Dormitory residents get crash course in cooking

Tech Sgt. Vernon Scott, enlisted aide to Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, instructs a group of Airmen on how to prepare chicken fajitas at Blanchard Barracks Jan. 8. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman R. Michael Longoria)

Tech Sgt. Vernon Scott, enlisted aide to Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, instructs a group of Airmen on how to prepare chicken fajitas at Blanchard Barracks Jan. 8. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman R. Michael Longoria)

Bolling AFB, D.C. -- Eight Bolling Airmen attended the first dormitory cooking classes held at Blanchard Barracks Jan. 8.

Two general officer enlisted aides held two 90-minute classes to teach Airmen how to better shop for, handle and prepare their own food.

The cooking class was the idea of Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery K. Bowes, 11th Wing command chief.

"With the closing of the dining facility, the need to educate Airmen on shopping, storing and preparing healthy food was evident," said Chief Bowes. "Maintaining proper health and fitness starts in the kitchen."

Before the cooking began, Tech. Sgt. Vernon Scott, enlisted aide to Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, briefed the Airmen on food care and rules to follow in the kitchen.

"Although food-borne illnesses can occur anywhere, it is more likely in a dormitory room where proper food handling and storage are difficult," Sergeant Scott said.

Below are a few things dorm dwellers need to keep in mind to help maintain safe food and lower the risk of injury are:
--Always take perishable food home quickly after grocery shopping.
--Do not leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
--Allow extra cooking time for food to cook food thoroughly when using a microwave oven. (In the dorm, other equipment can drain current from the electrical circuit causing a longer cooking time.)
--Refrigerate all carry-outs including pizza, fried chicken and Chinese food as soon as possible after serving.
--Always check "care packages" (food from home) to see if the cans or packages need to be refrigerated after opening.
--Eat at the desk to avoid getting crumbs on the floor or in the bed.
--Clean dishes immediately after eating.
--Use crates to store dry goods.
--Be prepared, keep the refrigerator stocked.
--Put only microwave-safe dishes in the microwave.
--Always cover food with wax paper or a paper towel before microwaving it to avoid splattering.
--Use a pot holder when removing anything from the microwave.

Following these precautions should lower the risk of food-borne illnesses and injury.

Sergeant Scott said for questionable food, the old adage "When in doubt, throw it out," still holds true.

After the briefing, the Airmen gathered into the dormitory kitchen for the cooking demonstration.

"This is what I've been waiting for," said Senior Airman Heather Knockaert, 11th Financial Management. "I took the class to learn new recipes."

Master Sgt. Tim Carter, enlisted aide to Lt. Gen. Carrol H. Chandler, and Sergeant Scott started off by showing the Airmen how to prepare an omelet and scrambled eggs. The other dishes demonstrated included a tossed chicken salad, chicken fajitas, quesadillas and pork chops.

"We choose items to prepare based on ease of preparation, cooking time, nutrition and cost," Sergeant Carter said. "We wanted to prepare healthy food with very little fat. All the meals we made require minimal preparation and take approximately 15 minutes to cook."

Airman Knockaert added, "The whole class was a great experience."

The cooking class will be held monthly. However, the exact date for February's class has yet to be set.

"The dorm residents are the first group we would like to take the class," said Chief Bowes. "But all Airmen are encouraged to attend the class."

Dormitory management will maintain a binder with all the recipes prepared in the class. To obtain a copy, residents should see a dorm manager.

To donate plates, bowls, pots, pans, silverware, cups and other kitchen utensils to dormitory residents, contact a unit first sergeant.