Sheila M. Haynes, Coolman, Denise | 4/22/2005 8:07:55 PM
Thirteen-year-old Macie Pruitt hopes her rendition of an old family favorite recipe is a winner in this year’s 4-H Commodity Cookery Contests.
Pruitt, a 4-H’er at Pioneer Elementary School in West Carroll Parish, plans to enter the Northeast Louisiana 4-H Commodity Cookery contest March 30 in Monroe. Area commodity cookery and Ambassador Talks contests are being held across the state, and winners in the talks contests will meet May 11 in Baton Rouge for the state competition.
The "Hawaiian Delight" cake recipe Pruitt is using already proved to be a success for her family when her aunt won a ribbon with it in a 1979 cookery contest.
"I heard a lot about it and how good it tasted," Pruitt said. "So I decided I’d try it."
The recipe resulted in a blue ribbon for her Aunt Penny Hale, who baked the cake and entered the illustrated talk category during her days as a 4-H’er.
"It was a lot of fun," Hale said. "And it gave me the opportunity to speak in front of people. The experience was very valuable."
Hale has used her 4-H experiences in her professional life as a first-grade teacher, assistant principal, basketball coach and 4-H leader at Pioneer Elementary School. And she said youth organizations such as 4-H are good for young people, because they promote positive life experiences.
Hale’s mother and Pruitt’s grandmother agrees. Nannie Hale is a special education teacher and former 4-H leader at Pioneer Elementary School. She said her three daughters – Susan, Penny and Tracie – were in 4-H and benefited "greatly" by being involved in the program while they were growing up.
"We traveled everywhere with the 4-H Club," Nannie Hale said. "All three of my girls won trips to places like Madison, Wis., where they showed dairy cows. We also went to Washington D.C., Chicago and Florida.
"4-H has been good to us," she continued. "We were able to go to a lot of places and see a lot of things we might not have gotten to had it not been for our involvement in 4-H."
It’s evident Nannie Hale’s family has been involved in 4-H. Located in the front living room of her house is a set of shelves loaded with trophies.
"These are our 4-H trophies," she said. "Every trophy we’ve won is on these shelves."
Pruitt hopes to add another trophy to the collection.
"She’s been practicing a lot," Nannie Hale said. "The only thing she really has to work on is learning how to follow a recipe."
Nannie Hale says Pruitt would rather just get in the kitchen and cook without following a recipe.
"Sometimes, when she has overnight guests, I’ll get up at 3 a.m., and they will be in the kitchen cooking eggs or some other dish," Nannie Hale said. "She likes to cook."
Pruitt admits she doesn’t like to follow recipes. She likes cooking her own way.
"You just have to know what to do," she said.
A love for cooking seems to run throughout the entire family. Pruitt’s 5-year-old brother Mason often stands on a chair and helps her in the kitchen.
"I can cook," Mason Pruitt declared. "I can make an omelet."
This is the first year Macie Pruitt has entered the 4-H Commodity Cookery contest. She said she knows there will be a lot of competition, but she is ready.
Sheila Haynes, an LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in West Carroll Parish, said she believes Pruitt and the other 4-H’ers will do well in the competition.
"Macie is a model 4-H’er," Haynes said. "She’s president of the Pioneer Elementary School 4-H Club, and she’s also involved in other school and community activities. This (competition) will be good experience for her, as well as the other 4-H’ers."
For information on such contests and the variety of activities offered through the 4-H youth development program, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.