Remember my creative birthday gift? Well, Carolyn came over this past weekend for our cooking day. (I felt this choice was more practical for me right now--maybe down the road, I will persue learning how to can.) We donned aprons (thanks, Erin!) and got to work. It was fun to be in the kitchen side-by-side and to learn lots of tips firsthand. I confess I've always let my mixer do all the kneading, but with making 2 double batches of bread, we definitely needed to be hands-on! Carolyn showed me how to knead, and also how to shape the loaves, which is something I always feel a little awkward doing.
Once everything was in the process of cooking or baking, we sat down at the computer so she could introduce me to our local grocery co-op. I've heard rumblings about it for years, but was never quite sure how it worked or who to talk to. Since Carolyn is one of the head officers, I definitely got the inside scoop! It doesn't work quite how I thought (prices are higher than I anticipated), but I'm glad to see what's available and may join in at some point.
There are obvious benefits of bulk cooking, but I was exhausted at the end of the afternoon! It was fun to work alongside someone else, though, and I was quite proud of what we made: 4 loaves of honey whole wheat bread, 4 loaves of oatmeal bread, 2 large batches of chicken and rice soup, 18 cups of cooked chicken (!), 16 cups of hearty chicken stock and 1 batch of granola! It was very rewarding seeing it all lined up on the shelf, as well as sitting down to a delicious supper of fresh soup and bread. Yum!
I think Carolyn had a nice afternoon, too. She has two daughters who both live far from home (sound familiar, Mom?!), so she said this was a neat opportunity for her. I appreciated her willingness to come over, and of course am grateful to Eric for having the idea in the first place--and for watching the kids so we could work without interruption (Wahoo!!)