“I really like supporting farms, I just don’t know what to cook,” is an explanation we often get from people who are resistant to signing up for a season-long CSA commitment. And we get that, really. It can be hard to think of what to do when the season’s tenth bunch of Swiss chard shows up in your box, let alone a head of radicchio (what’s that?) or a bulbous celeriac root. Becoming a member of a CSA will challenge you to cook outside of your comfort zone—when the ingredients come to you, it’s up to you to find ways to enjoy them.
Feeling empowered to cook your way through a set of unfamiliar (or even just not-your-favorite) ingredients is one of the great benefits you might experience as a first-year CSA member. And there are plenty of resources to help you get there. One of the best available in Seattle is a series of weekly CSA cooking classes offered at Book Larder, a community cookbook store in Fremont. These classes—a Wednesday lunch class and Friday evening four-course dinner class—have been offering great food and wonderful instruction in Book Larder’s warm environment since the beginning of our CSA season.
Book Larder’s CSA classes are lively and engaging. As a member of the audience, you choose the level to which you want to be involved. You can watch and ask questions or jump in and join chef Kyle Wisner in any step of the food preparation. Kyle is Book Larder’s Culinary Director and has years of experience in some of Seattle’s top restaurants—The Corson Building, Le Pichet, The London Building, and Sitka and Spruce—and a knack for teaching how to make truly spectacular dishes in ways that seem totally approachable to amateur cooks.
On Friday, August 28, Kyle turned his Week 11 OxBox into a four-course dinner for five: A cabbage and carrot slaw with tangy cilantro aioli, whole-roasted baby beets with charred cherry tomatoes, seared cucumber and zucchini with spiced lamb, and a peach crumble with bay cream. Class-goers share each dish family-style as Kyle begins his preparation of the next. The vibe is casual and the food is delicious.
Kyle preps for class by writing, printing, and binding recipes for the night’s dishes, so everyone leaves class with a booklet to help remember what was cooked and how to cook it. Kyle shares his cooking theory and techniques in highly understandable terms and none of the dishes called for extraordinarily rare or expensive ingredients. Throughout the class, he continually stressed the power of simple ingredients.
You can read more about Book Larder’s amazing community programs here.
This article appeared in our newsletter September 14. Sign up to receive it.