New Year's Resolution - Learn a Life Skill
You probably made lots of New Year’s Resolutions as midnight struck to ring in 2018. One of them was probably a vow to eat more healthily. For lots of good reasons! Relying on commercial ready meals and takeaways to keep you sustained costs a fortune, piles on the pounds, and brings on the serious and sometimes fatal health issues associated with a fast food diet. Learning to cook our own meals is an essential life skill that we should all possess. It’s well reported that good homecooked food is the best way to be sure of what you are eating and will contribute to a healthier lifestyle. If learning to cook or imporving your skills in the kitchen wasn’t part of your ‘things to do in 2018’ list, then perhaps you should take another look at that list. This is one life skill you won’t regret acquiring.
Like anything, the first step to learning to cook or learning to cook better, is to want it to happen. The second step is to make it happen. So where do you start?
1. Buy a Book!
Invest in a good cook book which is presented in easy to understand style and goes through the most basic recipes, with scope to get adventurous as confidence levels rise. Some of our members have written great food books which take you by the hand in the kitchen. Here are some of them.
Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course is an absolute bible which takes you right through from the very simple dishes, to being able to combine and adapt recipes as you get better at it. This is the book for every cook, from the complete novice to those who want to expand their repertoire.
Darina is a straightforward no-nonsense teacher, who has educated hundreds of students at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Some have gone on to become chefs in their own right. No one is saying this is expected of you at home. But it may well turn out that once you start making your own food, you might find you’ve also discovered a new career.
Dublin Cookery School’s Lynda Booth has inspired many students in her city based cookery school. From complete beginners who didn’t know one end of a saucepan from the other, to enthusiastic home cooks who wanted to learn how to impress with fine dining, all have graced her kitchens and come out the better for it. Her three-month professional cookery course has put many a cook on the road to a successful career in the food industry,
Now you can bring Lynda into your kitchen with two great books. Lynda teaches in an approachable style that instills confidence in the kitchen. Her first book, From Lynda’s Table, gathers together a selection of favourite dishes taught at the school.
Written in easy to follow style, this book teaches at home the way Lynda would teach you in the kitchen. Shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards and the World Gourmand Cookbook Award in 2014, Lynda’s Table is still wowing readers four years later.
Her second book, Fearless Food, was published in 2017 and won the Listowel Book Fair Book of the Year Award last Octoer. A dynamic collection of accessible recipes which Lynda describes as ‘a guide to culinary courage’. Both books are available on the Dublin Cookery School website.
Good Food No Stress from Tara Walker at the East Coast Cookery School does exactly what it says on the cover! As a busy mother and business owner, Tara understands the demands of time and the importance of having tasty and nutritious meals that reduce stress levels rather than increase them. In this book, published in 2017, she has compiled a collection of delicious recipes for you to explore right from your kitchen! Over 120 recipes sorted into great categories take you through every day dishes to special dinner party treats. Available in all good bookstores and online at the East Coast Cookery School website.
The Ard Bia Cook Book by Aoibheann MacNamara includes the legendary recipes of the iconic Ard Bia at Nimmos in Galway’s Spanish Quarter. Using local produce at its heart, this book speaks volumes about regional cooking and shows how easy it is to transform local ingredients into easy dishes all the family will love. Plus there’s a personal touch with stories from author and Ard Bia founder Aoibheann. Cooking your way through these pages is an extremely pleasant way to learn to feed yourself!
2. Take a Course!
Cookery Classes are available at our member Cookery Schools. From Afternoon demos to evening classes and full on courses, you’ll find a mountain of culinary inspiration from the following members:
Dingle Cookery School, located in the wonderful town of Dingle on the Wild Atlantic Way, offers a nunber of courses this spring season. The Sunday Roast (4th February) teaches participants all they need to know to put on the best meal of the week for the family. If you feel adventurous, you might want to try the Pastry and Desserts course - specially for those who love a nice pudding at the end of the meal! Saturday 10th February.
Men only are welcomed to the Friday Night Supper Club on 2nd February, for an evening of culinary education and tasting what you made afterwards. As Mark Murphy says, ‘this men-only class has its own distinct atmosphere of fun cooking and banter!'
Aniar Boutique Cookery School, in the kitchens of the famous Aniar Michelin star restaurant of Jp McMahon, focusses on instilling confidence in cooking through food education. The Understanding Food course runs over six weeks, starting Monday 29th January. Classes look at basic food elements, including origin, traceability, wild foods, seasonal foods and foraging in your local environment. Samples to taste and bring home afterwards of whatever has been cooked on the night. Day Workshops include How to be a Better Cook and Planning a Dinner Party. Check out the Aniar Restaurant website for course details and booking.
Hartes Cookery School at Hartes of Kildare provides an insight into the great dishes served in this fabulous award winning restaurant in Kildare town. Executive Chef Barry Liscombe takes students through their paces in the kitchen in a friendly and accessible way, giving confidence and assistance for even the most nervous of participants. January courses include Healthy Cooking and Vegetarian, on the 15th January, and Breads and Baking on 29th January. Booking now being taken by telephone at Hartes of Kildare.
Ballymaloe Cookery School needs no introduction. A full programme of events at the school includes afternoon demos each day, full or half day classes and short courses. A variety of choices are available on the Ballymaloe Cookery School website. Everything from Gluten Free cooking to the Saturday Pizza Masterclass in the half day programme. There’s always something interesting happening in the kitchen on the Afternoon Cookery Demonstrations. Classes begin at 2pm sharp, and guests get a copy of all recipes, plus tastings of all the food made during the demo. You’ll be amazed at how much Darina and her team get through in one of these afternoon sessions.
And you’ll go home invigorated and ready to start experimenting in your own kitchen. Book online at the Ballymaloe Cookery School website. Demos start from 10th January.
Dublin Cookery School’s cookery class programme came racing out of the traps, on 6th January, ready for cookery action in 2018! An exciting line up of day and evening courses will appeal to all levels of experience. Good Food Fast on Tuesday 16th January, and Cheat’s Guide to Gourmet Cookery, on 20th January, really appeal to our desire to learn how to impress people! These and more inspirational classes are available to book online at Dublin Cookery School. The One Month Cookery Course, running four times a year, gives you a good solid grounding in cooking, whilst the Three Month Cookery Course sets you up for a career in food.
East Coast Cookery School, run in the Termonfeckin home of Tara Walker, has introduced a brand new class for the 2018 programme. Starting on January 12th and 13th, Healthy Fast and Fresh is a hands on class teaching you to create healthy meals in a hurry. On the evening of January 13th, you can learn how to Ditch the Takeaway, with a few recipes that will indulge a lazy dinner on the lap evening in your own home. Favourite take away classics covered. We’re in! Book now on the East Coast Cookery School website.