Columnist Carrie Dennett suggests some local and online options for acquiring new cooking skills, and some cookbooks, too.
So you’ve decided you want to cook more this year in order to eat more healthfully, save money, or simply to explore your culinary creativity.
If you are already proficient in the kitchen, then cooking more is merely a matter of planning, shopping and executing. But what if you’re lacking in kitchen skills — and confidence?
Cooking was traditionally taught at home, but the rise of processed convenience foods, coupled with more single-parent or two-income households, led to a decades-long decline in home cooking.
Today, the millennials are returning to the kitchen, and their renewed interest is opening new avenues for acquiring or advancing your cooking skills. You can find quality cooking instruction in both local and online classrooms, so you don’t even have to leave your home — unless you want to. Here’s a selection of the best:
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• Rouxbe Cooking School (rouxbe.com) offers online programs for home and professional cooks as well as a plant-based CulinaryRx program. Several videos are available for viewing for free, and you can sign up for a free 7-day trial.
• Cook Smarts (cooksmarts.com) offers a variety of free online cooking guides, videos and infographics, as well as the paid six-week Nourish online course.
• PCC Cooks (pcccooks.com) offers a robust roster of both hands-on and demo classes each quarter at most of its stores. Help shape the next generation of home cooks by enrolling your child (or grandchild) in one of the Kids Cook classes.
• The Pantry (thepantryseattle.com) puts out a schedule of enticing classes each season, focusing on cooking and food-preservation techniques as well as explorations of ethnic cuisines.
• Diane’s Market Kitchen (dianesmarketkitchen.com) makes cooking with fresh, whole foods easier than ever, both from the class topics as well as the Post Alley location — right in the heart of Pike Place Market. Want to learn how to cook to accommodate specific dietary needs? Inquire about private classes.
• Hot Stove Society (hotstovesociety.com) is the educational offshoot of Tom Douglas Restaurants, with a schedule that includes technique-oriented classes as well as the occasional class focused on healthful cooking.
Not ready to invest in classes? There are a number of books that go beyond recipes to help you learn actual technique through photos and detailed explanations. Here are three I’ve enjoyed:
• “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School.” This book includes detailed lessons on all the essential cooking techniques, along with sections on kitchen equipment, knives and seasonings. A new cook could really grow with this book, and a more experienced cook could pick up some new tricks, too.
• “How to Cook Everything: The Basics.” Mark Bittman’s resource for beginner cooks even tells you how to boil water. The book starts with a little treatise on “Why Cook?” then segues into how to stock your kitchen. Then he moves into basic food prep skills, from rinsing produce and holding a knife to all the major cooking methods.
• “The Food Lab.” If you have the heart of a science geek, then J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s weighty tome may be the book for you. This book is packed with the fruits of Lopez-Alt’s methodical kitchen experiments, and his recipes will make your mouth water.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking!