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October 12, 2011

Find Your Flavor... in This Fall's Cooking Class

By: Morgan Davis

            Fall cooking class began with a bang on Wednesday, October 5th… the bang being the sound of a knife smashing open fresh cloves of garlic.  Michelle learned that this is a quick method to remove the peel from the garlic.  Sara learned an easy trick for making a buttermilk substitute and Christy learned one of the important reasons for soaking dried beans.  These are just a few of the many new techniques participants of the Fall Cooking Matters class will now be using in their own kitchens. 
            With introductions and the quintessential paperwork out of the way, fifteen minutes into class the kitchen was filled with the aroma of garlic and onion tenderizing in oil over the portable burners.  16 participants, including 4 volunteers and 2 dietetic chefs, were appreciating the scent of diced chicken being added to the translucent garlicky-onion mixture.  With Chef Janell leading the way, we were busy using the knife skills we were just taught to slice and dice green peppers, jalapenos, celery and cilantro.  As the chicken turned a beautiful golden brown, fragrant cumin, earthy oregano and fiery pepper were stirred in.  The chopped veggies were then added to the pot along with some white beans, corn and chicken broth -- low sodium chicken broth of course!  The white bean chicken chili was set aside to simmer so the flavors could marinate as the group moved on to the next task. 
            Just as peanut butter goes with jelly, and food goes with friends, we all know that chili goes with cornbread!  But since this cooking class was all about taking it to the next level, there were no jiffy cornbread mixes to be seen!  I showed participants how to make fresh cornbread from whole wheat flour (more nutritious than white flour!) and a little lemon juice and milk (mixed together this is a great substitute for buttermilk).  To add some extra flavor, we threw in some canned chilies and popped the confetti cornbread into the oven. 
            Some people believe that no meal is complete without dessert.  While the dietitian in me says, “sweets in moderation,” I knew that the perfect ending to this meal would be a sweet one.  Doug and many of the participants had never worked with a Japanese pear.  But this was a night for firsts!  So we all, armed with a spoon in hand, scooped the core from each pear half.  Bridgette and Leona filled the pears with the sweet-smelling cinnamon streusel filling while the rest of us mixed a creamy, dreamy yogurt-honey drizzle to add once our spiced pears were baked!
            While cooking class started with a bang, it ended with sated tummies and knowledge-filled minds.  I was happy to hear that all participants are looking forward to returning next week to learn some more new recipes and tried-and-true cooking techniques.  Stay tuned to hear what new skills are attained in next Wednesday’s class!

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