Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cooking Classes

 If I'm not as regular with blogging over the course of the next week, please be patient. I promise I'll be back, but right now I'm not feeling at all well.

I do want to touch base quickly and tell you about an exciting new adventure I'm preparing for. I'm going to teach cooking classes this fall through the recreation center. Not a typical thing you think of when the word recreation center comes to mind. Swimming, racket ball, basket ball, or weight lifting, yes, but not cooking. It just happened that I wanted to earn a little extra money and I felt promted by the Lord to ask the director, (a gal I've known for years) if she'd be interested in helping me coordinate such a thing.     

 She, unbeknownst to me, had been thinking of offering cooking courses through the recreation center and was trying to come up with a teacher. I guess our recreation facility will be torn down next spring and she's looking for things to offer that don't involve a swimming pool, racket ball courts etc. which won't exist. Who would of thunk we would be on the same train of thought? 

I don't know about you but I always give a big sigh of, "WHEW, got that one right." when I've listened to the still small voice and have done as the Lord directs. Unfortuneately, I'm not always a good listener.  
The director and I decided that though the recreation building will be there this fall, we'd like to start the courses to get the ball rolling. Something  new always takes a while to build momentum.

After our brief conversation at the local hardware store, where we happened to run into each other, I typed up a list of classes I thought I'd like to start with along with a short outline of what the classes would entail. Between us we narrowed the list down and came up with a five month plan. 

Just how much to charge we weren't sure as I'm not about to make everything and then figure the cost of supplies as I'd be in the hole financially before I'd begun since each class offered cooks something different and I don't have the time to cook up a storm with the garden producing.

I did think about not only do I want to cover my cost and make a little money but I had to try and guess what people in our area would be willing to pay. People around here aren't willing to pay much for educational classes.

I chose to go through the recreation center because they have insurance and we could do the courses through the town hall which they already have a deal with. The town hall has a big kitchen and lots of counters space making it the best spot in town.

And though I've put in a number of hours already, I've only just begun for I have to outline my classes in detail, make signs to put up on all the bulletin boards around town advertising, contact the local paper to ask if they'll run an article, do up a notebook with photos of the foods that will include a class outline to leave at the recreation center so they can use it to promote the classes. Then there are my lists of supplies to buy, list of cooking utinsels to bring to class, recipes to copy, and research and organization of tips I want to be sure and cover.

My idea is to create a science based cooking classes somewhat like Alton Brown's Good Eats program  -- only in my own style. My goal with the students is to help them understand cooking so they can branch off of recipes in magazines and books. Use what's available in their cupboard and in our very small grocery store.

I want them to understand why you do what in a recipe and what will be the results. For instance many foods have similiar ingredients -- think muffins, bread, and buiscuits for instance- but their texture is very different from each other. The main factor is the develop of the gluten or not developing it that lends to different textures. Plus, I want to cover choice of ingredients, why do you add baking soda versus baking powder and a conzillion other things like substituting one ingredient for another. I'm always substituting according to what's in the cubboard and in the days to come I think more and more homes are going to feel a financial crunch.

The students after taking a few classes should be comfortable in adventuring out a bit on their own, tweaking recipes and tailoring them to their own tastes. I want to do much, much, more than just giving my student good recipes to follow. I want them to understand what to do and why.

Since I've taught lots and lots of workshops over the years, I'm not at all nervous about the teaching part but this formal setting is a bit different than I've done before. It will be an adventure.

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