So, what are you making for dinner tonight? Are you chopping and dicing? Braising some short ribs or making a fresh stock? No? Not tonight? Right… I understand. It’s another busy night on the home front. Sports, homework, tired kids, laundry, deadlines… A quick pasta and sauce is on the menu. Maybe with some baked chicken breast on top for some extra protein. That works too. Nothing fancy, just something quick and easy to get on the table, something that you know your kids will eat fast, without complaint, and get out the door to whatever practise it is they have tonight. I understand all too well.
Sigh…… it’s just SO. BLOODY. BORING. Isn’t it?
Whether you are a foodie or not, cooking for a family can be thankless, sometimes rushed and often times unpleasant. If you love to cook, or USED TO love to cook, I bet that making grilled cheese, plain chicken, or pasta with butter and parmesan is boring you to tears.
Cooking for a family can suck the life out of you. It’s like a photographer taking passport pictures all day. It pays the bills, but certainly does nothing for her creative outlet.
There has to be a way to make cooking FUN again.
A few years ago I joined a book club. I loved the idea of having to read one book per month, and having one night dedicated to wine, appetizers and grown up talk. No kids allowed. The problem was that I am not a passionate reader. I hate reading books that I’m forced to (how did I ever make it through University??), and I especially hate reading on a strict timeline. After three months of binge reading the day of book club I realized that this club just wasn’t for me. I quit.
But I missed it.
I loved the idea of book club. I found myself wondering, how could I keep the concept of book club in my life without the reading part?
And then one pasta-and-sauce-dinner-night, a light bulb went off. Book clubs work great for those who love to read. What if I combined my love of food and cooking with the structure of a book club? What was stopping me from creating my own type of club?
“If you want it in your life, MAKE IT HAPPEN.”
That day, I sat down and brainstormed who in my life loves to talk about food as much as, or almost as much as I do? I wondered – would they be at all interested in this kind of club? Would they actually make the time to do this? I sent out the email and was met with a solid “YEEEEEESSSS!”
Within a few hours our Cooking Club was formed.
The women in my group all came from different backgrounds – set design, teaching, nutrition and tourism. We were diverse, but we had three things in common: busy lives, growing families and a profound appreciation of a really great dish.
Our first meeting was over lunch at a local eatery. We dreamed and planned and laid out the ground rules for how this thing would work. The rules were simple – bring to the table meals that you were excited to make, and always bring a nice bottle of wine. The only things to avoid? Watermelon and Melba Toast.
We decided that our first round of cooking club would involve the host making the entire meal – whatever they longed to make, likely something their family would poo poo but their fellow foodies would appreciate. We set our first date and off we went.
Cooking Club Ground Rules:
- Do not clean the house. It will be considered rude and offensive.
- You should experiment. Colossal failures won’t be made fun of (well, maybe just a little bit but all in good fun!).
- Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone and take a chance on something new. We have all agreed to be guinea pigs. Pizza Delivery is just a phone call away if needed.
- No Melba Toast or Watermelon
Now, about twice a year, we decide on a theme for each month and assign a location. Once a theme has been agreed upon, we pour through our cookbooks, family recipes, magazines, food websites and blogs. We all take turns hosting, however have found the evenings to be more enjoyable when we all contribute to the meal. The host quarterbacks who brings what, and we all show up on the agreed upon date and time with a bottle of “nice” wine in hand.
Since we started, hundreds of recipes have been shared between us, and many evenings have been spent enjoying our meals and company around the table. There have been many laughable failures (this is a mushroom what??) as well as some truly amazing dishes enjoyed like this Tom Ka Gai Soup, or Burrata with Heirloom Tomatoes and Peaches, or this homemade French Baguette or Chicken Tortilla Soup made from scratch. Cooking Club has helped reinvigorate our passion for cooking, and has helped us separate the concept of cooking for a family from cooking as a nurtured hobby. It has helped bring back the creativity and joy in our kitchens, and has created a bond between a group of people who share a common love.
My week-nights still include a lot of pasta and sauce and chicken breasts haphazardly thrown on the side, but it no longer leaves me wanting to lie down on the road in defeat – I know that in just a few weeks I’ll be with my crew, poaching and peeling and plating and sipping and reveling in the sweet pleasure of cooking as art in action. Thankfully with very little reading involved….
If you are interested in more information about how to start your own cooking club, email me at claudine <AT> intothedish <DOT> com or message me on Facebook and I will get you started.
Do you want to be part of an online cooking club? Follow and like my page on Facebook and send me a direct message. Let’s get your enthusiasm back in the kitchen!