Guest post by marmalade novice and first-time Demuths student Emily LW Kern.
This past Sunday I attended my first class at the cookery school. I've been helping Rachel with social media projects for a few months, so it was great to finally visit and see everything in action. Still, ahead of time I had some questions about this marmalade-making day: Will they notice that I don't know how to handle a knife? Will I still be trying to figure out the range settings while everyone else is holding up glistening jars of marmalade? Do I even like marmalade enough to dedicate an entire day to it? In case you are concerned on my behalf, I can assure you that I had an absolutely lovely experience. And here's why:
Room with a View
The first thing I noticed as I entered the cookery school was how open and light everything feels. Even on a grim February morning there was a positive glow to the place. If you have the winter blues, this is the perfect spot for a hint of spring-to-come. The second thing I noticed was the stunning view of the cathedral as you walk up the stairs. I would have been content sitting on the steps all day with a cup of tea. Happily, the cooking area also has a lovely large window towards Bath and its hills.
I don't live in the Bath area, so it was a great way to see the city from a new angle. The only time I'd been here before was on holiday with my mother. We visited museums, restaurants, and (of course) the spa - but in future I will start looking at cookery courses as a travel option. We would have had a terrific time creating food together in such a relaxing and beautiful spot.
Making Food, Making Friends
One of my strongest impressions from this day of marmalade-making is that cooking classes are great for friends, old and new. Some people showed up solo, some with a companion. My friend and I decided to partner up with someone we didn't already know, which was lots of fun. My new marmalade-friend and I shared the excitement of "wrinkle tests" and the joy of a perfectly gelled jar of sunshiny marmalade. And if there's a friend you haven't seen in awhile, I'd now strongly recommended getting together to make food rather than sit at a cafe and eat it. Making something together is really special.
Steady Does It
One of my concerns about attending a cookery class was that I don't have smooth moves in the kitchen. It was only a couple years ago that I started making real culinary efforts, and I'm not yet a confident cook. I was a little worried about lagging behind in comprehension or cutting up oranges, but all of these fears were put to rest immediately. If you're lucky enough to have met Christopher for a foraging or preserving class, you'll know how wonderfully patient, easy-going, and enthusiastic he is. And in general the Demuths approach seems to be calm, kindly, and thorough. Perfect for an absolute beginner.
I was also a bit nervous about spending the entire day making marmalade. My kitchen stamina is pretty low, usually good for a couple hours. But the time really did fly by, especially as we chatted over a lunch of borscht and fatayer pastries made by Rachel. (What a treat!) And then suddenly we had full jars of gorgeous marmalade and it was time to go home!
Tempting as it is to hibernate this time of year, I'm now so glad that I traveled a bit and tried something new. Making friends and learning skills in such a beautiful place will certainly be a highlight of this winter. Especially as I can literally enjoy the fruits of my labour for months to come! Whether you take away a pack of recipes or (lucky me!) six jars of marmalade, there will be tangible proof at the end of the day that you have accomplished something to be proud of. Thank you Christopher, Rachel, and new marmalade friends for a wonderful experience.
If you have any questions about the cookery school experience,
wrinkle tests (no, not our faces!), or Demuths social media,
please do let us know in the comments below.