zoom in for dumplings
For many of us, a good chunk of our life has transitioned online as COVID spread across the globe. Work, school, even family time have moved to the internet. Cooking classes are no exception. Folks who are much more tech-savvy than me, working behind the scenes at culinary schools, are bringing students and instructors together safely, making it possible for us all to continue sharing the simple joy of making food together. One such example is PCC Cooks, the cooking school arm of PCC Community Markets in the Seattle area. I taught there in person in 2010-2015, where my students and I worked our way through the familiar standards of piroshki, dumplings, and blini, and, sometimes, more outlandish dishes like pickle soup and cheese salad. Even after cycling through the same recipes year after year, I looked forward to each and every class. In early 2016, my husband and I moved 200 miles away from Seattle, and the PCC Cooks adventure had to come to a close. Imagine my delight (and trepidation!) when they invited me to try teaching online this fall. I'd be Zoomed in from my own kitchen, PCC staff explained, with students all Zooming in from their own homes, and a staff person facilitating the class, e.g. reading aloud questions posted in the chat so I could reply. This sounded both exciting and scary. I was worried that my kitchen wasn't "professional" enough, or that I'd feel stilted when teaching online, similarly to how I feel in work meetings with more than one person. However, it was just too tempting not to try it, and I said, "Sign me up!" We agreed on a piroshki demo class for November and a dumplings cook-along for December. The piroshki class was last Sunday, and it put an end to my anxiety. No technical glitches or kitchen fires. Well, I did burn the cabbage filling pretty badly while sauteeing it, but it was off-camera and you can't smell things over Zoom (not yet anyway) and thankfully I had another batch that I'd made beforehand that I could use, so we can all pretend like it didn't happen. Perhaps the best part was seeing a handful of familiar faces, including my own parents and coworkers! Next up, dumplings. Or Russian and Jewish Dumplings, to be more precise. Tuesday, December 15, 5 pm, here's the link: https://www.pccmarkets.com/class/russian-and-jewish-dumplings/. We will make pelmeni with beef & pork, and kreplach with beef & caramelized onions. I've taught pelmeni as part of other classes before, and have made kreplach for Tom Douglas's Dumpling Fest (oh blessed times when you could have several hundred people crowding the Palace Ballroom with no concern of infection). But, I've never combined the two in one class, so that'll be fun from the perspective of both technique and food anthropology. These two dumplings basically represent the two sides of the Russian-Jewish experience. Please join, if you can. And please be well and take good care of yourselves and your loved ones, everyone. This is only temporary. We will get through this, and gather again in the kitchen before too long, bending over cutting boards and sizzling pans and simmering pots, together.