Cooking class: the fun and the chaos

As I hinted in Monday’s post, the cooking class itself was a whirlwind. To this little novice, this came as a complete surprise: I went into it thinking our 6 hours of work earlier in the day would result in a relaxing, peaceful experience once the burners got cranked up. I imagined I would have ample time to take tons of pictures, interact with the ladies one-on-one, and somehow have dinner on the table within a 2 hour span. “Oh, I should be home around 10 pm sweetie–I can’t imagine it would be later than that,” I confidently told my husband on the phone. Little did I know.

Things started out calmly enough, with at least half an hour of hanging out, snacking, and meeting each other. I was instantly drawn to baby Desmond.

Hello, chubby cheeks!

Do you want to learn how to make a simple olive tapenade?

No? You just want to have some tummy time on a blankie? Well, okay, but your future wife would really appreciate it if you knew how to roast a chicken. I’m just sayin’.

We started out with simple knife skills. Cassia is a great speaker and leader, and she walked everyone through the knuckle technique, of which I was woefully ignorant.

Then, each lady assembled a personal Fruit Pizza.

They went all out and made the most beautiful arrangements with the fruit!

We put the pizzas in the fridge to chill, and then it was time to get down and dirty with some chickens. I’ll be going over the process of butterflying a chicken tomorrow, fear not!

(Thanks for the picture, Carrie!)

Cassia walked everyone through the olive tapenade–here she is extolling the virtues of the anchovy paste. I think at this point I chimed in “it looks like poop” before realizing that may not be the most appropriate comment to make. Ah, the wisdom of hindsight!

Note to self: never say ‘poop’ again when teaching a cooking class.

Note to others: please learn from my mistakes.

I walked everyone through the quick and simple weeknight chicken recipe. “Take some lemons,” I urged.

Yes, in every picture I sport a pretty ridiculous expression. I entertained myself by making up captions for each one.

“Seriously? You want me to do something with this chicken? You’re kidding . . . right?”

“Okay! This is grosser than I remembered. Who else wants to take a turn?”

“Hey! You over there! Just cram it in the boot!”

“Duuuude . . . I think my index finger is longer than my ring finger! Whoa. And is anyone else seeing swirls of color when the music plays?”

“I think, like, I’ll go now, like, because I like totally need to get manicure after this chicken juice practically ruined my cuticles!”

“Just milk the goat gently, massaging back and forth with your fingers like this. Everyone together . . . let’s practice the air massage. Okay. We’ll bring in Gilbertha the Goat in a second, and when we can get our hands on the actual udder it will all start to make sense.”

Thanks for grabbing my camera and snapping all those pictures Traci–I was blissfully unaware (really) until I emptied my memory card onto the Mac and saw the evidence of what’s called ‘Funny Face Syndrome.’ I’ve got it bad, and I ain’t ashamed of it.

At least this picture (from Carrie) makes me look like I’m in a Pantene hair commercial. Though if I was, I probably wouldn’t have one hand resting lightly on a naked chicken.

The ladies were the highlight of the class for me: so lovely! There were familiar faces . . .

(Hi Laura and Emily!)

. . . and new faces–Sarah brought her awesome sister Erika and together they attacked the chickens and stuffed them to high heaven. So-Young is helping out, too.

My friend Beth brough her friend So-Young, who fearlessly chopped and sauteed and stuffed. I figured she was an experienced cook helping out a poor hapless instructor who was desperately in over her head.

Then it came out that this was her first time cooking. Wow.

Hi Madeline! I love your scarf.

We soon reached a point at which 3 chickens were roasting in the oven (with 3 already done and ready to serve), 2 skillets of brussel sprouts were sizzling on the stove, and 2 large pots of polenta were being vigorously stirred. Between the heat and the heat and the space constraints and the heat, I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Then two angels came to our aid.

Carrie (in the awesome turquoise dress and the earrings that I NEED) and Jamie stepped up to the plate. They completely saved the day by jumping in and doing dishes when the level of chaos was just about to crest into a wave of destruction.

See? By then my mental balance was in a precarious state.

“Haha, is this a, hahaha, brussel, um, sprout? Get it, hahaha?”

Jamie and Carrie kept things running smoothly by making sure dirty things weren’t piling up and obstructing the use of the island or counters or stove.

