What's cooking club

Sunday came and went and we didn't have enough people who'd rsvp'd to 'cooking club' to hold a formal event... but I had already bought stuff for Mole and tamales so I packed up my shopping cart and dragged it to a friend's and we made Mole and tamales anyway. If I may say- the Mole was delicious- rich, complex, spicy! We used dried ancho and anaheim peppers fried in Flying Pig lard (from the farmer's market) then soaked, pureed and blended with toasted almonds, pumpkin and sesame seeds, toasted pepper seeds, spices, and bits of butter fried bread and corn tortillas. Add Mexican chocolate and homemade turkey broth and let it simmer for an hour... pretty much Diana Kennedy's recipe. The tamales on the other hand were kinda heavy. I'd blended corn flour (masa harina) with broth, lard, butter and salt- mixed it for a long time in my trusty kitchen-aid, hoping it would become airy/fluffy... but the masa was flavorless and sodden- and the fillings not exciting (roasted green poblanos w. queso fresco, or turkey with salsa verde.) They looked pretty (hmmm- no camera these days- gave it to my son who's spending the semester working at Our School at Blair Grocery down in NOLA http://schoolatblairgrocery.blogspot.com ... look at his pictures (with my camera) and think about donating to the place!) But, back to tamales: pretty and tasty are not synonymous.

What was missing from the evening was Deena and chocolate- but what was lovely was the relaxed pleasure of friends cooking together, accomplishing a complex recipe, expanding our oeuvre, being okay with it not being great. All of this has led to excellent discussion about what cooking club is or can be, and what makes it different than Communal Table salon suppers (but still part of Communal Table.)

CT salon suppers are carefully choreographed entertainments blending stories with a meal designed to enhance a theme that changes each time but reflects what Deena and I are thinking about. There is often a political bent. There is often hands-on practice. There is always invited 'speakers'. The meals are mostly all vegetarian, something Deena is adamant about and I am willing to accept most of the time. When we do these suppers we think ourselves producers. (In fact, we have some wonderful events coming up with FarmCity.US at Local 61, exploring the ways cooking creates community http://farmcity.us/chautauqua-events-61-local/ )

What we want from What's Cooking Club on the other hand is a chance to collaborate and stick our necks out and get our hands dirty trying new things. Rather than 'producing an event' we're looking for collective participation- including coming up with what to cook! At first, we modeled this on CT salons- where we post a theme, set a price, prep everything, do the shopping... but we realize we'd rather put out a call for fellow enthusiasts who'd like to spend a Sunday once a month tackling a complicated recipe or exploring foods in a new way. I'm hot to make pȃté. Deena wants to explore probiotics and raw foods. Together we're eager to play with Bento boxes and 'charaben'. What we'd love is feed-back from you, dear reader/eater. What would you like to make? Then we'll post it here or facebook and raise a crew and figure out where and who's bringing what and have a good ol' cooking time together.
And, please, come to our salon suppers too!

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