I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the KTKD program. I hope you have gotten the sense from my blog posts that I am grateful to Dan for his vision and inclusion of me in this experience. I started the course with some cooking knowledge and am leaving with the confidence and creativity to put it to use. I hope that my fellow participants who had less skill going in than me realize that all that it takes to start cooking is finding what you like, learning to read a recipe, and the ability to chop . The rest we learn as we go along.
One of the most surprising things I learned in this course was that following food blogs can be fun! I really thought this would be my least favourite part, however, I have learned that food bloggers don’t just post recipes, they post life experiences too. For example, my food blogger Ethan shared with his readers his personal story of love and loss of his ‘Bubbie’ and her love of food.
Additionally, things I could never dream up on my own are revealed by those who have a talent with the culinary arts. Yelp community manager Wendy shared her molecular gastronomy project which inspired me to plan to create my own ‘caviar’ and I have found many other exciting projects simply by paying more attention to the immense amount of information available by friends and contacts (i.e. on Facebook, Twitter, etc). I might wager that food bloggers use Twitter more than any other group of collective hobbyists.
I went into each class with the goal of learning at least one new thing each time. As a result I have built a rich collection of memories and tools that I hope will impress my dinner guests who have all been jealous of this opportunity and keen to hear about it.
I hope Dan’s program will continue to expand and be successful; University students are smart when it comes to a lot of things, but we are often too complacent when it comes to the necessities of life. All too easily we settle for KD (or something like it) because it uses one pot and is ready in 15 minutes. Dan has showed us that making just a little extra time for proper cooking is easy and rewarding. Thank you
This week we took a look at using local ingredients for every day recipes. We made a roast chicken from Spragg’s Meat Shop, ‘smashed’ potatoes using King’s Orchard purple potatoes and honey apple tarts using apples also from King’s Orchard (grown in Strathmore, AB) and honey from Golden Acres Honey (Three Hills, AB).
Dan’s hope for us was to develop a ‘feel good’ connection with our food by supporting local, sustainable and natural ingredients. My response is that I did feel good supporting farms from around the city since you can almost see your money put to work. You are not paying some bureaucratic chain; you are supporting your neighbours. Additionally, I think food that is almost ‘fresh off the vine’, as it were, just tastes better. It’s like picking carrots from your backyard.
Our special guest this week was Dan’s grandma, Evelyn. I think it is a rare privilege to get to share something like KTKD with your grandma and having her there for us to display our new cooking knowledge too was a real treat! She wasn’t so sure about the purple potatoes or the chili powder in the apple tarts, but she was very proud of Dan! (and rightly so!)
With ‘local’ in mind, this week’s homework was to recreate a meal from a recipe already seen in class this time with local ingredients and then reflect on if being aware of where the ingredients came from helped us give pride in what we had cooked. I think I already knew the answer to that, but was excited to treat it as homework nonetheless.
Unfortunately, I did not get myself together in time to make it to the Farmer’s Market where I could have found the onions, garlic, chicken, butter and cream from farmers near the city so I instead settled on finding ingredients that were at least from Canada. Going to the grocery store and being conscious of the producer made me feel savvy and I noted that the prices were comparable to the imported products.
The alfredo sauce garnered excellent reviews however I am getting a little worried that my family is catching on to my one trick pony (I always choose the pasta sauce recipes!)…but it doesn’t seem like they are complaining
I would like to try this again (once exams are over) but instead make it to the Farmer’s Market as I do believe there is strong merit in being food conscious and supporting local businesses. It’s all a part of Kicking the KD!
The past week’s lesson was a great segue into our week eight class with special guest Pierre Lamielle of Kitchen Scraps fame. Pierre is a worldly gentleman who is quite the story teller; I highly recommend his Kitchen Scraps cookbook, I have read it cover to cover and thoroughly enjoy the illustrations and hilarious stories that accompany each recipe. Pierre regaled us with the history of Roman feasts (accompanying the Roman chicken we made) and he even taught us the most efficient way to make whipped cream!… Additionally, in class we learned how to properly dress a salad (including the proper slicing of celery) and how to ‘pickle’ different toppings (i.e. Craisins, onions, garlic) using a brine solution which added a delightful salty (or sweet, depending on your preferences) taste. Finally we made a “brownie served out of a pot”…yum!
Inspired by our Kitchen Scraps class, Dan’s assignment for us was to recreate one of Pierre’s recipes that has a story along with it. The purpose is to determine if ‘food is more fun when it has a story’.
Keeping this in mind, I chose to make the Bolognese runs thick meat sauce for pasta (whilst watching Top Chef Canada of course!). I was a little perturbed that my favourite pasta sauce stems from its resemblance to the aftermath of a sword fight, but found the history lesson interesting none the less.
Additionally, I made the half-baked pot brownie (from class) using my personally autographed Kitchen Scraps cookbook! Based on my results, is cooking/food more fun when it has a story? Definitely! Though I struggled with an appropriate time to share the story with my dinner guests Perhaps I will choose a more appetizing story next time!
I think the real question will be … can food still be fun without Dan and KTKD? T-minus two classes… why do the fun classes have to pass so quickly? Why can’t my Chemical Process Equations go so fast? Million dollar questions. For now, I’ll stick to Kicking the KD!