By the time the ladies sat down for the first course, the Roasted Red Pepper Soup, I was in a sweaty daze. And it was late–9:30, if I remember correctly. If you figure in half an hour of mingling before we started, that’s two and a half hours of cooking. Yowza.

Don’t get me wrong–it was fun. I’d do it again in a snap. But it was so much more work than I had ever imagined.

Just being honest.

At least I can say without a pinch of a doubt that the food was delicious.

Lesson learned: next time (if there is a next time) I need to hire assistants, or something. Or just demand that Carrie and Jamie come back for more punishment.

We’re done!

After picking 6 chickens, cleaning stoves and counters, storing and distributing leftovers, and doing 1,000 million dishes (thanks again to Jamie), the end had arrived. It was getting close to midnight, and we had completed almost 12 full hours of work. And it was worth every second of it, every drop of sweat, and every goofy face.

Cheers friends, and thanks for following along with me on this journey. The first roasted chicken recipe will be up tomorrow!

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24 Responses to Cooking class: the fun and the chaos

  1. Candace says:

    Great photos! I want to do a cooking class sometime. It looks like so much fun and such yummy food. Loved your captions! They made me laugh this morning. Very creative of you. :)

    Have a great day,

  2. Wendi says:

    Looks like the night was a complete success. And tons of fun.

  3. I like your funny faces, girlfriend! Just shows that you have a lot of personality!

  4. Hysterical captions, and GREAT job! Hosting a cooking class of that magnitude is quite the undertaking. But seriously………what could be better than food AND fellowship?!?!?!

  5. skippymom says:

    Wonderful! Good for you two – looks like a fabulous time was had by all. YAY!

    Is this a new business venture for you or did you do it for fun – either way you guys rocked it.

    [And I can’t wait for the citrus chicken recipe.]

    • Jenna says:

      Nope, it was all for fun as part of our church’s Women’s Ministry series. And the citrus chicken is amazing–can’t wait to share it tomorrow morning!

  6. Sydney says:

    I love my daily dose of laughter you give me! You are a great articulate writer and the photos are terrific, too. :)

  7. Erika says:

    I successfully made the lemon chicken on Monday and it was delicious! Thanks again for putting this together with Cassia and teaching the class, it was fun!

  8. Looks like you had a great time, and that a great time was had by all. Your pics were sweet and the food looks delicious. Blessings to you, Jenna…

  9. Jessica says:

    This looks like it was so much fun! I’ve never even attempted polenta before, sooo scared!

  10. alongtheohio says:

    The yellow dress you had on is ADORABLE! Also, those fruit pizzas looked scrumptious! I think your cooking class looks like a lot of fun :)

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks Jess! Yeah, I think I’m in love with the dress. Because besides being cute, it hides the general waistline area, which means I didn’t have to worry about that whole “thing” for a single second during my continuous munching of ingredients and testing of the foods. =)

  11. Veronica says:

    You always make me laugh! The best part was the captions for the photos of you. “Cram it in the boot!” You kill me! I think you’d be great in a Pantene commercial…even with your hand resting lightly on a chicken.

  12. Julie m. says:

    Ok you had me laughing out loud. I loved the goat milking. This looks like it was quite a fun event! Kudos to you for pulling it off so fabulously! And please tell me that’s your kitchen. I was coveting the island and stove the entire time I read.

    • Jenna says:

      Oh man, I wish it were my kitchen! No, the event was hosted by the fabulous Traci, who designed the kitchen herself. It’s an amazing space, and maybe one day . . .

  13. You know, the more I think about this, the more impressed I am. Cooking is definitely not on my favorites list, and I am super impressed that you cooked for 12 hours straight, organized a bunch of women and then blogged about it all. You rock! :-)

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks Jenny! On that note, I’m always impressed by your home improvement DIY projects, because I could never fathom doing them (I lack the motivation and the skill), so there you go. It’s always fun to see what you come up with. =)

  14. Jess S says:

    It was a very fun class, I’m excited to try those at home, especially the soup and brussell sprouts. By the way, I love all your Desmond pictures. I happen to think he is very photogenic anyway, but you did a great job of capturing some of his many expressions.

  15. Erica says:

    yayyyy!! what a wonderful time and an AWESOME post. they all are, really. when i grow up, i want to write blog posts like you.

  16. Carrie says:

    Glad we could help! Honestly, the meal was way beyond worth the work! I’m also very proud of the fact that I broke a chicken’s spine that night. Yes.

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