So many folks today do not have a grandmother to turn to for cooking or gardening advice– not even an aunt or uncle with kitchen skills. It’s just the simple truth that many of our mothers and grandmothers worked full time jobs for most of the years since World War II. Even in rural parts of the country over the last 60 years farmers and farmer’s wives have come to depend on the supermarket for quick and ready-made foods. In an odd cultural turn around it seems that hands-on kitchen learning is having a resurgence at the very same time there are fewer of us to pass on those very skills.
It’s been my amazing good fortune to have more than 50 years experience cooking and preserving food for my family and friends. So I’m that grandma! Plus I love to show people how to get serious about home provisioning; the goal of always having food for yourself and your family whether they are bound to you by blood or friendship. Because I’m a culinary historian as well as a Grandma through out our time together I’ll be sharing lots of bits and pieces of lore and fact about food across the centuries. No tests-no 250 word essays, I promise.
My skilled and creative late husband built me a kitchen that is wonderful to cook in and especially fun to teach in. It has lots of soapstone counter space, deep cupboards and drawers for my various collections of cooking utensils, numerous shelves for my cookbooks and many windows that look out into our yard and garden with the barn peeking above the trees. This is the setting where you and I and our fellow students will play and learn cooking skills that your grandmother would have been proud to pass on to you!
Along with scheduled events I also offer my classes and history dinners to private groups. Please contact me about scheduling your event.
Click on the To Schedule.. button at the class description to let me know the date/s you are interested in organizing.
NOTE: Except for the Pressure Canning class where due to safety reasons I prefer all adults, students as young as 12 are welcome (as long as they are willing participants and not dragged kicking and screaming) and if accompanied by an adult.
Directions: I live 16 miles west of Charlottesville, Virginia; and my postal address is Crozet but our house is 4 miles north of White Hall. Go figure! Living in the country has so many wonderful features but it means that to my new students it can seem a real distance to drive! (For those of us who regularly make the trip to town it is usually a 25 min trip from Barrack’s Road Shopping Center – but we country folk tend to drive like bats out of hell!).
Half-Hog Butchery with Leni at Indigo House: Saturday, Jan 18, 2020
Join me in my kitchen for a demonstration of butchering a half-hog from start to finish for home use. Participants will see how I break the carcass into its useful parts, and wrap and prepare cuts for the freezer. I will make suggestions on how to cook the cuts, and offer information on the process of making fresh sausage. While this is a demonstration class with little hands on work each participant will slice their own pork chop to wrap and take home.
A hot lunch will be served. Class limited to 8 people. 10 AM – 2 PM $95
Saturday, Jan 18, 2020
Organize a class
Putting By #1: Hot Water Bath Canning
Choose a class in July, Aug, or Sept
It’s the canning season! And I have a feeling the tomatoes and the peaches are going to be beautiful this year! Everybody in this class will have a hands-on canning experience in my farmstead kitchen where I can every season for my own family. Knowing how to can for the future is a skill you will always be glad you have whether you grow your own vegetables or buy local summer produce from farmer’s markets in Charlottesville or the surrounding counties. Along with the directions for peeling and cutting and stuffing fruit in jars our day together will have lots of stories of the history of food preservation as part of the delightful resurgence of saving the bounty of the summer harvest in jars. You will learn the basics of the boiling water bath method of canning tomatoes and peaches with applesauce replacing peaches later in the season when the peaches are over. When class is over and the last hot jar is out of the kettle you will leave with full jars to share with family or friends or (if they last) to stash in your pantry. I include a light lunch cause it is a long day of work over a hot stove. Class 9 am-2 pm. 4-8 students. $85 (all fruit/jars included) Saturdays – July, Aug , Sept
Putting By#2 Pressure Canning:
This is the serious side of canning – join the advanced class to learn the use of the pressure canner. Canning chicken, beef or venison stock or meat is a fabulous skill to have under your belt! You will learn about safety, how to use a pressure canner, and what are the best foods to be preserved by this method. You will process a simple meat stock, and either green beans or sweet corn depending on what is available locally.
Large pressure canners became a tool of the prosperous farm kitchen as early as 1917. But the pressure cooker, as we know it today, was perfected for home use in the late 1940s. It allowed cooks to prepare meals quickly and when used as a canner to put up low-acid vegetables and meats in safety. Pressure canning is a skill any serious cook will want to know. Light lunch included. Class 9 am to 2 pm. 4-8 students $85 (all ingredients /jars included) Dates TBA
NOTE: Class #1 or previous experience with the boiling water bath technique is necessary to take Class #2