Sustainable Table: Our kitchen-management class this spring

In April we’ll be teaching a kitchen-management course through the Columbia Area Career Center. We’ve long practiced and espoused a form of whole-kitchen management that integrates creative cooking with using seasonal items that are available and on hand, without being overly time-consuming or fussy. A good example is the “Preparing a CSA share in an hour” demonstration we gave last year, which showed how easy it can be to turn an full-share of farm-fresh produce into simple, delicious, and wholesome dishes.

Here’s the catalog description (p. 44) followed by a more detailed outline of our curriculum and goals, drawn from our initial proposal to CACC. Please considering sharing this with anyone you know who might be interested, or even signing up yourself!

Sustainable Table

Tuesdays 4/14 – 5/12, 7:00 – 8:30 pm

Getting the most out of your ingredients and your budget requires flexibility in menu-planning along with creativity and improvisation in the kitchen. Explore ways to source and prepare meals that are simple, delicious and economical. (5 Sessions)

Skills to be gained: Students will learn how to: find and choose fresh ingredients; assess and adapt recipes to match their supplies & needs; use seasonal menus and food preservation to improve their food budget; and explore kitchen techniques and items that can benefit their cooking & time budget.

Presenter biography: We have been honing our cooking skills for over 15 years, first as farmers market shoppers and CSA members, then as professional producers of fresh ingredients at Chert Hollow Farm in northern Boone County. Eric also holds a Masters degree in teaching and has extensive experience with public speaking and education.

Outline of learning activities per session:

  1. Sourcing ingredients: Discussions of seasonality, growing methods, sources of ingredients, what to ask farmers or grocers, ways to identify better or worse ingredients, storage and preservation methods.
  2. Recipe analysis: What makes a good or bad recipe, how to rewrite or adapt a recipe to be easier or faster to follow, how different ingredients contribute to a recipe, how to swap or supplement ingredients.
  3. Master recipes: Step away from specific recipes and discuss the structure of different classes of meals. What defines a soup, a pasta, a stir fry, a sauce? How can we develop a master recipe that can be adapted to whatever ingredients are on hand?
  4. Kitchen management: Ways to use your kitchen more efficiently, including advance preparation, recipe doubling, appropriate shortcuts, spreading preparation over multiple days vs. a scheduled cooking binge.
  5. Budgeting & valuing food: Economics of how food is produced, sold, and purchased, minimizing waste, efficient approaches to sourcing ingredients, analysis of personal and general food budgets, buying in bulk vs. not over-purchasing.

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