A couple of weekends ago we had a privileged behind the scenes look at Home Tasting Room with Chef Rogers, as well as a wine pairing lesson by sommelier Andrew Macleod from Red Water Grille. Sadly I couldn’t stay for the majority of the lesson due to a prior commitment (little girls only turn 1 once!), but while I was there I learned some very interesting things.
For example, that sommelier’s began as a way to ensure the wine of nobility was not poisoned! I am glad the profession has come a long way! Andrew wanted to impart upon us how to describe the different tastes of wine, food that pairs well with wine as well as to take the stigma out of drinking wine and encouraged us to take advantage of a restaurant’s sommelier (no longer just for the high brows!).
Chef Rogers prepared beautiful plates to match the lovely wine and I would highly recommend him and his restaurant (Home Tasting Room) to people looking for an intimate ambiance and the highest quality of local food. The kitchen is in the middle of the restaurant allowing diners to observe the whole creative process! (Below is a picture of one of the courses we had there, a grilled tomato salad with home-made yogurt! Yum!)
After our week seven class, no homework was assigned (which I was secretly happy about since finals are quickly approaching us), but in class we learned how to make an easy and delicious hummus, lentil soup (dahl) and dolmades.
The best thing I learned from this class was that dolmades are not as exotic as I first perceived – they are in fact a lot like cabbage rolls. I find it interesting how ideas (about food in this case) travelled around the world in a time before the Google, Twitter or even the radio existed. From the north to the south of Europe the idea of rice, meat and other choice ingredients wrapped in a leaf was shared and interpreted.
This week we learned how to prepare vegan meals with meat-substitute ingredients such as tofu and tempeh, as well as using things like nutritional yeast and coconut milk. Additionally, we had the privilege of learning how to make gnocchi from scratch from the one and only Chef Geoff Rogers from Home Tasting Room here in Calgary. Chef Rogers was able to answer all our left-field questions ranging from how to butcher cleanly (on vegan night no less!) so that meat can be served ‘blue’, to ‘What is the real difference between gnocchi and perogies?’ You’ll have to ask Chef Rogers for the answer to the first question, but the differences between gnocchi and perogies are the way they are served!
His confidence in the kitchen was admirable and made it very easy to retain the information he was providing us. A big THANK YOU to Chef Rogers for taking the time to come to our KTKD class and to Dan for organizing it!
For our homework, we were assigned the task to replace meat in a recipe with a vegan alternative. I decided to once again prepare ‘Chicken’ Stir Fry by replacing the chicken with tofu. I am unsure if my meal was 100% vegan because of the sauces (oyster [mushroom] sauce and soy sauce), but I tried to keep it meat/dairy-free (Dan: Success! It was definitely vegan!).
For the preparation I opted to cut the tofu into small pieces as my greatest complaint about tofu is its texture. Since tofu doesn’t have a very strong taste I decided to focus on the texture; I hypothesized that a smaller piece would present a reduced texture effect.
I coated the pieces in cornstarch and fried them as Dan instructed in class,but I was curious if the extra cornstarch needed for more individual pieces raised the calorie count significantly and if this would be a ‘con’ to using these smaller (more) pieces. According to the nutrition label there are 30 calories per tablespoon and I used 2 tablespoons, however not all of the corn starch made it’s way into the pan.
I also made the tomato appetizer that Dan provided for us in class to test if we could tell what we were eating was tofu (since it looked like a common cheese, bocconcini). I highly recommend this hor d’oeuvre because it is healthy, easy to prepare and looks like it was made by Chef Rogers himself! Your dinner guests will be very impressed!
In the end, the stir fry wound up being over cooked because it was my first time cooking with noodles. Next time I would put them in earlier, before the vegetables are fully cooked. The small tofu cubes seemed to alleviate the texture issues as hypothesized however I still think I like the taste of chicken better!
Click here to check out Stacey’s recipes for the dishes she cooked up at home!
This week’s homework assignment: What does the biscuit mean to you?
This week we were invited to explore biscuit making after learning from the best, Julie van Rosendaal, in class. Julie helped us learn so much in our short class together and she helped make it possible to salvage the backwards biscuits (liquid goes in last...next time)! Not only that, she was able to answer random baking questions (i.e. What’s the difference between baking soda and powder? Soda makes the dough expand, powder makes the dough rise) and manipulate recipes on the fly (less baking powder still does the trick without the metal-y taste).
So have I prefaced this enough for you to empathize with me when I tell you my biscuits were hardly comparable to the in-class ones? I swear I did everything the same as in class, except not backwards, and except without the random improvements Julie was able to suggest along the way… That being said, they still were yummy and they still took on a biscuit form!
I chose to recreate the blueberry + orange zest biscuit and a standard cheese biscuit. They were not as flaky as I would have liked but warm from the oven they still made a terrific lunch! Next time I’m not even sure what I could do different. Perhaps Julie has just set my expectations too high and I will have to keep practicing them in order to get better. That’s the best thing about these biscuits…they take no time at all to make and bake! So easy in fact that you could feasibly have warm biscuits whenever the mood strikes you.
Another successful week in expanding my ability to impress dinner guests with cooking tricks!
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