Taking a Cooking Class in the HL Learning Center
I’ve been working for Healthy Living for a few months now, and every month, one of my job duties includes adding all the Learning Center class descriptions to our website. Let’s just say I never start that project with a hungry stomach! From Kid’s in the Kitchen classes to Girl’s Night Out to Health Lectures to general Cooking Classes, they all sound incredibly tasty and all quite a bit different. There’s something for everyone, every month.
I’ve been a bit hesitant to take a class… just nervous really. I mean, I’m a pro at cooking scrambled eggs and I must say I make a mean grilled cheese but other than adding condiments here and there, my skills in the kitchen are weak. My smoothie skills even got put to shame after trying the ones our barristas make here at our juice/coffee bar! To make matters worse, I thought everyone would be watching ME cut my carrots the wrong way, or burn the oil in my pan before I even put anything of substance in it. And cutting an onion without crying my eyes out, forget it.
And then it happened, a Chinese Take-Out class! It’s almost as though Laura, our Learning Center Coordinator read my mind. I finally pulled the trigger and signed up for the “Chinese Take-Out” Cooking Class. How could I go wrong there? You can’t burn Vegetable Fried Rice, right? Plus, homemade Chinese food HAS to taste better than take-out, no matter what! So after I signed up, I grabbed a buddy who wasn’t scared enough to be my partner (she stationed us closest to the fire extinguisher) and we walked in for the 5:30 pm class last Tuesday. Boy, all my worrying was useless and I found that out the second I walked into the Learning Center and saw the beautiful set up and friendly faces that stood around me.
All the ingredients we would be using during the class were perfectly displayed under our table with an eye catching set up on top that included all the housewares we would need for the class, a white apron and recipes for the night.
I was hooked already and excited to learn from Laura, cook delicious food and laugh with all the friendly company in the room.
We started out by gathering around the range to watch Laura whip together the most delicious Crab Rangoon filling I’ve ever tried.
She made sure we all felt comfortable prepping the ingredients, mixing them together properly and of course, folding with wonton wrappers.
It was nice to see the demo before attempting to prepare myself and I was especially grateful that I didn’t have to watch and prepare at the same time… that would have made for a mess. After we all went back to our stations to stuff and wrap, Laura showed us how to use the deep fryer to bring our rangoons to perfection.
We took turns frying after Laura demo’d how to prep for the next dish, Vegetable Fried Rice. It was nice to take turns frying and still having prep to do so that no one was left without anything to do. Did you know it’s okay if your rice sticks to the bottom of the pan?! Well, it is! Once you add your sauce to the sizzling rice and veggies, the sticking becomes less and the smell gets even more fabulous. My favorite part was adding the beaten eggs into the “well” of rice to scrambled and then mix in. Delicious!
Mushu Vegetables was next on the menu, again Laura brought us all up to the front (and let us enjoy our fried rice at the same time) to show us how to prepare the many vegetables properly. Oh no, time for the dreaded onion cut. Feeling comfortable enough with the class to reveal my fear of the onion cut, Laura took a few extra minutes to demo for me (and everyone!) the proper way to not only slice, but to dice an onion! Sounds basic but I know I wasn’t the only one in there learning a new skill that would last me the rest of my life!
Back to our stations to sauté. It’s really nice being able to work with someone else and bounce any questions, ideas off each other as the cooking takes place. I was glad to be working with a friend but there were a few individuals in there who had signed up for the class solo and left with a new friend. It was fun to listen to everyone’s conversations as they were either getting to know each other or have a little friendly argument over whether they should add more or less cilantro. Laura and her assistant Pam were also very helpful as both of them walked around constantly answering any questions and giving different tips and tricks on how to perfect our dishes. Our Mushu Vegetables came out to perfection and for someone who was never a huge fan of mushrooms, I’m sold!
Last but certainly not least we went up to watch Laura demo a delicious sauce for our final item, Crispy Golden Sesame Chicken! After the sauce she showed us how to coat the chicken pieces and use the deep fryer to fry to perfection.
I am SO glad I took this cooking class and I can easily say it won’t be my last one. I think these classes are good for those who don’t know how to hold a knife, those who are just looking to expand their at home menu’s or even just someone looking for something fun to do during the week after they get out of work. They are not intimidating at all and if anything, you’ll leave with new friends and certainly a full stomach! Laura, our Learning Center Coordinator, is full of knowledge, excitement and overall skills in the kitchen and is a joy to learn from.