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© 2000 by Anne Freidanck

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June 19, 2008

Cooking with young friends

Val’s Vegetarian LasagneIn this day and age of fast food, “out of the freezer and straight into the microwave” frozen pizzas and that “big M” hamburger joint, it would be easy to say that buying fresh vegetables and putting a meal together from scratch is more out of fashion than ever, especially with young people. But it seems that there is some light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a popular new wave of TV cooking shows with young, dynamic cooks such as Jamie Oliver and Germany’s Tim Mälzer doing some very entertaining stuff with a whole variety of fresh ingredients. Hopefully, it’s now becoming “cool to cook”!

Recently, my friend Werner told me that his 20-year old son, Valentin had moved into a communal flat with some friends. I have known Valentin and his sister Anna since they were born and have enjoyed watching them grow up into the open, kind and interesting young people they’ve become. The times they’ve come to visit me have been great – we’ve cooked together, talked about what’s going on in their lives or just hung out watching a movie. Valentin is also a very talented singer/songwriter who keeps me up to date on what’s going on in the modern music world … and who also loves to browse my CD collection when he visits.

So what to give a young adult moving into his first flat away from home? I came up with the idea of offering Valentin, his two flat-mates Johnny & Sebastian and Anna a cooking class, not really expecting them to take me up on it. But to my surprise they loved the idea so the dilemma was, what to teach them that would be nutritious, tasty and above all, easy to make.

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After a few eMails back and forth, we came up with the following menu:

And, of course, some essential party food:

Some recipes that were considered but, due to time constraints, left for another occasion:

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ValentinIt was a bit crowded in the kitchen, but all of them got involved in chopping veggies, making salsa, putting the Lasagna and Crumble together and cleaning up the kitchen as we went along. Things have certainly changed since my commune days when it was usually considered square to want a clean and orderly cooking space. Of course, even then no-one objected to having someone around was square enough to keep cleaning up!

After about 2 hours in the kitchen, we sat down to our 4-course meal and rolled away from the table about an hour later. During dinner, we made tentative plans for our next joint venture: the Indian cuisine including an Indian spice and ingredient shopping trip.

For me, it was a delight to have my kitchen taken over by such great young people and I hope that they were able to learn something as well. Thanks to all of them for their enthusiasm and appetites and especially to Johnny and Sebastian for the superbly cleaned-up kitchen!

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Weights, Measures & Temperatures

Some of the ingredients in the recipes are given in grams, some in US cups, depending on the source. Very confusing, I know, for all of you not as fanatic as me – my kitchen is full to overflowing with all kinds of gadgets and measuring cups/spoons/jars in every possible denomination! As far as possible, I will try to provide measurements in both cups and grams but, lest I fail, here two conversion pages: &