I can’t believe I’ve been going here for a year. This is a picture of my Thursday kitchen. It’s where I go every Thursday afternoon to teach cooking classes. The name of my cooking class is Hands in the Kitchen.
I am a volunteer at a not for profit organization called Heart ‘n’ Hand. This is an organization that tries like heck to keep folks from becoming homeless. The organization provides information on housing, jobs, food bank and pantry, and provides a variety of education. It also is a place to gather, to learn, get a little direction, and to be fed. They share the same idea I have: nobody should be hungry. My small part in the grand scheme of things is to teach cooking to anyone in this community who would like to learn. I teach a wide variety of people. Younger and older. Students and retirees. Male and female. Poor and not poor. Novice cookers and experienced cookers. I have a very diverse group.
You would think, having a diverse group would make subject matter difficult. It really doesn’t. The preparation of food is a universal language, much like love. For me, cooking is love. And, I have discovered that I love to teach. It’s my first time teaching. I wasn’t so sure I could do it. I was afraid I would bore my students to death. I have one of those voices that have put babies, husband, and friends to sleep. I’m not kidding. After a year of teaching, it has become easier and I am much more at ease.
So far, we have talked food prep, healthy eating, cleanliness, menu planning, and budgeting. We have made lots of good food. Through all of this, I have gotten to know some very fine people. We have an affection for each other. In fact, at class last Thursday, a couple in my class brought me a potted tulip plant. It was to show their appreciation for everything I do for them. I nearly cried. Those of you who know me, know how much self control it took for me not to shed a tear. I was so very touched by their show of thankfulness.
I cook what my class wants to cook. Like I tell them, this is YOUR class. It is all about the students. I ask for suggestions for the next class. Sometimes, I just surprise them with something. Question and answer time is my most favorite. We have this when we are waitng for something to bake. I not only answer cooking questions, but I get a glimpse of their lives as well. Their food likes and dislikes, their customs, and their level of expertise in the kitchen.
My students have learned cooking is not hard. They have been surprised how easy a pecan pie is. They have learned what to do when the smoke detector goes off, they have laughed at my forgetfulness, and they have seen me mess stuff up and break out laughing as I fix it. When I show them a new technique their faces light up and it only makes them hungry for more. Even after the burnt onions for the French Onion Soup and a student’s cut finger, they keep coming back.