While the final product (chicken, cornbread and pimento cheese) wasn't the fanciest meal, it certainly helped show parents and their kids how easy pulling together a delicious meal doesn't have to take hours in the kitchen.
My friends at Southern Season, a gourmet cooking school and food store in Mount Pleasant are giving away a FREE holiday gift basket (a $60 value) to one lucky Grits & Chopsticks/Charleston GRIT reader! Click here for details on how to enter.
Last month while we were in Charleston, my five-year-old son and I stopped by Southern Season, a gourmet food store and cooking school in Mount Pleasant. I've been by Southern Season before when we used to live in Charleston, but I'd never had the chance to try out one of their cooking classes. As it turns out, Southern Season occasionally offers kid-friendly cooking classes, and since Ge Ge loves to help me out in our kitchen at home, I thought he'd love to try a real, live cooking class. Off we went to Kids Lowcountry, a class taught by resident chef Lisa Love. At the class, we'd learn how to make pimento cheese with cornbread buttons, baked barbecue chicken and cherry cheesecake parfaits.
We arrived pretty early for our class, which, in retrospect, was probably a misstep on my part. Since my son is just a kindergartener, and, as any parent knows, attention spans drain pretty quickly in that age group. At first, he was just as excited as I was to explore the store -- running around, quite literally, like a kid in a candy store. But after awhile, he got antsy and wanted the class to start.
Who could blame him? The cooking school is a huge, brightly-lit room with modern appliances and gorgeous white cabinetry with marble countertops. Imagine a dream kitchen, and then multiply that by three, and you're approaching the massive size of this room. It's very impressive, even for young kids.
Within a few minutes, we were all engaged in a variety of tasks, from whisking together ingredients to make the barbecue sauce to adjusting the seasoning in the pimento cheese. Chef Love, along with a crew of volunteers, did a great job of helping kids find tasks that suited their ages and skill levels. The age range in our class among the kids varied quite a bit, but I could tell right away that my son was by far the youngest participant. In retrospect, I think he might need a few years before he really gets into cooking classes. It was hard for him to reach the countertops without a stool to see what he was doing, and he's a little bit hesitant to be around the stove. The older kids were very involved in every step of the process, even blackening a red bell pepper directly over the gas flame on the stove.
The most impressive part of the class was not only how efficiently we moved through each step of the recipes we made, but also how amazingly simple and easy everything was to make. Cornbread "buttons" (or mini cornbread muffins) were mixed and baked in less than 15 minutes, and the kids all had a hand in whipping up a pimento cheese spread in no time. Even the baked barbecued chicken roasted in the oven in under 20 minutes. While the final product (chicken, cornbread and pimento cheese) wasn't the fanciest meal, it certainly helped show parents and their kids how easy pulling together a delicious meal doesn't have to take hours in the kitchen.
Of course, like any young kid, my son's favorite part was making dessert. He loved crushing the pepper kakor (ginger cookies) in a plastic bag and layering parfait cups with cherry pie filling, creamy cheesecake and crumbled cookie crust. I stuck to our normal deal and didn't let him have dessert until he'd eaten all of his cornbread and most of the chicken, which he happily did. That cheesecake parfait was so worth it.