There is a simple pleasure in sharing what you know with others, and as if that were not satisfaction enough, when you teach you also learn.
Over the years I’ve taught my children to cook, and I’ve already begun that with my granddaughters (“Let me, Nana!). I started this blog to share my love of cooking and whatever modest knowledge I’ve acquired over the years with my children and anyone else out there who might be interested. But recently my teaching became more formal as I had the opportunity to teach my first-ever cooking class, in a real demonstration kitchen. You know, one with a mirror tilted over the work surface so the participants could have an overhead view of what I was doing. How cool was that?
I certainly don’t want to suggest that teaching a cooking class is simple, because it’s not. My goodness, it was a lot of work, but the kind that warms my heart. The subject was “Root of the Matter,” in celebration of seasonal root vegetables. I wanted to showcase the versatility of root veg in snacks, starters, main courses and even desserts. While I was in the midst of researching, planning and testing the menu, the poster for the workshop was issued. OMG, they made me sound like a celebrity! The pressure went up a notch or two at that point 😊.
Along with teaching the recipes, I wanted to focus my session on what I like to call ‘real life in the kitchen.’ Fortunately (or not) I did have a few missteps along the way during the class, but worked my way through them (calmly, I hope), sharing tips for coping with challenges and calamities. That’s what we do every day in the kitchen, right?
- The onions and garlic I was sweating for the soup somehow started to caramelize? No big deal, the colour of the soup might change but it may taste even better.
- Some of the root vegetable chips were a little, shall we say, floppy? Well, they still tasted good, and one of the class participants told us about the tools she uses to achieve perfectly crisp chips every time. There you go, cooks learn through sharing!
- There were some lumps in the soup that was supposed to be creamed? Texture adds interest, and it’s important to check it before you serve it.
When you let people know that things will go wrong from time to time, even for seasoned cooks, and that they usually can fix or adapt to the situation, it gives them a realistic expectation of what cooking is all about. How daunting would it be if we only talked about perfection? The lesson that we learn and get closer to excellence with each mistake we make might have been the most important one I shared (and demonstrated) that evening.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of teaching a cooking class, and hope I’ll be able to do so again some time. I learned so much, and am grateful to the London Community Resource Centre (LCRC) for the opportunity. I’m also immensely grateful to the other volunteers who helped with the shopping and prep, and made things a whole easier for me. Thank you, Dianne and Linda!
Oh, the menu? You’ll be seeing a few of the dishes here on Life Through the Kitchen Window soon, and you can also see them on the LCRC blog (they’re being posted there in stages). Our offerings for the evening included: ginger tea, root vegetable chips, celeriac soup, roasted root vegetables, root vegetable salad with orange vinaigrette and potato turnip mash. And for dessert? Why, carrot ginger cupcakes with ginger cream cheese frosting.
I volunteer for the London Community Resource Centre, where the programs include community gardens and Grow Cook Learn, an initiative that promotes gardening and home cooking. Their focus on food security issues aligns with my own real food and scratch cooking philosophy. When I heard about LCRC I knew right away I wanted to be associated with them. I’m now part of their social media team, posting on their Facebook page, tweeting for them @LondonCRC and writing the occasional post for their blog. If you live in London (Ontario, people, in Canada!) do check out and support this valuable community-based organization.
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