If you are new here you might want to read Cooking Matters class part 1
Learning to cook takes a dash of curious mixed with a pinch of bravery
Cooking Matters is a program developed by the folks at Share Our Strength and supported by the wonderful people at ConAgra Foods Foundation that helps those in need learn to shop, and prepare healthier meals while staying on a budget. In this economy, this is something we can all learn to do better and the boot camp and classes I sat in on were chock full of useful advice!
As someone who cooks but does not consider herself "a cook", I often fumble my way through a recipe. Occasionally I have a moment of genius (where I am brave enough to risk an entire meal) where I decide to toss in fresh basil and curry and somehow it works.
But usually I stick to my same-old recipes.
Now imagine you are someone who lives below the poverty level and you have barely enough money for food. You might not even have a stove! To say cooking would be a challenge is quite an understatement. Yet this is what many people face every day.
Eating is Important but Cooking Matters
The Cooking Matters program not only covers nutritional information, but each lesson involves a real chef leading a cooking lesson using a recipe that participants will repeat later that week at home! In the classes I attended we learned the proper way to cut (an onion, a carrot, kale, chicken, etc), simmer, and even how to keep cutting boards and the work surface sanitized.
We learned about seasoning with onion and garlic and pasta water instead of adding salt.
We learned that you can't keep the oil heating too long or it will start to smoke...and then the smoke alarms will go off and then the building is evacuated and then...well you can imagine.
Most important was the exercise of working together to prepare a meal.
Cooking together with people, as a family, with fresh ingredients really can make a difference in our lives.
Cooking gives us time to chat and get to know one another. It allows us time to appreciate the food we have, the color, the vitamins, and the techniques used to prepare this life sustaining element, so that we can nourish our bodies. This process, this thing called cooking, also seems to nourish our souls.
Cooking, not just opening a package and reheating, matters.
Disclosure: ConAgra Food Foundation and Share our Strength paid for my trip to Texas and I will receive a stipend for my work helping to tell the story and promote Cooking Matters. As always, all opinions and experiences are my own and this post was neither reviewed nor approved prior to being published.