Friday, June 11, 2010

Back to Basics: Online Courses and Other Resources

Until very recently, I was completely hopeless in the kitchen. Over the last couple years, I've improved a lot just by jumping in with a bit of confidence, improvising, and learning from my (many) failures. I never learned the basics, though. I don't know the jargon or the knife skills. I can't tell you the purposes of baking soda and baking powder without getting out the packages to remind me which is which. I have a hard time juggling multiple dishes so that everything comes out hot. Once, I set a paper towel on fire. (Now I keep an extinguisher very close by.)

As an enthusiastic food writer, I feel like it's my responsibility to become more informed on cooking techniques, history, and a whole lot more. I took an arts criticism class as an elective during my science journalism master's program, and one thing we discussed was how professional critics provide context (social, historical, etc.) whereas civilian reviewers are more likely to just focus on their own tastes. I want to be able to provide more context. In my new Back to Basics series, I'll be completing lessons from a wide variety of online learn-to-cook resources, giving myself reading assignments, and immersing myself to a greater extent in all things food-related. I'll share everything I learn with you, and maybe you'll be able to learn something new as well.

Speaking of online courses, I received an email yesterday about a course that seems interesting. I hope you don't mind a short bit of advertising; if you end up signing up for this e-course via my link, I get a small commission, which will probably lead to immense amounts of cupcake questing.

Kimi Harris has created a 13-week e-course, A Peasant's Feast: Nourishing Food on a Budget, aimed at fitting healthy eating into a realistic schedule and budget. The course costs $120 - less than $10 per lesson. Topics covered will include making one pound of beef feed 6-8 people, sprouting and soaking grains, making homemade yogurt, and a lot more. Harris is taking a multimedia approach: lessons will include PDFs, videos, a discussion forum, and more. I got to take a sneak peak at the materials for week five - seafood week - and I can tell you that there's a whole lot of useful information and some interesting recipes. 

So, if you're interested in the e-course, please consider signing up through this link. By doing so, you will fund my cupcake quest, in which I will consume thousands of calories of cupcakes so you don't have to!

And for my Back to Basics series, if you'd like to suggest online resources, articles or books I should read, or anything else, leave a comment here or send an email. Happy learning, everyone!

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