Since so many in the community have asked about it, and as LDN
food editor and co-instructor of the class, I thought I'd share a
follow-up on the details of the cooking classes.
After many planning sessions and then grocery shopping together,
Roy and I welcomed our students into the kitchen at the Rec Center
on a Monday night, March 26. The class was to begin at 6:06, and we
started exactly at 6:06.
Week 1: Pork, a few complementary veggies and dessert
Nothing like jumping right into something none of the new
students had done before, which was cut up a whole boneless pork
loin. With the loin on the cutting board, I started by showing the
participants how to cut pork chops off the end. The chops
traditionally have been called "America's cut."
Next, I demonstrated how to cut butterfly pork chops that could
be made into stuffed pork chops. A student prepared a boxed stuffing
mix; then we stuffed a few chops and put the pan in the oven for our
Next to be cut off the loin was a pork roast, which was set aside
to freeze for a later meal.
And last of all, we used the end piece that Roy cut in chunks for
a recipe called "Roarin' Good Pork." This recipe was prepared as the
students stood over the stove watching. Then of course, we each
enjoyed tasting it. Roarin' Good Pork turned out to be a class
To go with our meal the first night, we prepared a side dish of
roasted veggies. The oven-roasted mix of carrots, broccoli and sweet
potatoes drizzled with olive oil made a perfect complement to pork.
It became a theme each week to make sure we finished our meal
with a "Deb dessert."
What goes better than pork and apple? So, the first week a fresh
apple crisp was prepared and enjoyed.
Each class was sprinkled with basic information on products, how
to read a recipe and measure ingredients, safety, cleanliness, and
always included special tips.
The first homework assignment was to actually use one of the
ideas or recipes at home in the coming week.
And when we returned the following Monday night, we started the
class by sharing what the students had prepared and how it turned
Throughout the four weeks there were always lots of questions.
On Week 2: Here chick, chick, chicken
Chicken was on the board for the next session. These dishes were
mostly prepared as casseroles. I started the evening with a recipe
called "Mystery Chicken."
Next Roy took over, making two other dishes. The first was
marinated chicken breast covered in marinara sauce and Parmesan
cheese, then topped with mozzarella cheese at the end. The second
prepared dish was creamy rice and chicken breast: "Wow, was that
In addition, Roy made a special creamy tomato soup topped with
croutons. This tasted wonderful and surprised everyone at how easy
it is to make.
We gave the class lots of ideas on other ways to prepare chicken
and put a nice meal on the table for their family.
To finish off the second class, I prepared a Fudgy Puddin' Cake.
It was easy to make and oh-so-full of chocolate. It was topped with
ice cream and whipped topping, and "another hush came across the
room that night."
It was now halfway through the course, and we realized our
students were absorbing all they were taught.
Week 3: Beef -- it's what's for dinner
We moved on to our next topic -- beef. The afternoon before our
third class, Roy prepared a roast, potatoes, onions and carrots, and
oven-roasted it all. By 6:06 that Monday evening we were ready to
sample and create new dishes out of leftovers from that one meal.
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We first made meat for sandwiches out of shredded beef, juice and
a touch of liquid smoke.
For the next meal, Roy demonstrated how to make gravy from the
juice and add the chunked up meat and veggies back in to be served
over hot biscuits.
The beef demo was not finished. We learned how to use a pressure
cooker to cook a roast quickly for Italian beef sandwiches.
And, the evening wasn't complete until we had dessert. That night
it was a creamy, layered parfait topped with a homemade raspberry
sauce and mixed fruit. Easy, rich and good!
By the end of class, Roy and I were asking the students what they
would like to learn to make the following week.
An appetizer, pasta, Mexican and of course, anything chocolate
were the suggestions.
Week 4: Mexican appetizers, pizza, Alfredo and another dessert
Now in our last week of classes, we were getting to know each
other pretty well, and the questions kept flowing.
To start our last Monday night class, I demonstrated a hot
appetizer made with won ton cups, taco meat, salsa and cheese. To
stay with that theme, I made Mexican pizzas in the oven and also in
the microwave. I believe it surprised the students how easy it was
and also how good it tasted. Plus, we talked about all the
variations of this recipe.
Next, Roy demonstrated his Chicken Alfredo recipe. I have to
admit, it was my favorite dish of all, one that I will make later.
As class was taking place that night, I'm pretty sure the
students couldn't help but notice the chocolate brownie cupcakes on
the counter behind us. Before class I had prepared a recipe from
LDN's Grab Your Fork food column:
Cookie Dough topped Brownie Cupcakes. This is when the hush came
over the room for the last time. Wow, were they interesting and
yummy! I'm guessing that recipe will be talked about for days to
When the class was coming to a close, Roy and I were still
discussing new recipes and ideas with the students. They know they
can contact us at any time with questions, and you can too.
I'm so glad we had this cooking class. We've been asked several
times if we will do this again. While nothing is on the books for
now, we are not ruling anything out. If you are interested or know
of anyone who is interested in taking the next set of classes, you
may contact the Lincoln Park District.
From my kitchen to yours, try a new recipe, "Grab Your Fork" and
dig into the fun of cooking!
Send your questions, suggestions, tips and favorite recipes for
[By DEB ROHRER, LDN food editor]
LDN's Grab Your Fork can be found in the Health & Leisure
Lincoln Park District
1400 Primm Road
Lincoln, IL 62656