In the Kitchen with Good and Cheap

February 18, 2016

In the kitchen with…Good and Cheap by Elizabeth Backstrom

The Beatles, The Byrds and the smell of garlic fill the air as nutrition education coordinator Jandyl Doak sets out bowls of dried peas, chopped onion, carrots and potatoes at gleaming cooking stations. Staff in The Kitchen at Second Harvest are expecting 13 guests at Good and Cheap, tonight’s community cooking class.

When the crowd arrives, it’s bigger than expected. Sixteen people pile into the room, taking off coats and picking up glasses of lemon-flavored ice water as they settle in to listen to Doak’s discussion of the night’s recipe.

It’s a diverse group; the crowd includes two nutrition educators, a few local cooks looking for new technique, an autistic woman accompanied by her caregiver, three expectant mothers from Life Services Pregnancy Care Center and a woman learning to eat differently after a recent surgery.

Kathy, who had a bariatric procedure done a few weeks ago, is here to learn healthier cooking methods from Doak.

“My eating is completely different. She’s changed the way I eat,” she said.  

Doak and her kitchen staff make homemade cooking approachable and fun. They take the group on a tour of the commercial kitchen, demystifying machines and describing how things work. When the tour’s done, participants gather around the central island to watch Doak put together a soup before replicating the recipe themselves at their stations. Sounds of chopping and sizzling fill the air as a dozen pots fill with the makings of pea soup.

“The fun thing about cooking is first, it’s not hard, and second, if there’s something you like, add it,” Doak said. “Be creative.”

“Here are some Washington-grown potatoes, which we have a lot of in our warehouse right now,” she said, dicing potatoes and carrots into a boiling pot. A jar or turmeric was passed around the counter. Students sniffed approvingly.

“Part of cooking is to do it in the way that’s easiest for you, and to have fun with it,” Doak said.

As the class finishes their pots, Doak invites everyone for a meal of soup and burrito salad, made with fresh avocados and produce from the warehouse. “Who’s going to be first in line?” she joked as the class hurries to dish up the meal.