Friday, November 13, 2009

Sidetracked to Cooking Class



I know how to cook. I learned from my mother who was a very respectable basic cook firmly rooted in the dishes she knew her family would eat and who every once in a while dared to inject something new. She taught me what a pinch was, and taste before you season, how to read a recipe book, and substitutions.

College taught me books. I have always maintained school is not about memorization (teach for the test) but on learning how to continue to learn; ergo books. So graduating from my mother's kitchen I sought out cookbooks she didn't own; had no need to own. And I helped my friends in the kitchen when invited for dinner. Then there was eating out and guessing the ingredients and coming home and trying to duplicate that recipe. At a time between "serious jobs" I even worked as an apprentice chef in a small French/Italian restaurant with a great repetition. I was hired on the basis of my French Onion Soup. I make a devine French Onion Soup.

But I don't cook winter squash. Mother didn't cook squash period. Dad didn't like it. Drawn to Italian food I learned to deal with zucchini. And became a master of it when it was the only plant in my garden my goats didn't eat. But zucchini is a summer (thin skinned squash). Winter squash have these think skins and require super sharp knives and muscle. And cookbooks I hadn't bought. So when my friend, Jessica, suggested a class in cooking winter squash at the Taos School of Cooking I jumped at the chance. I did a cooking class on Cajun food in New Orleans once. Tons of fun. If you have never done a cooking class do.

Not only do I now know what to do with a Turban Squash I know how to do it. And most important I know I love it because we got to eat what we cooked. I am still stuffed. I was feeling bad about having cut out on my so new diet when I went to Google an image for this blog. I found it on a fitness site. Not only is winter squash good and economical it is also healthy!

Best part of cooking class is I feel energized. I love to cook but I get into ruts and this definitely knocked me out of that. I think I am putting it on my list of todos as a periodic adventure into the culinary arts.

2 comments:

  1. We have lots of cooking books, which we read and browse over, but hardly use. I believe I've learnt a lot by osmosis! However, I have two huge recipe books from my mother and they contain a wealth of recipes. Not the ones she can cook with her eyes closed, but ones she collected over the years (generally by asking friends for recipes of things she had tasted and liked). There are little stars on the ones that are tried and tested and work with sometimes an occasional "x" meaning this didn't work or wasn't nice (not too many of those).

    I love improvising in the kitchen (when I am in the mood) and I think that's where all the reading of cookbooks helps. Sometimes of course one has to refer to a recipe, especially with something complex and where the ingredients need careful measuring.

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  2. Cakes and most bake goods expecially at my altitude definitely require following directions.

    But yesterday, inspired by the class, I got an acorn squash and devised my own vegetable soup based on what else I had in the kitchen. It is scrumptious and great with the cold weather we are having here.

    The nice thing about the cooking class was all the tips on how to do things - like cutting up a winter squash without cutting yourself to bits. And I have tried to make sense of Risotto and have not exactly gotten it until I watched the making of the squash and artichoke risotto at the school.

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