Is your culinary repertoire limited to unwrapping a package and throwing the contents into the microwave or a pot of boiling water? Is there a budding Emeril Lagasse inside you – Bam! – even though you may not have someone to cook for? Want to learn how to make a tasty, healthy meal on a budget?
Veronica Cowan has a fix for you.
It’s called a Community Kitchen and it’s a place where you can cook and learn how to stretch your budget in a social atmosphere.
As part of her regular work with Surrey’s Milieu Family Services, a Surrey organization that provides support for adults with developmental disabilities, Cowan leads life-skills and cooking courses for her company’s clients in North Delta.
Community Kitchen is an offshoot of that, but for regular folks who want to get on better terms with their kitchen.
“It’s connecting with people in the community, helping each other out,” says Cowan at the first monthly session in the spacious kitchen of New Hope Christian Church in North Delta.
Paul and Lorraine are the program’s first people to sign up – and to make the first recipes: brown sugar meatloaf and spicy sweet potatoes.
The recipes were already bench-tested with a Milieu cooking class the previous week, Cowan tells the newcomers as they don their aprons and wash up.
“We did a rehearsal already, and this is fantastic – we know it’s going to taste good.”
Paul, a widower in his mid-30s, says he’s been eating out too much recently – and consuming too many stir-frys and frozen dinners at home.
“When I was married, I used to eat really healthy,” he says while chopping an onion.
“I’m bored of my own cooking. And (this) seemed like a good opportunity to come out and meet people.”
Lorraine, a retiree chopping potatoes, lauds the kitchen’s social atmosphere.
Cowan says that at each Community Kitchen, participants are encouraged to improvise and can brainstorm about future cooking sessions. (She has already concluded other Community Kitchens, featuring entrees such as toltot kaposzta, Hungarian cabbage rolls).
“Ultimately, I want to step back. I want the community to come up with their own menus.”
Milieu Family Services’ Community Kitchen runs monthly on the last Tuesday of each month from 4-7 p.m. at 11838 88 Ave. The cost is $5 to cook a meal you can eat there or take home.
For event dates and more information, call Veronica Cowan at 778-438-3045.