The smell of warm ginger and soy sauce. The rich scent of spices fills the air. The aroma of a wholesome warm breakfast fills your nose.

This is your first experience of Cooking Matters as a staff or volunteer at CEAP on Wednesday nights. Each week I check in on the class before it starts, eager to say hello to CEAP clients who are students in this 6 week class. I greet Maria Teresa, the instructor for the class and from students I hear, “what are we cooking for class tonight?!” “I made the recipe from last week’s class at home and my kids LOVED it!” How great it is to hear these students excited and ready to learn.

After Maria Teresa introduces what students will be cooking that night, everyone heads into the kitchen to start. Students watch the chef prepare the recipe step-by-step.

I love listening to the dialogue during this time. Clients asking questions like “how do you hold a knife properly?” “What’s the difference between margarine and butter?” “What does the term organic really mean?”

It’s fascinating to listen to some of the questions they have during class. Some are serious concerns regarding personal health that may be changed by proper eating and diet changes; So much of which is taught in Cooking Matters.

As the chef finishes up the recipe, students break into groups and begin cooking. The kitchen is buzzing as you hear chopping; peeling, sizzling, and chatting begin. Once all the groups have finished, they gather around to share a meal and listen to the lesson that week. During that time they openly share stories from home, exchange tips, and ask questions.

As class comes to a close, student’s collect a bag of groceries filled with fresh ingredients to cook at home during the week.

How amazing is that? To be able to attend a class, watch a recipe being prepared, cook the recipe, eat it, listen to a health lesson, and take ingredients home to cook. All of which are making a difference in the way people view food and take care of themselves and their families.

I believe everyone should know how to cook, whether you’re starting at age 5 or 95. Cooking is an integral part of life and food is so important. I am so thankful for this partnership with the University of Minnesota so CEAP families can experience and learn hands-on, engaged cooking and nutrition for themselves. The opportunity to bring something like this to CEAP families is truly phenomenal. That’s why Cooking really does Matter.

January 9th, 2015
Category: Uncategorized