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One way to love bread

There is a wonderful gourmet food and wine store in downtown Blue Ridge called Out of the Blue. (http://outofzbleu.com). They’ve hosted cooking classes, but each time they’ve arranged a class, it’s happened on a day when I’ve been in Boston. Today, I checked the store’s website and see they are planning two classes in September on a Sunday morning. I happen to be available for both. They are minimal commitment sorts of classes, (one 4 hour session) just what I’m looking for. It will be fun to go in one morning to spend a few hours with people I’ve just met, who also share a love of cooking. Hopefully, I’ll learn something new.


One class is called “From farm to table” and involves meeting at 8am, driving to a farm and picking the food that we will cook later that morning in the store’s kitchen. Sounds fun. For one thing, I will enjoy beginning my day outdoors. For another, I intend to plant a garden next spring, and this class will serve as inspiration for that future endeavor.


The second class is a bread baking class. I’m told the teacher is very popular, and since I adore making bread, I will enjoy seeing what tips she has to offer. Though I’ve considered enrolling in gourmet cooking classes a few times I don’t have time for an intensive weeklong cooking class, nor do I believe I want to devote that much time to enhancing my cooking right now. Well, maybe, if it was a totally new subject for me, such as outdoor cooking on an open fire or learning how to tuck food under hot coals or something. I’d love to learn about barbequing. I’ve always considered grilling the man’s territory, but honestly, since I am the one in charge of meals in this home, and Mark is too distracted with his building project to take time to grill, I should learn about that method of cooking too. I so love grilled food and, it is good for you.


Other than that, I think the best way to learn to cook in a kitchen is by experimenting at home. I’ve no doubt there are many, many things I could learn from professional cooks, but I like my meandering pace as a cooking aficionado.  I like reading about cooking and pulling new recipes out of my five monthly cooking magazines (yes, I’m guilty of subscribing to more cooking magazines than is needed) and trying something new when the spirit moves me. I don’t claim to be a gourmet cook, because I know enough about cooking to know that such a title only is earned by years of professional study – but I am a good cook . . . Certainly an enthusiastic one.


My mother-in-law claims I am the reason my husband is overweight. He has reached an all time high this year, and since the woman is to blame for everything regarding her family, apparently, this is my fault. I am supposed to stop cooking all together and nag him more, she says. (Ummm…. No. That is not now, nor will it ever be, my role.)  I keep insisting that it isn’t my cooking that is the problem. It is my not cooking that creates the issue. Home cooking is healthy, and I happened to have a thousand tricks on how to cut calories and fat from fantastic meals. The problem is, my husband eats out when he is on the run. And when he is stressed, he reaches for a milkshake. A perfect example of this – when we were in the throws of recital, our closest friends would show up with a peanut butter pie for him, knowing he needed the sugar fix to fulfill his endless duties as stage manager, director and problem diffuser. They brought me a cup of coffee with equal. (We all have our crutch.) Truth is, I could turn my husband back into a GQ model if I could only lock him up for a month with nothing but my cooking to nourish him (and two long walks a day.)


Anyway, my point is, I refuse to allow my cooking to be the whipping boy of the issue. Last night, I was looking through Cooking Light magazine (my favorite) and pulling out recipes that cut fat from delicious dishes. I will slip these into my neat, organized page protectors and into my cooking notebooks. Soon, I will get around to making these main dishes and desserts, and if they are terrific, they find a permanent home in my collection. If not, they hit the trash with the daily newspaper. I am forever trying new recipes, especially if they are healthy.


I’ve gotten off the point. The point is, I’ve just signed up to take a few cooking classes for fun this month. I don’t feel guilty about it. I love to cook. Love to cook for others. Love to watch people eat. Love the look of food and finding ways to serve it that make it look as good as it tastes. Love planning thematic menus. Love the challenge of making something delectable and yet healthy too. Sure wish I could smell food. Can’t have everything.


I will make bread with new friends this month. I’ll sit there at the counter, asking questions, watching the teacher’s hands knead dough, excited to have a taste of our creation when it is complete. And while waiting, I’ll wonder about the ingredients, where they came from – not just from the flour sack, but also the origin . . . on the farm. I’ll consider the route that handful of grain traveled to arrive in this particular store, on this particular day, in this particular batch of dough, and finally, in my particular savory bite. When you think of it that way, taking a class on making bread suddenly has so much more meaning. In fact, it ceases to be about cooking at all –it’s about celebrating what you chose to honor, the independent path, the course of life selected, the journey taken, by something you love.

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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