Friday, September 27, 2013

back to (cooking) school...

Some readers might remember this from last year, but I volunteer to teach a cooking class to the parents of local middle-schoolers. It’s absurdly popular, despite the fact that it’s held in a middle school science lab and thus has no stove, oven, or kitchen equipment of any kind. Yesterday was my first class of the season, and I came up with a few fall-ish cupcakes. I baked the cakes at home, and then brought ingredients to make fillings, frostings, and decorations in the class.

I knew I was in for a debacle when I saw the map to my classroom. I was lugging three shopping bags of food and a kitchen-aid mixer. If you have ever carried a kitchen-aid, you know that they weigh as much as a small car, so this was no small feat.

I had to wind around, like, seven hallways to get to my destination. At this point, I’m sweating like a pig and my ‘casual chef chic’ look is totally ruined in favor of a ‘runny mascara and backsweat’ ensemble. I finally reach my assigned hall and walk halfway to my classroom (naturally the last one) when I start to notice posters on everydoorway and wall:



WE HATE PEANUTS AND YOU! (Ok, that one didn’t really exist. But these signs were quite stern)


I froze, jaw agape. My shopping bags were literally brimming with peanut items – a 64 oz jar of peanut butter,actual peanuts, reese’s cups, you name it. I’m pretty sure that my sweat was contaminated with peanuts based on the number of peanut butter cups I’d eaten earlier that day. So I picked up all of my crap, wound myself all the way back to the front, and asked for a new room so I wouldn’t inadvertently send anyone to the hospital. The staff very kindly obliged and put me three doors away from my original class. All. The. Way. Back. Where. I. Started. The kitchen-aid mixer has gained 15 pounds by this point.

Between my huffing and puffing and bright red face, I look like a middle aged drunken Irish man. Despite the 900 pounds of supplies I brought, I managed to forget any sort of cutting board or clean surface to work on. Naturally, the solution was to triple-wrap all of the desks in plastic wrap. I mean, I don’t know how much time you’ve spent around kids lately, but classrooms are disgusting! I put my hand on a desk for two seconds and it was immediately black and sticky.

Anyway, the class eventually files in and I start my demo of buttercream frosting. The theme of the class was making one kind of cake and using different flavors/accoutrement to make different kinds of cupcakes. The two we made were:

• Caramel Apple Cupcakes (vanilla cupcakes filled with cinnamon apples, with salted caramel frosting and a caramel drizzle)

• Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes (vanilla cupcakes filled with peanut butter, with chocolate frosting, a chocolate drizzle, and chopped up peanuts and peanut butter cups on top) Again… SO MANY PEANUTS.

These cupcakes were made by a star pupil!

I was giving frosting tips and tricks like a boss and recommending the cheapest yet most effective vegetable peeler (who am I?), when one woman timidly raised her hand and asked, “Umm… but isn’t this supposed to be a healthy cooking class? That’s what they advertised in the newsletter”


I guess I didn’t get that memo. (Side note: why on earth would you hire ME to teach your healthy cooking class? I have to buy butter in bulk every other week.) Luckily, nobody complained about the cupcakes, because cupcakes are delicious… but basically the whole thing was kind of a circus. Halfway through class an elderly former track star came in to advertise some youth track and field program. Sure, sir, help yourself to a peanut filled cupcake.

So that’s how I’ve ended up sitting here, redrafting my culinary curriculum by googling “how do you sneak vegetables into kids food without them noticing?” and eventually just “sneaky vegetables”. I’m open to suggestions.

In the meantime, I’m going to eat myself a healthy cupcake.



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