19. Take a cooking class

For the past two years, for both Father’s day and my dad’s birthday, I have been telling my dad to choose a class at The Chopping Block for us to take together. And for the past two years, I have been getting out of actually purchasing him a gift because we never get around to taking the class. This year I was a little more proactive for his birthday and decided to go ahead and just reserve the class, which guaranteed that we would actually attend.

A little background…in the mornings after holidays, my dad and I will meet in his kitchen to make soup. This started a few years ago and it’s something I hope we will do for a long time. After Thanksgiving we will make turkey soup with the left-over turkey. After Christmas we will make split pea soup with the left over ham. And throughout the winter he may show up with a various meats, just so that we can have some soup in the cold winter months. I love these days because we will spend all morning chopping veggies and reminiscing about holidays from my childhood as well as more recent ones. It’s also nice in the craziness of the holidays to get some quality (i.e….quiet) time with my dad.

However, every time we are chopping veggies, we are either complaining about the sharpness (or, more likely, dullness) of the knives. Or we are watching each other chop and commenting on how brilliant (or not-so-brilliant) of a chopping job we are doing. Enter Knife Skills. This is a class I have been wanting to take for years, and have mentioned it to my dad quite a few times as well. So I decided that for his birthday this year, we were going.

I have never taken a class at The Chopping Block, but I have always heard how much fun it is. And those people that told me it was fun aren’t lying. Our instructor, Ron, started out by teaching us how to hold a knife (I’ve been doing it wrong), and what to do with our non-cutting hand (I’ve also been doing this wrong). He explained the parts of the knife, how it is constructed, and what the difference is among knife manufacturers. Then he dove into why we use certain knives to cut certain things (moral here is, get yourself a good chef’s knife and a paring knife and you’re set) followed by safety and care. He gave us tricks of the trade and our response to so many of his tricks was “Oh, duh…that totally makes sense.”

Then we got to chopping. We started with garlic (crush it first for easy chopping), then moved to green peppers (if you want to know the best way to chop a green pepper, let me know. This was seriously the most brilliant thing I learned from the class), followed by celery, carrots, zucchini and onions. Ron would show us how to julienne, dice, and cube and then walk around and view our work.

Clearly we had a good time

Clearly we had a good time

Now I know this technically isn’t a ‘cooking’ class, but chopping is the first step towards a good meal. This class is highly recommended by both my dad and me so if you’re curious about it, you should definitely pull the trigger.