Class teaches people on tight budget how to cook


"This really fun vegetable, it kind of looks like an orb from outer space," said chef Michelle McKenzie as she introduced a class of a dozen people to kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi is part of the cabbage family and it goes well with a hint of preserved lemon.

"So I'm going to run my knife down the preserved lemon," explained McKenzie.

It's the sort of class she would normally teach in two to three hours. But for the first time, the cooking non-profit 18 Reasons is trying something different.

"Kind of like a power hour at your gym, or a yoga class, but it's about food. So you'll actually cook and eat a delicious, healthy meal in less than an hour," said Sarah Nelson, the executive director of 18 Reasons.

The message is simple: even a busy person can be a great cook.

"Something we hear all the time is, 'You know, I always thought healthy food took a long time to make, or I thought healthy food didn't taste good,'" said Nelson.

"Rose and berries go really, really well together. I'm just going to take my pestle and just going to run it around," explained McKenzie to the class.

The very first class at lunchtime included dessert and for a special price -- $10.

The class is normally $20, which still might sound like a great deal when you find out where some of that money is going. 18 Reasons just merged with another local group, 3 Squares, to provide this same level of cooking instruction in communities where money is tight.

The two sides of the program aren't really that different. Both classes are just an hour long, both all about tasty and healthy. But families who need it can attend "Cooking Matters" for free and leave with a bag of groceries.

"In Cooking Matters, we try to really focus on affordable ingredients. So each serving of a recipe costs less $1.50," said Nelson.

"This is a great thing for kids to do," said McKenzie.

We spoke to a pair of young brothers in the class, Nelson and Clark Koskela. Knowing it's for a good cause might just be the 19th reason Clark is glad he showed up.

"Like every bite is so much different from the last one," said Clark.

Bloom: "Your brother's going to be a chef, huh?"
Nelson: "Yes, he is. Definitely."

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