HARKER HEIGHTS — Callie Mathis wishes onions would just “die.” Although the 6-year-old Killeen resident is not a fan the purple-colored bulb, she made a Thanksgiving-themed lunch with it Wednesday during a children’s cooking class at the Harker Heights Activity Center.

Her mom, Laura Mathis, enrolled Callie in the class because the tiny chef loves experimenting in the kitchen.

“She’s always wanted to start cooking, and I don’t always have the time for it,” Mathis said. “It’s convenient to be able to have her take a class after school and get her into something like that. She’s tried dancing and gymnastics, but she wants to be cooking.”

Carly Ross decided to teach the course after she was unable to find a local cooking class for her daughters.

“I love to cook and I teach my own kids so it was a good fit for me,” Ross said.

She’s been teaching the monthly class, for children ages 5 to 12, since February and switches up the theme each month. Next month, students will learn to cook Christmas-themed breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts during the four weekly sessions.

Coming up with recipe ideas can be difficult for Ross, who has to consider time constraints in addition to teaching cooking vocabulary, safety and nutrition.

“It’s really neat how much they learn,” Ross said. “We go through the recipe before we start. We talk about safety and cleanliness in the kitchen and we use big words, too, like cross-contamination and salmonella.”

Mathis said the class has been great for Callie.

“She’s excited every week to be able to come,” Mathis said. “At home, she wants to cook and help out in the kitchen more.”

With her eyes barley peeking out from underneath her tall white chef’s hat, Callie reached over the edge of the kitchen island and guarded a red bell pepper as the rest of the class squeezed ground turkey meat out of its plastic wrapper and into a pot.

As the meat simmered, the class of eight boys and girls took turns using a food chopper to finely chop their vegetables.

“It’s getting killed,” Callie said as she “punched” the food chopper up and down. The onions finally “died” when she added them to the meat for her turkey sloppy joe.

Ross said the class is a great way to introduce children to new ingredients in a hands-on environment.

“I hear that over and over again from parents all the time,” she said. “They’ll cook, and all of a sudden, they start to eat new and better foods.”

Even though she wasn’t a fan of onions when the hourlong class began, Callie changed her mind as she chomped down on her culinary creation.

“It’s yummy,” she said.

Contact Sarah Rafique at srafique@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SarahRafique

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