The finale of the Rockmart Farmers Market six-week cooking course proved to be a tremendous success for students Lily Anderson, Zac McComb, and Kelley McComb who used their newly cultivated skills to prepare an even more tremendous meal of roast chicken, roasted veggies, Caesar salad, and Molasses Spice Cookies.
Under teacher and Farmers Market Executive Director Shonna Kirkpatrick’s wing, the trio learned the ins and outs of kitchen safety, hygiene, and nutrition while preparing tasty meals every Tuesday.
The final class objective for the bunch was to demonstrate their skills by preparing a dish of choice before sitting down and eating together once more.
“What better way to learn about cooking than to pick a recipe yourself and experiment?” Kirkpatrick said.
Zac’s choice of meal was Caesar salad.
“I really don’t know why I like it so much,” Zac said. “I love the base ingredients, and I really love salad already.”
One of the base ingredients being salad dressing, the class gathered and mixed anchovy paste, garlic cloves, freshly squeezed lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, finely grated Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper before letting the salad topping chill in the refrigerator. Measuring and mincing were two previously learned skills the class applied.
“Learning to mince is probably my favorite skill I learned in the class,” Zac mentioned.
The salad itself called for Romaine lettuce to be chopped into bite size portions, flakes of Parmesan to be sprinkled on top, and bread to be chopped into small portions.
The tiny bread pieces are brushed over by olive oil, herbs, and salt before being toasted. Chopping was effortless for the group that previously learned proper cutting techniques, and each chef made sure to leave with all 10 fingers.
Molasses Spice Cookies were a unanimous choice for the class that seemed to be looking forward to a nutritious dessert.
“Molasses contains high levels of vitamin B6, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, and selenium,” Kirkpatrick said.
Combing butter, brown sugar, molasses, egg, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves ensured the classmates had to rely on cooking ware, but the group found no issue using a mixer and beating the ingredients into a creamy dough.
The soon-to-be cookies were given time to chill out in the refrigerator before being shaped into cookies.
The roast chicken, and main dish, was up next for the group during the Sept. 26 class, and Lily seemed to be looking forward to it.
“My favorite part of the entire class was cutting up a whole chicken,” the young cook said.
Before being sliced and eaten, however, Zac made sure to pat dry the bird and remove any moisture.
“Any moisture on the chicken will steam the meat, so if we dry it off first the meat will come out crispier,” Kirkpatrick said.
After being patted, the chicken was given a dry rub of salt and pepper before being cooked golden brown.
With only a veggie roast left, the class quickly chopped and diced the sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, onions, and beets into varying sizes.
“Sweet potato will caramelize, so smaller pieces are nice,” Kirkpatrick said.
The vegetables were tossed in olive oil and other spices before being placed in the oven with the chicken.
“A veggie roast with this many vegetables covers so many rich nutrients! Fiber, Vitamin C, Beta Caratine, manganese, vitamin B6, copper, vitamin C, dietary fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folate, and vitamin B1,” Kirkpatrick said. “When cooking with veggies, it is a guarantee that many of the nutrients we need are present and abundant.”
Once the food was cooked and skills were proven, the trio gathered around the table to make sure nothing remained of their creations.
Kirkpatrick ensured there would be future 6-week courses, but the original course is sure to be remembered by students and teacher alike.
“I used to not cook much because I didn’t grow up with it,” said Kelley. “But now I’m actually learning, and I really want to do more cooking.”
Cooking is a lost skill among some families, but the cooking classes make sure both the young and the old can prepare healthy meals for themselves.
Many other cooking classes, found at www.rockmartfarmersmarket.com/upcoming-classes, are scheduled throughout the year, and both the adult and kids courses typically cost $5.50 each.
Space inside the community kitchen is very limited, and those wanting to learn the ways of cooking from Kirkpatrick are urged to secure their spot because applicants are accepted on a first come first serve basis.
Customers who find themselves unable to attend should cancel so other potential chefs have the opportunity to join the classes.
Most produce used in market classes is acquired from the weekly farmers market. Those interested in purchasing local produce and other goods can visit Rockmart’s Water Street on Thursday where various farmers will be selling their goods from 2 to 6 p.m.