Cooking with the Seasons03.21.11
This past weekend, in honor of a Spring that shyly approaches, J and jumped into the convertible and headed north to spend our Saturday afternoon in the kitchen. After many wrong turns, we eventually reached our destination: a cooking school tucked into a small strip of businesses right off the highway in upstate Bardonia, NY. Two months ago, we purchased a cooking class at Food Evolution. We were prepared to put our Groupon coupon to the test!
We walked into a warm sliver of a space and were welcomed by our teacher Lori and her assistant Rebecca, two young women who greeted us nonchalantly, completely ignoring the fact that we were very, very late. Their sweet dispositions made us feel as comfortable as the modern yet homey kitchen we had set foot in, stocked with shiny appliances, as well as organic herbs, vegetables, bottles of olive oil and cookbooks. Today’s menu included an array of seasonal dishes that included sautéed kale, quinoa with currants and almonds, roasted chicken with apples, pears and figs, and vanilla-scented poached pears for dessert.
This fabulous kitchen houses Food Evolution, a cooking center focused on a whole food approach which was founded last year by Diane Hoch, a nutritional health counselor. She believes that food supports you physically, spiritually and mentally. As it turned out, the dishes we prepared that afternoon were not only nourishing and delicious, but also helped to define some simple kitchen basics: roasting a chicken is easy, separating the kale leaves from its stems reduces its bitter flavor, and preparing quinoa with a 1:2 (grain to liquid) proportion achieves a fluffy and moist consistency.
While J and I spent most of the afternoon watching Lori and Rebecca in action, the conversation also turned to many aspects of their alternative lifestyle, from juicing to the Dirty Dozen, from hot yoga to gluten-free baking. These choices may initially seem extreme (at least they did to me), but to these two women they were a normal part of their daily life. This attention to health and healthful choices was evident in the food they prepared. The dishes, made with organic produce, spices and meat, were delicious, clean and full of flavor. The kale was delicate and toothsome. The chicken was moist and crispy on the outside, the fruits a tasty garnish reminiscent of the holidays. The quinoa was fluffy and moist, sweet and crunchy.
At the end, I’m not sure if it was the food or the company, but we walked out into the late afternoon light feeling happy and relaxed. Creating wholesome dishes can be incredibly satisfying, forcing you to be more creative in the kitchen or as J said, be a good way to “get out of the broccoli-pasta rut”.