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Cooking with kids in Kittys Kitchen
KITTYS KITCHEN1-8-5-13-top
Hannah Aksland, center, is excited about finding more ingredients for her egg rolls during Sundays free Chinese cooking lessons for kids conducted at Kittys Kitchen ay North Main and Alameda streets. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Cooking has forever been one of my weaknesses.

I don’t think you’ll be able to find too many sports writers that like to cook or work on cars.

Cooking is not something I like to do, nor did I think it was something I would legitimately enjoy.

On Sunday morning my 27-year old grown self participated in a cooking class for children hosted by Kitty’s Kitchen located at 532 N. Main St. in Manteca. It was the second consecutive year the owner, Kitty, Mei offered this opportunity for local kids to take part in her free cooking lesson.

Considering I don’t have much experience in the kitchen, the lesson was a great challenge.

I was raised by my Hispanic grandparents growing up. My grandma was always cooking and preparing Mexican dishes in the kitchen.

After I moved out when I turned 18 with the woman I am now married to, needless to say I still wasn’t and still not ever required to cook.

When I worked in group homes for at-risk, troubled youth for three years in Utah, I was required to cook on weekends only for a house of 14 boys.

However, that wasn’t really considered cooking like how we did in Kitty’s Kitchen, where they serve Chinese or American Cuisine dishes along with several other items.

The extent of my cooking “dinner” for program kids was making macaroni and cheese with French fries and hot dogs. Or I had to “cook” burritos, nachos, hamburgers or chicken sandwiches (all frozen products).

I definitely learned a couple of things this weekend while trying not to embarrass myself in front of the 20 children and parents present for the lesson.

The day began with the class having to wash our hands, emphasizing the importance of sanitation and cleanliness in the kitchen. We then prepared three items.

The first item on the menu was spring rolls, followed by the cheese Rangoon and concluded with us making pork wontons.

Preparing the wontons was the most challenging of the three, hands down. The rest of the kids (ages three to 16) clearly outdid me.

All three lessons began with Kitty giving the instructions prior to all of us attempting to prepare the entrees.

For the wontons we used a circular wrapper, which was a dough skin pre-packaged affair made of flour, egg, water and salt.

There was also the pork meat we placed in the middle of the circular piece of dough. After, we lightly spread a coat of butter around the meat and then folded it over into a half-circle.

Of course there was a brush to use for the butter, but the little girl next to me didn’t seem to feel the need for that utensil.

The little girl, who couldn’t have been any older than my 5-year old daughter, used three of her fingers to apply the butter. I liked her style.

The most humiliating part of that process was attempting to roll the dough back into a circular shape of a wonton, which looked practically identical to a fortune cookie.

I just couldn’t get the wrap-around part, and my wontons looked deformed in comparison to the mostly elementary-aged students I was surrounded by.

After the cooks in the back made the food the class prepared it was brought out and served to everybody present, along with the chow mein that Kitty’s Kitchen cooked.

Everyone had the opportunity to eat, whether they used chopsticks or forks (optional). And watching the kids attempting to eat their food with chopsticks was comical.

One of the little boys used two hands while using his chopsticks, with one in each hand.

He savagely got the job done.

So did I.