Posted by: birdmaddgirl | 14 May 2010

count your fingers

so one of my goals this year is to take two cooking classes. i have a tendency to manifest love through cooking; i really enjoy it and feel excited when i can share a meal with friends. i’m not at all technically skilled, though. i kind of have no idea what i’m doing. but it’s fun! (my ever-increasing love of cooking manifested itself at christmas last year, when i received a book-shaped cutting board and a lighthouse cookbook from two close friends. books + food = joy)

so i am in medias res with my first course at the boston center for adult education, basic knife skills.

the bcae has a brand new, beautiful kitchen space. the instructor, Lars, is funny and effective. although, note to teachers everywhere of everything, telling your students to “relax” does not relax anybody! i mean, sure you have to remind people, but it doesn’t work. let’s at least agree on that, eh? night 1 we learned how to hold the knife (with your fingers!), how to slice, how to chop, and how to cut an onion. Lars is good at giving very useful tricks and tips that seem like common sense once you know them. my favorite: if you’ve chopped herbs, gather them on the knife blade, hold the knife over a bowl, put your finger at the base of the knife and pull the knife towards you while keeping your finger still. everything falls in the bowl. obvious, once you know it, but i’d never think of it myself. Lars gave nice practical information about knife-buying, knife-care, and knife-use. i’m looking forward to night 2, even though i’m sure i won’t relax then either.

my two negative impressions: (1) if i were full on vegetarian rather than pescetarian, i would not have been able to eat any of the food cooked at the end of the class. as it was, i’m not convinced that there wasn’t a meat base added to the clam chowder. there wasn’t really any acknowledgment made that anyone in the room might have dietary restrictions/preferences/allergies. (2) the bcae neither recycles nor composts. they should. they’re going to get a letter from me. even worse, they made us eat off of styrofoam plates! uck! it was really bizarre, because Lars was very conscious of doing things during prep and cooking to make sure your food tastes better. and then he blithely eats out of a styrofoam bowl. really? i can understand that the center would prefer disposable so they don’t have too many dishes to wash after classes get out late at night, but couldn’t they go with paper? or, better yet, corn?

my one major critique of the course itself: the last half hour was all cooking, but not everyone had a task to do. a classroom where half the class is just sitting around is not an engaged class. with a little more thought about how to divide the work evenly, this could have been avoided.

next wednesday: knife night 2! we will be learning about cutting chicken and beef and fruit. it’s possible that i will institute a ‘meat is ok’ pass for cooking classes. i haven’t decided yet. i may not make a decision, actually, and just go with however i feel at the time. (which  is likely to be passing on the meat.)

i’m signing up for two other courses at bcae at the end of the summer: a tapas class (which will involve meat-eating, i’m pretty sure) and a preserves class (yay!). also, cheese 101 is coming up. cheese cave! yes!

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