Participants in Saturday’s Blue Ribbon Recipes Cooking School had the opportunity to be served a five-course meal cooked by award-winning chefs.

They also had the opportunity to help make a difference to women statewide.

The Madison County Extension Homemakers hosted the cooking school, which featured chefs who have won first place, or blue ribbon awards, at the Madison County Fair and at a contest at Acres of Land.

All of the proceeds went to the University of Kentucky Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

This fund offers free ultrasounds to women age 50 or older who have no symptoms of ovarian cancer, as well as to women older than 25 who have a documented family history of ovarian cancer. This program was founded in 1987 and treats thousands of women each year. Kentucky Extension Homemakers help the program continue, by donating $1 per member annually.

Not only were the participants well fed, they also got the opportunity to learn and have fun at the same time.

Arritta Morris, a blue ribbon winner at this year’s county fair, made her peach mango ice tea and educated those in attendance about the origins of tea.

Morris is a retired school lunch coordinator for the Department of Education. She said the benefits of tea is its anti-oxidant power, thought to help slow aging. She suggested that tea always be brewed from leaves, as brewing through a bag interferes with the flavor of the tea. Black tea also contains tannins, similar to those found in red wine, which helps prohibit unhealthy levels of cholesterol, leading to better cardiovascular health, Morris said.

Pete Kensicki, also a blue ribbon winner at the county fair, delighted the audience with his teachings on the art of making homemade bread.

Kensicki said he fell in love with bread in his travels through eastern Europe. He taught audience members how to make a poolish, or a European type of bread starter. He also said that all good breads should be made with yeast and that yeast leaves holes in bread.

“The more holes, the better,” he said.

Making bread is an art, he said, one of love and of patience. Kensicki demonstrated to participants how to make his rustic hearth bread, which takes at least two days to complete.

“I like to say I have two things in my life that have taught me patience, baking bread and my daughter,” he said.

In addition, Katherine Land, owner of Acres of Land Winery, and winery chef Linda Burns, demonstrated how to make the winery’s eggplant parmesan. Pam Powell showcased her Tutti Frutti Baked Beans, made with blackberry wine. Both Powell and Burns won blue ribbons at Acres of Land’s contest. Also, Carol Kineslki demonstrated how to make her Hungarian Christmas stollen, a special type of fruit-filled cake. She, too, is a Madison County fair blue ribbon winner.

This was the sixth annual cooking school.

“It started as a fun little thing and I think it’s grown into our most popular event ever,” said Mary McCurdy, president of the Madison County Extension Homemakers.

“The purpose of the event is to have fun, but it’s also to make people aware that cooking can be fun,” said Gina Noe, Madison County Extension agent for the University of Kentucky Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. “It (cooking at home) is healthier than eating out and this class gives people tips on how to make cooking easier and the products it takes to make cooking easier.”

The event was conducted at the Madison County Extension office.

Emily Burton may be reached at eburton@richmondregister.com or at 624-6694.

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