These days, it’s hard to miss the renewed interest in canning and cooking, perhaps the most regarded of the domestic arts. The trend is showing up right at our doorsteps in jars of crisp pickles or berry delicious jams gifted by friends and neighbors. Those generous and industrious souls may be reading Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English. The Candler author is leading a new charge in homesteading with her Homemade Living series. And if she can do it, so can you. “It’s very, very easy,” says English. “These skills are like any good hobby. Get a good book—seriously, I’m not trying to self promote—and start learning,” she says. Author and cooking teacher Barbara Swell also has some advice for would-be cooks: “Spend time elbow-to-elbow with someone who can teach you—find a relative, neighbor, or friend.” Swell offers traditional classes, including pie making and hearth cooking, at her log cabin in East Asheville. “If someone gives you a jar of jam, ask them, ‘the next time you make some, can I come and learn from you?’ ” says Swell. Chances are, they’ll appreciate the company in the kitchen.
Photograph by Lynne Harty It’s hard to imagine a grandma who wouldn’t want to pinch Ashley English’s cheeks. Not just because she’s so gosh-darn adorable, but because she’s reintroducing the lost arts of canning, cooking, gardening, and other skills to younger folks. English is sharing her “big homemade living adventure,” as she describes it, with the world through her blog, smallmeasure.blogspot.com, and a series of books, including Keeping Chickens with Ashley English and Canning & Preserving with Ashley English (2010, Lark Books). From the 12-acre Candler farm she and her husband tend, English is demonstrating the deeper ties these skills bring through recipes, homesteading tips, and tales along the way. “When you do these things, they slow you down and connect you to your community,” she says. “I see this as a lifestyle people are embracing for the long haul.”
Aunt Barb’s Tuesday Night Supper Club East Asheville If you’re between 21 and 30-ish, and don’t have a grandmother, aunt, or parent nearby to show you the ropes in the kitchen, don’t fret. “Aunt Barb” and friends will teach you basic skills like when to measure and when to eyeball, how to select and use various small kitchen appliances and cookware, how to enhance flavors with spices and herbs, and strategies for shopping at local farmers markets and grocery stores. You’ll need to bring a recipe scrapbook with you because real recipes are written out by hand. • September 14, 6-9 p.m.: Apples & Pears (appetizer, salad, meat, and dessert) • October 5, 6-9 p.m.: Cooking with Fall Harvest Vegetables (winter squash, kale, root veggies, and nuts) • November 2, 6-9 p.m.: Pie! Pumpkin, Pecan, and Lemon Cake-Pie • December 7, 6-9 p.m.: Hosting a Holiday Party Class size is limited to eight. Deadline for registration is one week prior to class. 109 Bell Rd.; $10; (828) 298-2270; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.nativeground.com John C. Campbell Folk School Brasstown Through the fall, winter, and spring the school is offering a range of culinary classes, including Scottish Hearth Cooking, Cooking New Orleans style, Forks & Corks: Cooking with Wine, and Soups & Breads. Visit www.folkschool.org, or call (828) 837-2775 for a full schedule. Saturday’s Kitchen with Mark Rosenstein Asheville September 11 & October 2 Meet up with Chef Mark Rosenstein at 8 a.m. at the North Asheville Tailgate Market at UNC Asheville to shop for the day’s class materials. From 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., he’ll teach basic preparations for a week’s menu to feed four. The lessons impart basic cooking techniques, such as braising, roasting, making purées, and how to handle fresh produce. Visit Rosenstein’s blog, French Broad: Lessons from an Appalachian Table, www.thefrenchbroad.com, for more information and additional classes. Heritage Food Class: Pickles Robbinsville September 23 Cucumbers are great, but you can learn to pickle beets, okra, pears, squash, and even peaches during this class, one of several heritage cooking classes offered here. Stecoah Valley Cultural Center, 121 Schoolhouse Rd.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-noon; $20; (828) 479-3364; www.stecoahvalleycenter.com