What was I thinking?
For Ruth's birthday this year I gave her cooking lessons! It wasn't as bad an idea as it sounded! In fact, it was a huge success!
A little background is needed. As most of the guests at Brewster House know, Ruth is a wonderful cook, loves looking for new recipes, and daily prepares a terrific breakfast. However, unknown to most, she has always struggled with yeast breads. We've had the bread machine, still not much success. At least nothing we wanted to serve to guests.
One of the cookbooks we use frequently comes from the Culinary Institute of America. That's what gave me the idea. I knew they offered "Boot Camp" classes, and discovered that one of the classes offered in November was a full-day boot camp on "Hearth Bread". I enrolled her in the class and presented the enrollment confirmation as her birthday present, several weeks ahead of the class. She was excited!
I had sought advice from friends who live not far from the CIA's Hyde Park, NY campus and have attended a class there. They agreed that this should be a good class, and offered to put us up for the weekend. We gratefully accepted and drove to NY on Friday night. Saturday I dropped Ruth off at the class and went of with our friends to do a bit of local sightseeing.
I returned at the end of the day to pick up Ruth, who was just finishing the class. She was beaming, and carrying several loaves of fresh-baked bread! The chef who was the instructor had made it all easy, and was very clear in his instructions. They had learned to make ciabatta bread, challa bread, french bread, pizza dough, and more! Ruth was so excited she couldn't stop telling us about the techniques they had covered, and her plans to use the breads with her breakfasts.
Almost as an afterthought, we spent Sunday touring the area, and visiting some of the mansions of the Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, and other wealthy families of the early part of the 1900's.
All in all, we had a wonderful weekend getaway, and the "cooking lessons" were a huge success!