to go to the super market without a shopping list and even on a hungry stomach.
If you go to the market hungry, then your stomach will actually be your shopping list. You are so hungry, that you may just walk up and down all the wrong aisles. And you end up going home with over 95% of your shopping bags filled with process foods and junk foods.
The best thing is to always make sure you go shopping on a full stomach, and with a shopping list. Having one will help you to avoid walking down the aisles that have boxed cereals, candy, canned foods, bagged chips and other foods.
Splendid Recipes: So the secret to shopping for food, is go to the store on a full stomach, and have a shopping list to buy only what you need, and too avoid the canned and boxed food aisles.
Keisha: Yes, that’s right. The secret is to walk the parameter of the store, and do you know why?
Splendid Recipes: I have an idea, but tell us why?
Keisha: The parameter of the store contains the food you need, which includes fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and dairy.
Splendid Recipes: So to recap the 5 tips you shared.
Keisha: Yes, the tips included…
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
- Cooking foods to their proper temperature.
- Misen En Place or make sure you kitchen area and prep area organized and clean. Also make sure you have everything before cooking or baking.
- To prevent cross contamination and food borne illnesses, use color coded flexible cutting boards.
- Have a shopping list, don’t go to the store on a empty stomach, and shop the parameter of the store.
Splendid Recipes: Will Keisha, that is all the time we have. What will you share with us next?
Keisha: I would like to share about cooking together as a family.
Splendid Recipes: Great we look forward to that. Return March 20, 2016 to hear what Keisha will share with us on cooking together as a family.
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