This week I took my daughter, Hadyn, skiing. I have literally missed her childhood. I opened the restaurant when she had just turned three and last week she turned eleven. All the normal early childhood adventures my other two children had enjoyed were just completely skipped. The realization was a growth moment. While I had been around (sort of) I hadn’t really been present. I was too tired, working too hard, needed to sleep, or just take this phone call, answer this email or return this text. While I had listened to people say, “it goes so quickly,” while nodding my head sagely, it never sunk in. Three to eleven just disappeared and I hadn’t even noticed.
Until the moment that I realized Hadyn did not know how to ski. So what, right? One sport is not a big deal. But I grew up riding horses and skiing. Horses, books, volleyball, cooking and skis were the only pastimes I had in the dark ages before the internet. She got to cook in the restaurant and assist in cooking class, but horses, volleyball and skiing were a complete mystery to her. So I decided that one of the new rules I was going to integrate was to not miss any more opportunities to teach Hadyn new things.
Our relationship (you and me) is a little bit like that. Most of you knew me from the restaurant and knew that I could cook. But we missed out on the part where I taught you what I know about making food delicious and comforting and healthy at the same time. Maybe a few of you took my classes, but judging by the numbers of people who signed up already, that was a small fraction. The rest of you are probably still floundering from cookbook -> diet -> deprivation model in an attempt to get healthier and stay that way. So each month I am going to teach you something new and fabulous about what I know. And I cook a lot better than I ski.
January – Learning the basics of a ‘mise en place,’ caramelization, reduction, toasting, braising, Gretchen’s bag of tricks
February – fats and oils (heart health month!) dark chocolate, how to cook greens & why to love greens, label reading and understanding your complex palate
March – ancient grains, beans, legumes, pulses, rice, and all the cooking methods and tricks you need to know
April – proteins (it’s a REALLY big subject!)
May – sweet stuff, natural sugars, nuts and seeds
June – the art of salsas and slurries, spices and their soulmates, culinary influences and fusions from around the world
July – juicing, raw, sushi, wrap and roll
August – summer bounty, preservation techniques, smoking, dehydrating, pickling
September – slow food and Mediterranean (will add in readers choice on what is missing so far)
November – root vegetables, winter squashes, curries, Asian fusion
December – Holiday foods and readers choice on rethinking our comfort foods
I imagine that this syllabus will act like a guideline for a journey that will take lots of meandering turns. I like a bit of structure when I teach, but not so much that I can’t take a detour if need be. I will post each weeks adventure on Monday morning which will include a grocery list and recipes to follow along with. I have yet to figure out what day will work best for Facebook live/YouTube videos. If you have suggestions, please email me or post on the blog.
Hadyn’s first day of skiing was a disaster. I didn’t feel qualified to do the actual teaching part since I hadn’t skied since I opened the restaurant so I got her a full day lesson with a certified instructor. Her instructor spent most of the afternoon on her cell phone shouting at her sister and was not present or committed to her learning. She also told Hadyn not to lose control on her skies or she would die like a girl had on the same slope two days before. It is impossible to NOT lose control when you are learning to ski. When I picked Hadyn up, she was a quivering mess and didn’t want to go skiing the next day. She was sure she was heading to a certain doom. After I pried the story out of her, I was horrified that I had let someone else teach my precious baby how to be scared and NOT how to ski.
New rules: don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
I coaxed her up to the big hill and taught her how to fall. I spent the rest of the day rebuilding the excitement and innate confidence she had in the beginning. After a couple of hours she turned to me and said, “I am really proud of myself. I’m crushing this!” She was amazingly resilient. She just needed to believe that she could fall and get up again.
THAT right there is what I want to teach you: how to be really proud of your learning and CRUSH IT in the kitchen.
I will not be afraid to fail as a teacher and you will not be afraid to fall.
This is going to be a great year.
click below to see my little snow monster crushing it