Edible Creations

Photo by Stephanie Zhang

After senior Liam Carolan decides on which dish to make, he lays out all the required utensils and ingredients for preparing the meal. With measuring cups and mixing bowls set up, Carolan acquires pastry mats, cutting boards and the appropriate cutlery. In order to achieve efficiency and a quick cleanup afterwards, he sorts out all of his ingredients before he begins cooking. As an avid cook, Carolan often concocts recipes of his own. He said cooking is a rewarding experience throughout the different steps that the process of creation entails.

“From the beginning to the end, each phase presents a sense of satisfaction,” Carolan said. “It’s gratifying beyond words to know that the end product was fashioned by my own hands.”

As he attributes his interest in food to the appreciation for the culinary arts his father instilled in him, Carolan said he enjoys both baking and sharing his final products with others in the end. He said his favorite food to fashion is shortbread because of the pleasure it brings many people.

“I’m always prepared to experiment and dabble with new styles of cooking and baking, which means trying out new recipes. My father was a trained chef, so I’ve always had a fondness for the culinary arts,” Carolan said. “Cooking and baking are most definitely hobbies of mine. From a young age, my father inspired me to pursue my culinary interests and follow my taste buds.”

Carolan said the experience he has gained over time has given him a greater sense of confidence that allows him to deviate from recipes at times.

“Recipes are meant to be guidelines. I find that getting a feel for the measurements and giving it your best judgment tend to work (out) just as well as any recipe,” Carolan said.

“Recipes are meant to be guidelines. I find that getting a feel for the measurements and giving it your best judgment tend to work (out) just as well as any recipe.”

Senior Liam Carolan

On the other hand, Gabrielle Everhart, Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, said she disagrees with this approach and discourages students from trying the tactic of experimentation while cooking and baking.

“It kind of depends on what it is, but (I have students) read the recipe,” Everhart said. “We have certain criteria they need to meet on their product evaluations, and if they make that, it’s successful.”

Lexi Russell, co-founder of Baking a Difference and junior, said she also promotes strict adherence to recipes to members of her club. However, she said this is because their final aim is not to create a singular recipe.

“We usually get recipes (online), so they’re not on our own,” Russell said. “You have to be able to strictly follow a recipe step-by-step. We try to have the members stay on the precise amount of ingredients per recipe.”

Carolan said because he bakes on his own time, free from the administration of supervisors or others, he is free to change recipes to better suit his own tastes and preferences.

“The Scottish shortbread recipe I use has been in my family for years,” Carolan said. “I’ve taken my own approach to it and have made a few minor alterations, which I believe have improved the biscuit greatly.”

By experimenting as he bakes, Carolan said he gains a better understanding of food itself. He does not see food simply as a source of nourishment nor does he focus entirely on the final product. Instead, he said it is more a creative pursuit to him.

“When it comes to cooking, it helps to have a firm understanding of how different ingredients interact with each other, knowledge that’s acquired with experience and a lot of trial and error. It’s largely personal preference, so do what you feel is right,” Carolan said.

Below: A collection of the makings and products in the class Nutrition and Wellness: Orientation to Foods

Photos by Lauren Lu

However, Carolan said some people’s approaches to cooking could hinder the success of their final products. However, he said other technical issues also arise in regards to a lack of skill.

“Common errors typically include minor injuries, such as burns and cuts, as a result of inexperience or carelessness,” Carolan said. “A lot (of) failures when cooking are a result of (being) timid. It’s crucial to take control of your kitchen and have confidence when you’re cooking. Success in cooking requires careful planning and proper preparation as well as a watchful eye and the right ingredients.”

Obstacles also arise when the recipe is followed, however, as Russell said some of her club’s projects do not always match up to standards.

“Sometimes the food doesn’t come out the way we want, and we have to throw those goods away, which is frustrating,” Russell said.

In the end, Russell said she learns from her baking experiences, as the hobby allows her to make something new on her own by combining many different parts.

“I like watching the recipes come to life,” Russell said. “It makes me feel accomplished because I know I did something right and made something so small become big.”

This is the type of attitude Everhart said she aspires to instill within her students. As her students work on different projects throughout the year, Everhart said each one has a purpose in preparing these students for their futures. When it comes to cooking, Everhart said she hopes her students will not only purchase food responsibly but also appreciate making something with their own hands.

“Making (food) from scratch, the students learn what goes into their food, so they’re not buying stuff off of the shelf. There are a lot of different things that make up the final food, and they’re not always healthy,” Everhart said. “By the end, they can just appreciate putting effort into something, like making something from simple ingredients.”

Building upon a rudimentary idea of the type of dish he hopes to produce, Carolan said he hopes to continue with his interest. Although he politely refrained from sharing any of his original recipes, Carolan did offer some advice instead.

He said, “Always keep your apron on.”

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Natalia Chaudhry