By Kailey Fisicaro

The Bulletin

Educational news and activities, and local kids and their achievements

SISTERS — As other students settled into T.R. McCrystal’s culinary classroom last week, sophomore Jackie May, 15, headed toward the front of the room.

Each of the students have to try out a recipe at home during the semester and present it to the class for a taste test. Both presenters Friday, Jackie and freshman Ryan Waddell, 15, had decided on desserts.

“Are those mint brownies?” one student asked, as Jackie set the clear tub of chocolate treats with green lining on the front table.

“We shall see,” McCrystal said.

Jackie explained the brownies were easy to make, but the mint frosting was something new.

“The frosting had a lot of powdered sugar and butter,” she said.

McCrystal commented how surprising it is to see powdered sugar absorb so quickly into frosting as you make it: A dump of the fine sugar quickly shrinks into the frosting once you start mixing.

When it was Ryan’s turn, he showed he had made a pear crisp.

“Did you bring ice cream for us?” McCrystal teased.

Ryan said he had plenty of pears at home already, so it made sense to put them in a dish.

McCrystal said that’s a popular and smart idea for cooks — using what you already have in large supply. In this class, McCrystal’s fourth period, the students are all beginner cooks. At the start of the trimester, they learned basics like knife skills and earned their food handler cards through Deschutes County.

As owner of Cottonwood Cafe, McCrystal teaches part time. He said in a tourist town like Sisters, it’s smart for teens to have their food handler cards so they can snap up service industry jobs over the summer.

After Jackie and Ryan had finished their short presentations, they started placing brownies and pieces of the tart on plates to hand out to fellow students. McCrystal started to move on to the rest of the fourth-period agenda, but many of the teens’ eyes lingered on the sweets.

As a quirky introduction, McCrystal pulled up a YouTube clip of the opening credits for “The Banana Splits and Friends Show,” to let students know they’d be making banana splits with homemade chocolate sauce. The students giggled at the unfamiliar, ’60s-era show.

While they snacked on their desserts, McCrystal explained the math behind divvying up the ice cream and the bananas.

“How many ounces are in a quart?” McCrystal asked.

“Thirty-two,” one of the students answered.

McCrystal had bought three quarts of ice cream for the 23 students.

“So 32 times 3 is what, 96,” he said, writing it on the board. “Someone get out their cellphone and divide 96 by 23.”

The students obliged, finding each of them could take half a cup.

To make the sauce, McCrystal explained, the students needed to microwave just half a cup of milk and once it was almost boiling, pour it over a cup of chocolate chips and mix.

The students got to work right away, pouring the milk, then heating it in the microwave. After one group poured the steaming milk over the chocolate, they put the pan on the burner to heat again. McCrystal came over to gently correct their mistake.

Jackie’s group stirred the milk to melt the chocolate, cut bananas and scooped ice cream.

When senior Spencer Risenmay, 17, thoroughly soaked his banana split in chocolate sauce, other students, and McCrystal, had to laugh.

“Tastes like chocolate,” Spencer said, joking.

While the students tried their banana splits, the room grew quiet. For the teens, the class teaches some simple essentials to home cooking.

Freshman Payton Nash, 15, said he’s taken the skills home with him.

“We learned how to make eggs, and then I did that at home,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325,