Cooking Class – Where Food & Friends Meet

Friend is a loaded word for me.

Having loads of acquaintances, I actually only have a handful of friends, most of whom live a good driving distance, if not a plane ride, away.

Enter my Little Sister in my sorority, Becca. This is us when we’re somewhere to the tune of 19 years old. You know, about 10 years ago ūüėČ

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She lives in MA, about 2 1/2 from me, and has a brood of 4 beautiful children who consume most of the hours in her day. Getting together is always a challenge, but we like to do it a few times a year, just so we can say we saw each other’s beautiful face, even if for just a few hours.

She’s like me – loves good food – so I asked her how far she was from Stonewall Kitchen‘s flagship store in York, ME because they do these fabulous demonstration lunches/dinners where you get served a delicious meal while you watch the chef make the same meal. All the while, the Chef gives great tips for the¬†how to¬†of exacting certain flavors, and answers any kinds of questions from the guests. Most classes have a limit to the number of people who can attend – around 30 or so – and this day’s class was about 15 people.

I like to call it lunch and a show. Truth is, for a demonstration cooking class, you can pay upwards to $50 just to watch someone else make the food, and a 3 course lunch can easily go upwards to $30, if not more. So for $60, it’s a bargain, in my humble opinion.

If you’re a foodie, love cooking classes, or just want a good meal with a show, I highly recommend taking one of their classes¬†if you’re anywhere within the vicinity of York, ME. The store is fabulous, their products are pretty tasty for the most part (although I am far more partial to my own jams), and the cooking classes are just plain fun.

Becca and I decided on the class called¬†The Empty Plate State – the meal we’d see prepared and eat was Cheese Stuffed Jalape√Īo Poppers, BBQ Braised Brisket over Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Hot Buttermilk Biscuit, String Beans with Shallots, and Texas Sheet Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Sea-Salted Caramel Sauce.

Yeah. Dear Lord. Clearly, we were hungry when we saw this class option, clearly we were wanting comfort food to accompany the loss of warmer days in New England, and clearly we weren’t thinking clearly.

This was soooo muuucccchhhh fooooddd!! And stick-to-your-ribs kinda comfort food.

Becca and I are pretty funny people who enjoy each other’s company immensely. We met at the store and wandered through before class, picking out the goodies we needed¬†to bring home. These kinda moments – shopping with a good friend, wherever you may be, can be hilarious. We commented on absolutely everything we looked at, tasted everything available, made faces at a bunch of product we did and didn’t like, etc, etc.

I actually sometimes wonder what someone nearby is thinking about the things we say, since 90% of them are inappropriate and off-color. All the while, we’re just howling like a small pack of hyenas.

In addition to the foodie stuff, we gabbed about absolutely everything, from our families to fashion – like it’s OK to wear corduroy [which we both did]: it is back in fashion session, after all – as long as it’s not the wide varietal of the 90s.

Shame on those girls who haven’t updated.

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As we settled into our front-row seats for the lunch demonstration, we hunkered down for a huge meal.

We started with the Jalape√Īo Poppers, and I actually failed to get a picture because as I looked at the recipe given to us, I noticed cilantro was in the ingredients, and not just as a garnish. Annnd, I had failed to inform the Chef when I registered for the class that I had any allergy to said ingredient.

Why I didn’t take a picture is beyond me – maybe it’s because when I think of cilantro, it makes me itch.¬†You can see them in the picture below.

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Even if you’re not in the front row, there are huge TV screens showing how the Chef is making the various aspects of the meal.

Here’s a wild statistic that doesn’t matter to most, until you are one of the affected – 10% of the human population has an aversion to cilantro. To 7% of that 10%, the herb tastes either metallic or soapy. The other 3% are me – allergic. Mine is an ingestion, delayed anaphylactic variety. What does that mean?? Keep reading.

How did I learn I was allergic? I ingested it, without knowing what it was, got a severely upset stomach [like couldn’t stand upright] that made me vomit, and the act of vomiting trigged anaphylaxis. Rush me to the hospital, can’t breath, eyes, lips, and throat swelling shut kinda good stuff.

It’s happened to me twice, the first being one of the greater stories of our marriage, but that’s for another post.

A note [namely to self]… always inform others of allergies when taking food classes. Duh.¬†Like serious¬†DUH!

After the Poppers came the meal…

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Oh, hello, Sunday dinner for a Tuesday lunch. OMG. It. Was.¬†DELICIOUS!¬†though. They give you the recipes, and Becca & I decided we’d happily make everything again but the brisket. It was a 3 day recipe – not difficult, but one that was required significant planning that neither of us were that good at. The conclusion was this was a recipe that was better left as one that someone else made for us.

Becca nor I wanted to eat for the next 72 hours after this meal. It was that filling. I think I had a small handful of fruit for dinner that night.

And then, as if the copious amounts of food to this point weren’t enough, enter dessert. Texas Sheet Cake.

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CRIKEY!!! 

This was my face as I saw them assembling these desserts:

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Cute, huh?

At least you can’t see my tonsils in this picture. I have a few goodies from the past where you can actually see that I still have my tonsils.

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Ridiculously ah-mazing.¬†Texas sheet cake is so easy to make, makes an abundant amount in a very short time, and just makes people smile. Who wouldn’t want that kind of meal topper?

If you don’t have a recipe for a sea-salted caramel sauce, just gonna throw this out there…Stonewall Kitchen makes a¬†mean¬†sauce¬†that will happily top any dessert with both sass and class.

In the end, Becca and I waddled out of the cooking class and back into the store to buy the goodies we’d picked out before class. Oddly, I didn’t buy the sauce. Next time, though.

We had a blast, laughed a lot, ate a ton, probably gained a few pounds, bought even more, and made plans to come back.

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I’ll say it again, if you’re ever in the vicinity of York, ME and just want a good meal and a show, Stonewall Kitchen Cooking Classes are a must!

Just make sure you have a good friend with whom you can laugh.

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