NORTH DELTA â€” Vanessa Skelton brought her boyfriend Shawn to the kitchen so they could share quality time.
â€œItâ€™s a date night for us,â€ she said with a laugh, â€œand then we get to take the recipes home and cook for our parents when they come over.â€
Frances McGratten claims she â€œcame for the camaraderie and stayed for the great food.â€
And Raymond Mackie â€“ notable not just for his decade as a North Delta Lion but also because his grandparents pioneered the municipality â€“ admits freely that learning to cook isnâ€™t his only driving force. He also wants to meet people. And, you know, maybe even â€œfind a woman.â€
Everyone has their reasons, but one thing is certain: The gang at Veronica Cowanâ€™s Community Kitchen program is having a blast.
Last Tuesday (June 24), they made meatballs in goulash sauce â€“ completely from scratch and loaded with fresh, healthy ingredients.
At least that was the intention.
Halfway through the process, McGratten noticed all the onions disappeared into the meatball mixture, leaving no onion-y goodness for the sauce.
Soon, amidst much frivolity and a constant hum of conversation, appropriate alterations were made and the meatballs become meat sauce.
The program is very much a freewheeling groupthink, the antithesis of TVâ€™s Hellâ€™s Kitchen. And Cowan wouldnâ€™t have it any other way.
Held on the last Tuesday of each month at the rented kitchen facility of North Deltaâ€™s New Hope Church, the Community Kitchen, said Cowan, â€œis a place where you can cook and learn how to stretch your budget in a social atmosphereâ€ â€“ an apt description.
Enrollment is restricted to what the kitchen can physically support (eight people fill it up rather nicely), and the minimal fee of $5 allows participants to not only come to terms with slicing versus dicing and Spanish versus Hungarian paprika, but to also realize the importance of a clean workspace and the benefits of healthy eating.
Regular attendee Ashley Burwash, for example, who admits to a lifetime of bad diet and hospital visits because of it, credits Cowan and the program for helping her shed an impressive amount of weight and, in her words, â€œbringing me back to life.â€
At the end of each session, participants are encouraged to take copious quantities of each mega-meal home with them. Or, theyâ€™re welcome to stick around and dine with their â€œclassmates.â€ Many do. And the laughs and the conversations continue.
A second monthly installment of the Community Kitchen will be considered if its popularity continues, Cowan said.
The program is an offshoot of Milieu Family Services, which works with adults with developmental disabilities, â€œbut for regular folks who want to get on better terms with their kitchen,â€ Cowan emphasized. For details, call 778-438-3045. New Hope Church is at 11838 88th Ave.