Updated: Apr 18
I arrive somewhat late to the party, at mid-life, only now discovering the delights of cooking from scratch.
It started with the ingredients of time and curiosity, which have led me to discover that it’s not just about the recipes…
My local college Lancashire Adult Learning LAL – Lancashire Adult Learning – Community learning in Lancashire ran an online ‘Introduction to Nutrition and Cookery’ recently with Faye and Bill teaching nutrition and practical skills respectively, which I decided to join.
I have never enjoyed nor previously mastered the culinary arts so my nerves were jangling. I had many questions to which I felt silly for not knowing the answer. For example is it ok to open the oven door when baking and why do you use a wooden spoon? I felt a real sense of vulnerability.
Without blinking an eye, the tutors found where all the students were at and adapted painlessly and accordingly, much to my relief.
While some were skilled enough to cook alongside Bill in his kitchen, I watched everything he did like a hawk, from crushing garlic to dicing carrots – another skill I had yet to acquire. Safety in the kitchen, organisation – we covered the absolute basics.
From there I felt so encouraged that I signed up for two more courses and I’m waiting for a third.
In the meantime I followed up with an in-person class at Recycling Lives in Preston, Lancashire Teaching Cookery Skills | Recycling Lives Charity. Again the enthusiasm and kindness shown in passing on these life skills ensured my return each time on this eight week course.
The classes were beautifully put together with a cosy take-home parcel each session. Meeting new people was part of the package, as were budgeting tips, how to make healthy meals, and having fun!
So, what have I learned over the last year? Not only how to make some great dishes, but also:
1. People love to talk about food. What better way to engage conversation in a silent chip shop than to start a discussion about the best way to scramble an egg. Everyone would seem to have an opinion on that one.
2. How to re-create the lovely quiet creatively-industrious atmosphere I remember from my childhood as I painted or drew whilst my Gran busied herself in the kitchen.
3. How to be organised in the kitchen, about ‘flow’ in the cooking process and mise en place.
4. As one of my friends put it, ‘cooking brings people together’.
5. New skills and knowledge in the kitchen brings confidence and positive results. A world of healthy eating has opened up. This has piqued my interest, and I’m now focussing on making meals based on fresh vegetables.
Food and feeding people is so core to who we are as living beings, and in uncertain times there is great comfort in it as a process, which can be as mindful and nutritious in the preparation as in the eating.
I’m even enjoying the washing up more... but hey, I am new to this.
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