Thursday, August 27, 2015

In Praise of 4H

After a week of temperatures in the mid 30 C range (mid  90 F) last week, the temperature today hasn't made it to 20 C. It feels like fall, although I expect we will have more warm weather, yet. With the cooler weather, came a request for some baking. (I refuse to turn the oven on if it is hot.)

Some Ginger Nectarine Oatmeal muffins, based loosely on a recipe I found on the web. I can't bake muffins without thinking about 4H.

The motto of 4H is "Learn to do, by doing", and our adult leaders embraced this, so we DID. We learned to cook, bake, sew, do an assortment of handcrafts, and (supposedly) garden. I was not keen on the gardening, as a teen, so I skipped those units.

It was in 4H that I learned to make things like German Potato Salad, Apple Crisp, Carrot Cookies, and Muffins. I remember when we were given the task of making one batch of muffins, gently folding the wet with the dry, and one batch, beaten as hard as we could. Then we had to critique them, so that we never forgot why you fold everything gently. Until then, I thought muffins were complicated, something that would take all day to make, if you didn't have a mix.

The program was sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and emphasized the use of fresh local food. We learned to appreciate which foods were in season, and we learned to use them in economical ways.

Those tomatoes are from the 4 plants I grew up my fence, and went into last night's salad.

On successful completion of a unit, we received a silver spoon.
Mine are tarnished now, I don't much use them, since they are the only silverware I own, but I was very proud of my spoons. Though it is hard to see, they say Ontario 4H Homemaking Club at the top. They showed that I was able to do grownup things like make a meal, or sew a housecoat. I have 8 spoons, and the cookbooks from my cooking units. I still cook out of the books. The recipes are actually timeless. If you look on the Foodland Ontario website you can probably find most of them.

So, thank you to all those lovely ladies that allowed me to step into your kitchens, with my friends Lynne, Cathy, Marion, and Patsy. I am sure we never left your kitchens as tidy as when we arrived. However, you gave me a gift that has lasted me a lifetime: the ability to feed myself and my family, nutritiously and economically. But I am pretty sure that was why you did it.


  1. Wonderful to have the spoons, I think skills in life should be part of each student's year. Recipes like these are always a treasure. I baked ABC muffins, Banana Loaf and a fruit cake yesterday, but nowhere near as hot as your temps..

  2. What a great idea......I don't think there is anything like 4H here. I don't bake in summer unless I really have to either, it's way too hot! The other day I made a maple syrup pumpkin cake, it's not bad but needs a little something else......not quite sure what, though......

  3. In our day it was called Home Economics. We did not get spoons, but we definitely became good at the baking part. The cooking part came later, when I got married I could not cook. My hubby thank goodness is a good cook. He believed because my mom was a good cook, that I had it in me to become one too! He was right, very brave of him. Would not mind tasting some of those muffins with my cup of tea...

  4. What a lovely tribute. 4-H was something very rural when I was growing up, or at least, that's my memory. Growing up in a town, I never had the pleasure. I think you were very lucky.