Learn Something at the Co-op

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Learning opportunities abound at the Co-op.  In fact, a rich variety of classes are offered every month at the Co-op, and they are all open to the public. Classes are offered free of charge and coordinated by the Education Department at the Co-op. A total of 110 classes were presented in the month of June alone! Class topics typically range from food preparation to various health topics to foreign language and music learning to financial topics.  The class schedule can be found in hard copy at the store and appears as a color-coded calendar and coordinating class list. It can be viewed online, as well.

Taking My Turn at Co-op Learning

It was the longest day of the year and the weather outside couldn’t have been better. Still, the registered participants began gathering in the coolness of the Teaching Kitchen at about 5:50 for the 6:00 demonstration class on seaweed recipes. The hour and a half long class was taught by Co-op Member-Owner Raya Ioffe, a founding member of the Co-op and President of Raya Wellness. Trained in Biology at Cornell University, Raya has many titles, including Wellness Coach. Perhaps she should have another: Seaweed Preparation Specialist!

Raya began by telling the class a little about how she got involved with nutritional healing through her own health journey and she spoke of the nutritional benefits of iodine-rich seaweed. It improves thyroid function and regulates metabolism, among other things. And it can taste surprisingly good!

First on the agenda was Kelp Noodles with Asian Dressing. Raya handed out the recipe and then demonstrated how to use the base of tahini, soy sauce, honey, garlic and lemon as a starting point for even more flavors. The kelp noodles came packaged from the international foods section. All seven members in attendance got a taste before we went on to the next dish, a sort of nori vegetable wrap with two different dipping sauces. Vegetables and smoked salmon were chopped and offered as ingredients for a make-your-own nori wrap that could be vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or dairy-free, as the consumer prefers. Dipping sauces with two entirely different characters were demonstrated and tasted together and individually. The sweet and sour dipping sauce calls for ripe persimmons, but Raya substituted fresh strawberries because no ripe persimmons could be found. She gave us permission to try different kinds of fruit, mango or pear, for example. Other key ingredients for a delightful sauce were umeboshi plums, ginger, and nama shoyu, which is gluten-free tamari. The red sesame dipping sauce featured raw tahini, red miso, and green onion, along with the umeboshi plums. It was delicious! The class participants tried all the different serving selections. Within an hour, the Grocery Department sold out of kelp noodles.

…Then, Learning Some More!

The following week, 16 interested observers were treated to a cooking demonstration by food writer and journalist Stacey Morris and her partner, Chef Bill. The subject was Clean Comfort Food and the product did not disappoint. The Bolognese Sauce a la Chef Bill was a thick, hearty meat sauce with ground beef and pork, diced tomatoes, wine, chopped onions, and a variety of fresh herbs served over gluten-free pasta. Chef Bill’s advice to the group was clear: 1. Never use dried herbs when you can use fresh herbs. 2. Use only grass-fed meat. 3. Do not overcook the sauce. The dessert course had been prepared ahead of time by Ms. Morris. She created a Crème de Lemon Pudding that was free of gluten and cow dairy. The key ingredient was coconut palm sugar. She explained that it looks like brown sugar; yet it has a lower glycemic index. Her advice: use a little less than is called for in order to really taste the lemon. Her other favorite sweeteners are raw honey, maple syrup, and birch syrup. This sampling is one of the many recipes developed by Morris for her cookbook/memoir Clean Comfort: Finding Peace, Balance, and My Perfect Weight.

Honest Weight might just be the smartest co-op around. Co-op members, please peruse the schedule, choose a class, bring a friend. Register for classes or just show up. Members with classes to offer, contact Suzanne Martin, Education coordinator here!