Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Food For Thought

First, check out this post at Tigers & Strawberries.

Very intriguing post. It is something that has been on my mind for some time. Recently I read a cookbook called Marcella Says... by Marcella Hazan. While I don't much care for the actual recipes for the cookbook, her writing is beautiful. I loved reading her prose, and her stories about childhood and growing up. One particular thing that struck me was when she talked about teaching cooking classes as a young woman. She would teach them in her home to women who didn't know how to cook. This was in a different time, women were expected to cook, so these classes were very beneficial to those who took them. Those housewives NEEDED to learn how to make a perfect roast chicken.

But what about today? What about all those people who grew up on Mac and Cheese out of a box and TV dinners? What about all those people who rely on frozen cardboard pizza as a meal during the week- sometimes two or three times? While some of those people may profess to hate cooking, (and maybe they do) what if they just don't know how? What if something as simple as roasting a chicken is so daunting to them that they limit themselves to store bought rotisserie chicken? What if a simple Pasta Marinara sauce is just beyond comprehension? There has to be a way to fix that! Ever since I read that book by Marcella, I've had this solid thought in my head that I want to teach cooking classes. But what are my qualifications? I dunno. But then I watch a show like The Next Food Network Star, and I just couldn't believe that these cooks did not know how to dice an onion or julienne carrots. That I CAN do, and I don't even want a Food Network show. I also don't know what kind of "rules" and laws are in our state for such an adventure. And it is very difficult and daunting to attempt to look up such laws. Then again, maybe I'm really out there. Maybe people wouldn't be willing to give up a night a week or a Saturday afternoon to learn how to make a classic beef stew.

So here's the premise, and I really, really want feedback on this one. If you are not a registered blogger- that's okay. Leave a comment as anonymous, it's permitted here, but I really want to know what people think about this one. And what you think your friends would think.

I want to combine the concept of the home party and the concept of the prepare a meal franchise. Think Pampered Chef meets Dream Dinners. For a set fee, you would meet at a kitchen (In this case, it would be mine). For that fee you would get all the ingredients necessary to make a meal (Or two or three) and step by step instruction. It would be completely hands on. You would actually make the Chicken Parmesan, but I would provide the ingredients and instruction. You would be required to bring designated dishes that you take your finished product home in- like a lasagna pan for the lasagna. It would be round table format- four or five people gathered at the counter, armed with cutting boards and knives. What you get to take home with you is a finished dish (or two or three) ready to cook or reheat for your family. You also get the recipes used so that you can recreate it yourself- now that you know how. While you are in my kitchen, you would also get an opportunity to taste and sample the finished dish, so that you can adjust your seasonings according to your families tastes.

So would you do this? Or do you know people who would do this? I'm not looking to start something like this next week, and I realize that putting this out there, by the time I get around to doing such a thing, someone else may be doing it, but I would really appreciate the feedback on this one. Most days I am generating 60+ views here, so I know you are reading... :-)


AK said...

I think your idea's brilliant. A neighbor -- one who doesn't cook -- asked just this week if I'd do a class at her church which has a big commercial kitchen, we thought maybe parents/daughters and parents/sons. But I love the idea of hands-on and take-home. Another thing I'm hearing is that "menu planning" is just so much effort. One concept that's hard to get across is the more you cook, the easier it is. Not so much because you know how, but because you only need to make one new thing a night, say, because there's still vegetable casserole in the frig from last night, to reheat and tomorrow'll there'll be the meat from tonight so you make a big salad. And so the cycle continues ...

Mom Waz said...

I think your idea sounds like a winner! What a wonderful way to share your talents with the rest of the world.

It's said, "You never know unless you try." So take that first step and we'll be here to cheer you on.

Barbara said...

It sounds good to me.

I teach cooking classes, too--and at first, I was intimidated, but it gets easier every time.

I really think that the more of us who go out of our way to help out those who don't know how to cook learn how, the better off the world will be.

Besides--teaching is fun--and you learn as much as your students do!

Lizzy said...

That, and you make FABULOUS food! I mean, you got your brother and his wife to eat a THIRD TURKEY DINNER on Thanksgiving. Incredible food. :)

Cate said...

I know a few people who do this now and love it. I do a twist on it myself. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Necessity is the mother of invention. People today didn't grow up at grandma's knee learning how to make apple pie. Most of us were raised by working moms and Swanson frozen dinners. My mom knew how to cook. My grandfather was a chef (once baked a birthday cake for President Roosevelt!) But she took no pride in cooking. She couldn't be bothered to teach me. She died young before my real interest in the kitchen developed. Now I read blogs, watch the Food Network, and dream of taking cooking classes. There are some things I know how to do in the kitchen. But others that even as I read how in cookbooks (I am educated) can't figure pie crust. It doesn't turn out. I need to learn hands-on. I think your idea ties together our need for instruction and socialization in our too fast paced life. Bravo! And sign me up!
Wendy Farmer

Erika said...

Alanna- I think you are right on with the menu planning. I know there are plenty of times where I am daunted by menu planning- and I have the know-how. I've noticed several magazines trying to help out with this, like Rachel Ray and Everyday Food, giving readers a shopping list...I think that is almopst what people are looking for.

Mom Waz- Thanks for the cheering section!

Barbara- I'd like to think teaching cooking classes would be fun...I wouldn't even consider it otherwise.

Lizzie- Lol. You are a poor starving college student. SPAM hash would taste good to you right now.

Cate- I love reading your adventures with the neighbors. It sounds like you are really helping them discover their cooking abilities and the world of good food. That's one of my points of inspiration...

Wendy- I would love to hear more about your Grandfather some time. Sounds like there are some great stories there. You are certainly welcome in my kitchen anytime!