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When you love food, there is just so much to say!

When you love food, there is just so much to say!

When I talk or write about food, the term ‘scratch’ cooking is frequent! ‘Scratch’ to me means putting together fresh ingredients – not opening a box of mix and adding water/oil or eggs, as a few cooks through the years have tried to tell me!  Slicing purchased frozen cookie dough and calling them ‘home made” does not qualify as ‘scratch’.

Don’t get me wrong! There is a time for the convenience of mixes and frozen prepared foods and we utilize them at camp but they are not the ‘standard’.  Through the years I have found that many great chefs simply cannot make pancake batter from scratch but find it easy to fix omelets for the entire camp! Camp does its best to adapt to the talents of each culinary staff without departing from the Heart’s culinary philosophy.

Does everyone like everything we serve? No and neither do I! But the goal is to make sure every meal is balanced, nourishing and will fit the dietary needs as well as having menus which are very varied.  For girls who are constantly watching their weight we try to arrange each meal with that in mind.  If they are vegetarian, the goal is to see that there other protein options in the meal.  This was made easier when we added the salad bar but the kitchen staff always has something available to fit the needs – not whims- of every camper.

To me, one of the big opportunities of camp is learning to try new foods –this maybe more difficult for staff than campers – to increase their culinary horizons. I used to tell our children that until you try it, you don’t know if you like it.  Just as an unseasoned boiled potato tastes far different from a crispy French fry, sautéed fresh squash at Heart may taste totally different from what was served at school!

Si and I preached about trying new foods so much that when Jane was 12 and in Monterrey, Mexico, with our late friend Fred Poole, she decided she would order whatever he did because she had heard us talk about what a gourmand he was.  That worked fine until he ordered avocado stuffed with baby eels at The Louisiana.  I loved her solution: she just closed her eyes and ate – said as long as she couldn’t see the eyes or think about it, they were good! (I suspect she has never ordered them again, though).

And that was another thing we said: don’t say “I don’t like something” until you have tried it fairly.  If you don’t like it, then don’t order it when you are out eating – but always try everything put in front of you when you are a guest ….unless there is an allergy (and none of our four had real food allergies, fortunately!).

The lessons learned at camp cover so many areas of life!

Kathy Ragsdale

About the Author

Jane Ragsdale

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Jane Ragsdale (Mrs. Dick Howell) is the director of Heart O’ the Hills. She was a Heart camper and counselor, and served as program director from 1978-87. She has been one of the owners since 1976, and director since 1988.

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