School's Out

August 29, 2012

The first session of Cooking Matters came to a scheduled end on Wednesday, July 18.  This cooking school was sponsored by Dare to Care and hosted by Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church (Louisville District). It was intended to encourage our members and neighbors to prepare healthier meals using more fresh produce. The program allowed the students to participate without cost and also provided a take-home sack of groceries. It was a fun and informative experience! A highlight was when the chef showed the participants how to cut a whole chicken into parts. We all know that whole chicken is much cheaper per pound than pre-packaged pieces.

The all-volunteer staff consisted of a real chef, the Dare to Care coordinator and a dietician who taught part of the class. It was held in the Fourth Avenue kitchen. This area was just right for our extra large class, 16 students in all. They could get close enough to the chef to see exactly what he was doing. He also allowed time for questions, explained many techniques, such as how the ingredients (flour, sugar, leavening agents, fats, etc.) worked together to make a tasty dish. Chef even explained to us the meaning of some of the terms used in the recipes – blending, beating, grating, measuring, sifting, sautéing, boiling, draining, and others were demonstrated. Students had a chance to ask questions, and they got answers that were easy to understand.

The dietician went over the food tables, the need of having balanced meals (not junk food) and acceptable portion sizes. She introduced the idea of reading the label on the can and comparing the well-known brands with the “store” brand for price, quantity and quality.

The class even offered a field trip: shopping at the Kroger at Second and Breckenridge Streets. The students agreed that most of their grocery shopping was done there. They were introduced to the shelf signs and the price for each serving that a container provided. Sometimes buying a pound sack of something is cheaper than buying it in larger sizes. Also the amount of salt and sugar is on the labels, and anyone on a low salt or sugar diet can read before buying and come home with the best selection. Participants also got to do some real shopping on their own with a gift card.

Last but certainly not least, the participants were provided with a Dare-to-Care cookbook with recipes that are easy and practical for future use. Students were supplied with most of the ingredients to reproduce the featured recipe at home. This made their time worthwhile and helped their food budget.

Fourth Avenue’s Open Door ministry is working with the Dare-to-Care folks to repeat the “Cooking Matters” school at a future date for all who are interested. The requirements are to have a modest income and complete the entire course.