Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Time to Get Your Hands Doughy

By Brianne Harrison

With money tight, gas expensive, and new salmonella scares cropping up every month, it seems, more and more people are going back to growing, making, and preserving their own food. The New York Times recently devoted a considerable amount of space to a story about the recent renaissance of canning and preserving—skills that, until recently, were mostly associated with the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Unsurprisingly, classes have begun cropping up to help modern-day foodies rediscover these skills. A Toute Heure in Cranford, a restaurant devoted to the “locavore” ideals, has started up its own Cooks’ Classes, which are hands-on and designed to help modern-day cooks learn skills like preserving and baking that they can use in their home kitchens. Coming up on June 8 is a class on bread. Bread making is often unfairly thought to be extremely difficult and time-consuming. Yes, it does take several hours to make bread, but most of those hours don’t involve the chef at all. Knead the dough, and leave it to rise for two hours while you run your errands, take the kids to soccer practice, or watch a movie. And the kneading process itself is a great stress relief—something most of us could use these days!

A Toute Heure’s class will cover the basics of breadmaking, and participants will create their own “mother” dough starter and experiment with flavorings and dough types. Everyone will leave with recipes they can try at home. Not bad for a two-hour class.

An upcoming class in July will cover pastry making, and the younger members of your family can check out the kids’ class and farm tour in August. Kids will learn where their food comes from and how a farm works and will help prepare a healthy meal that will be served family style at the end of the class. They, too, will walk away with recipes and ideas for cooking with locally sourced vegetables.

For registration information, contact A Toute Heure, 908.276.6600, atouteheure.com

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