Back to School… In the Kitchen

— By Camille DePutter

As kids head to school to start a new year of learning, there’s no reason we grown-ups can’t join them – and make the kitchen our classroom. 

Have you ever held back on making a recipe because it sounded a wee bit too ambitious? Or have you held back from trying a new  ingredient because you just weren’t sure what to do with it? Conversely, maybe you have a few special talents up your sleeve that could benefit others. They might even come so naturally to you that you don’t think much of it, but I bet some friends or family members would love to know how you make your killer marinara sauce or perfect your pie crust. 

This September, I’m inviting you to take on the challenge of learning something new, or helping others learn by taking on the role of teacher. Let’s all expand our repertoire just a little bit and have some fun while we’re at it. 

Last year I took a series of preserving classes, taught by one of our fabulous market vendors, Christine Manning of Manning Canning . That helped me build my knowledge and confidence with canning. It’s taken me almost a full year to put the knowledge back into practices but I kicked off September by getting out my preserving gear and making a batch of peaches in honey syrup, with a couple good friends by my side. Because my friends are less familiar with canning I took the role of teacher. Not super experienced myself, it helped test my knowledge. Sometimes you learn more as a teacher than a student!

So there were, getting super sticky, stealing some of the fresh peaches that didn’t make it into the mason jars, and wondering exactly how long we could hold ourselves back from opening the results of our efforts. (Oh, and PS – the Ontario peaches this year, people? OMG. So good, right?)

I guess what surprised me about the whole thing was how easy it felt. I think we often seek comfort in the kitchen, and that means doing things we know will work; even if we’re experimental, we tend to gravitate to our own comfort zone. But sometimes doing something new just for the fun of it, even playing the role of teacher, takes the intimidation of out of the thing you think you “can’t” do. It’s fun – even freeing. 

Appropriately enough, one of my canning buddies gave me an awesome book for my birthday – “Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It: And other Kitchen Projects” – it’s full of stuff to keep me curious in the kitchen. For one thing it contains a recipe for homemade pork rinds. Not sure that fits my healthier eating agenda, but very confident my husband would do backflips for those.

What do YOU want to learn, or try, or teach this month? Tell us on Facebook (Withrow Park Farmer’s Market) or Twitter (@WithrowMarket)! 

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