Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Celebrating [Birthdays and] Pumpkin

Today is the second day in a row that I've been cooped up in the house due to a nasty cold. It's truly mind numbing to be stationary on the couch with no energy to actually do anything. I know I'm not feeling like myself when I have no desire to eat, cook, or watch food-related shows on TV.

Being sick always gives me a better perspective on feeling normal, once it happens again. It's very easy to take for granted how lucky we can be to feel healthy from day to day. Because Mother's Day has just passed and I'm needing to reminisce on a great day after 2 crummy ones, I'll take this time to share with you a great experience that Mom and I shared back in January!

Mom, aka Carol, and I both celebrate our birthdays in January and this year my parents would be here in Hawaii for the occasion. Like we did a few years back, my Dad and I coordinated a cooking class for Mom and I to enjoy together while he would reap the benefits of leftovers, new recipes, and not having to search for a physical present! Of course we drove Mom cra-zay by not telling her what the surprise would be until her actual birthday.

Very early on Saturday morning we headed to Kapiolani Community College for our class called Celebrate Pumpkin. Mom snapped this great photo on the way. Visitors always manage to soak up the views in a way that residents forget to!

Each pair of us had our own kitchen area which was totally prepped for us. Each and every utensil, pot, pan, and kitchen gadget was ready and waiting to create something delicious! DJ please Que Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast.

For each of the recipes we'd first gather in the front of the classroom and watch the chef instruct us through the step-by-step instructions. Thus begins the tale of 2 Carols: Mama Carol is always the teachers pet and the Chef is also Carol and we'd met several times before. The thing that brings both Carols and myself together is that we're all from Pittsburgh! Yinz are crazy.

After the detailed instructions we'd return to our work area equipped with visual memories, written recipes, and pre-measured ingredients to get cooking.

Perhaps my favorite item of the day were these Cream Filled Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins.

We prepared all of our muffins and their heavenly filling and tucked them safely into the oven before learning about our next task. 

I'm not a teachers pet like Mom, although I am an avid note taker. The most valuable tip on this recipe page is that you can always spray non-stick on the inside of muffin/cupcake papers to help them come off with ease. Who knew?! These muffins are an incredible mixture of warm, comforting pumpkin, surprise jackpots of chocolate chips, and decadent cream cheese filling. I'd eat them for breakfast daily if I could afford a new, larger wardrobe!

Our next project was the Curried Pumpkin Soup. Mom had never used fresh ginger in a recipe before so I took the opportunity to make her do the hard work while exploiting her by photograph!

My dear friend Lisette, who always has great ideas, pointed me in the direction of these cooking classes and joined us on our adventure! She was just next door kitchen to us and always kept a sparkling clean work area :)

The Curried Pumpkin Soup was a winner! Because we were all provided samples to try in class, we had so, so many leftovers to take home including this giant container of soup. It was eaten daily for a week in our home. Just the right amount of heat and plenty of fresh cilantro created a yin-yang like balance of tastes. The best tip noted on this page is that you can use and eat the stems of cilantro!

The class description promised that pumpkin isn't just for baking and they really delivered on the promise of savory and entree-worthy recipes. In addition to the pumpkin soup, we also made Healthy Macaroni and Cheese with Pumpkin.

Now I'm not posting the recipes because it just doesn't seem right to do so. If you're dying to have one of them I'd be more than happy to share, just ask! The M&C + pumpkin was awesome, of course. I would have liked a little more cheese, thus canceling out the healthy claim. Helpful hint for cooking with cheese: mustard makes cheese taste cheesier so muster up the courage to add it - ha!

Our final recipe was another baked good and I managed to goof it up! While we were all listening to Chef Carol direct us away from disaster, many of us panicked as soon as she said "room temperature butter" because we'd failed to remove ours from the fridge. That's how I got this...

Frank is the organizer and oversee-er of the students. He quickly came to my rescue with his reassuring words and stronger arm muscles to salvage my Pumpkin Blondies!

They are fan-pumpkin-tastic! The only thing that could possibly make a dense, chewy, pumpkin blondie with chocolate chips better would be MORE chocolate chips. We also learned that freezing cakes or bar cookies, just partially, before cutting works wonders!

This cooking class was very different from our first because we were actually cooking the recipes! The first class we'd gone to consisted of us sitting and watching the cook. What they both had in common was all the delicious tasting and sampling, of course! 

Mom and I had so much fun - thanks Dad!

I'm not a tall lady but these two really make me look the part! Thanks for the great idea, Lisette. I'll look for our next opportunity to learn and eat as soon as I post this. Seriously.

For just $60 a person, the classes are above and beyond the dollar value. We learned so much and were fully entertained for half of the day. The amount of food that we took home, alone, was worth the money. I highly recommend taking a cooking class for your next outing!

Finally our parting shot: 3 ladies from the 'Burg. Yinz eatjet?! I'm getting hungry for a sammich.

As the title of the blog implies, this is a perfect example of a collision of Hawaii and Pittsburgh, PA - Aloha and Yinz!

1 comment:

  1. Comments from the "Teachers Pet", otherwise know as Mama!! Angie forgot to mention the "Pumpkin Latte"....it was delicious, and she limited how much I drank, since I don't drink coffee or caffiene.....I was really enjoying it, and she but the brakes on that!!! This was our 2nd cooking class together, and my advice to other moms who want to spend some quality, fun time with the daughters...take a cooking class, where you are both students!
    It's killing me that I'm not going to Camp-Blog-Away with her, but I've got an Aloha Yinz Mangia Wedding to pay for in September!! Love ya Angie...Mama's proud!