Starting in March, the Village will be playing host to a series of monthly cooking classes highlighting traditional foods made from scratch. While we will be cooking in our various historic kitchens, the products and methods you take home will be usable in a modern kitchen as well. As the first part of our Meet the Village People series, I will introduce myself–don’t worry, you’ll meet everyone else in the coming months–so that you will know just who that person in front of the fire is when you arrive at class.
When people see me cooking in the historic kitchens at the Village, their first question is usually “How did you learn to do that?” Well, I learned to cook in a historic kitchen while working at another historic village museum, Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, where I grew up. But, most of what I do in our historic kitchens is really just home cooking techniques, very slightly adapted. Once you learn how to light a fire quickly and to control temperature just a little bit, the rest is just like cooking at home from scratch. You will probably have a few failures along the way. My most notable one was making a simultaneously burnt and soupy gingerbread last year, but as long as you keep an eye on things, it really is just cooking.
My interest in “cooking from scratch”, however, is a much longer story. I have always loved being in the kitchen and was frequently the littlest helper in the kitchen with my grandmother, my aunts, and my mom. As a child, my local librarian knew my name and knew exactly what books to put aside for me. She still knows my name, even though I live on the other side of the country! One year, I developed a fascination with both historic fiction and cookbooks. That particular fascination became permanent rather quickly and my kitchen is now full of cookbooks; at last count there were over 200. Combining my love of food and my love of history started early and has continued to this day. When I was about 6, my Grandma Hauk bought a bread machine. Before that point, I had never seen anyone actually make bread and I’m not sure I thought it was actually possible! But, Grandma was a teacher and she showed me not only how to work with the bread machine but how to mix and knead bread all on my own, and when I got back home, I begged to be allowed to experiment in the kitchen. I have continued to investigate and experiment and now most everything in my kitchen is made from scratch, and I am constantly learning new techniques. Teaching at the Village lets me share my hobbies with you and I can’t wait to see all of your kitchen experiments as well! I’ll try to post highlights of our classes as they happen, so keep your eyes on our blog and our other social media to see what’s cooking!