Cooking Club

Today we have a guest post from Lisa AF Barefield and she’ll be talking about her cooking club

In working to create a series of programming under the umbrella Adulting 101 I started a basic cooking program. Our library meeting room does have a kitchen, but not one patrons have access to, so recipe options were limited. However, the point of the program was to introduce basic (dorm room style) cooking skills.

For the first meeting I picked quesadillas because it gave the teens options (and partially because I had access to an electric quesadilla maker that I could have the group use to cook their final products); they could make themselves a plain cheese one, or they could add various vegetables and/or chicken (cold, but pre-cooked, so there was no fear of food poisoning from undercooked meat), I even had a recipe for guacamole ready for those who were really ambitious. This first meeting had a respectable turn out, I don’t think it broke into double digits, but it was enough that I scheduled another one.

For the second round of cooking club I picked personal pizzas, with the same thought as the quesadillas, first time “chefs” could make the basic cheese version and those who were more adventurous could add toppings.

For each of the cooking clubs I demonstrated the basic recipe, walked them through cutting the vegetables (and went over basic safety guidelines) and then let the group go to work on their own creations; I was available to help and then as they were finishing up I manned the quesadilla maker and the microwave to finish off the “cooking” process.

By and large the groups went for the basic recipes. For many this was their first foray into cooking and they weren’t comfortable dicing peppers or hacking into an avocado. However, each time I had a few participants who just went for it (in the case of the avocado they ended up needing a bit of direction) and made multiple variations to try.

Things I learned: I assumed the teens coming to cooking club would have some cooking experience, overall, not so much. A few were decently experienced, however most were curious, but had never so much as chopped a vegetable. The teens were mostly novices, so simple was better. That being said, since most of them went with making a basic cheese quesadilla or pizza they were finished pretty quickly, and I either need to spend more time teaching a specific cooking technique or have another cooking activity planned (like a quick dessert, because who doesn’t like dessert?).

Things to consider: Since we don’t have a full kitchen available anything that needed warming or melting needed to be done in the (one) microwave, so nothing could take too long or they would be a back up. Everything I used could be eaten as is (not necessarily in terms of taste, but in terms of safety.

I will definitely try this program again and based on teens’ suggestions (of dips and desserts) I might plan an appetizers and desserts themed one this summer.

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