Classes serve up new ways to cook
By Darren Lum
Ever since Jay McIvor was 14, he’s loved to eat. He parlayed this passion for food to his culinary journey allowing him to enrich his life with the flavours of the world.
As SIRCH Community Services’s chef, McIvor is inviting people of all ages to broaden their horizons and learn more about cooking, including safe practices addressing food intolerances and allergies at the upcoming Community Cooking Classes.
McIvor said he wants to “bring ideas to people who would otherwise be uninspired or lacking in general knowledge to prepare meals. I’m going to keep it very simple. I may introduce a packaged meal and show them how to kind of modify it.”
One example was mac ‘n’ cheese. Add some broccoli and you will not only introduce a new flavour, but help bolster the nutrient content of the dish.
The classes are a partnership between SIRCH Community Services and the municipalities of Dysart et al and Minden Hills, through the Senior County Grant Program.
The classes are held in Haliburton and Minden, alternating each week starting on Friday, Jan. 10 and finishing on March 27. The first session begins on Friday, Jan. 10 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with “Cooking Healthy on a Budget” in Haliburton. The same class will be held in Minden on Friday, Jan. 17 with “Cooking Healthy on a Budget – it IS possible!”
Other classes include “Special Diets: Gluten Free, Dairy-free Cooking”; “Special Diets: Plant-based Cooking”; “Cooking for Guys (men and boys only)”; and two “Cooking for the Week – make it here, take it home” classes. Classes will be capped at 10 participants and are offered for free.
At 55, McIvor remembers how his own culinary horizon was broadened by necessity when he first lived on his own and was dating a woman who was a vegetarian. It prompted him to learn how to cook and cater to his and his partner’s taste preferences.
“She said she was a vegetarian, but it turned out she was a carbohydraterian. It was like mac ‘n’ cheese every meal. ‘Well, no, you’ve got to add vegetables.’ And that was one of the things I was going to offer the men [in the class], adding vegetables in mac ‘n’ cheese just as an idea because it was one of the first things I showed her,” he said.
He also used his skills and knowledge to create vegetarian menus for a restaurant. He trained with chefs of German, Japanese and Thai backgrounds. Some of his professional background includes cooking vegetarian and vegan meals starting in 2004, including gluten-free dishes at YMCA Wanakita. He said he is a regular traveller, having visited Asia more than once, returning to add those flavours to his cooking repertoire.
Anyone interested in saving money is best served by a vegetarian diet since buying meat is more costly, which is an aspect to the “Special Diets” class, he said.
Another area the classes will help with is how to interpret the ingredient lists, reading between the lines to find what might trigger allergies. One example is pea protein, which can be problematic for some people.
Other additions such as spices can enhance and bring flavour to an otherwise uninspiring dish.
“I’m hoping in showing them how to use spices and what not it’ll even inspire them to move on from whatever they’re eating,” McIvor said.
All sessions in Haliburton are held at SIRCH Central at 2 Victoria Street.
Pre-register by contacting Andrea Mueller at 705-457-1740 ext. 635 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All sessions in Minden held at the Minden Hills Community Centre at 55 Parkside Street.
Pre-register by contacting Elisha Weiss at 705-286-2808 or email her at email@example.com.