Oh girl, I got class. Well, I had class. It's gone now, but it was glorious while it lasted.
The class I had was 45 minutes of nonstop Gourmet Easy-Bake Oven instruction where I learned tips that even applied to non-Easy-Baking.
And now for the question of the century (not an exaggeration). Can you really cook in an Easy-Bake oven? Yes. Yes, you can. But why would you?
Well, for fun, mainly. But also to learn something, which also can be fun if you do it right. That's the goal for schoolclass, the brainchild of John Neel, who's bringing the series of quirky DIY classes to the masses. Taught by volunteers, the program is loosely based on HourSchool in Austin, except in Austin people host the classes at their houses.
I asked Neel what he thinks this DIY explosion is all about, and he summed it up nicely: "Because our generation made it cool."
DIY sprung up a long time ago for a whole bunch of reasons -- it's less expensive, the thing you want isn't commercially produced or it's produced poorly, you can make exactly what you want or empower the crap out of yourself by tapping into your inner Bob Villa ... that hairy son-of-a-bitch. But Neel's reason is the most legit: DIY is in because the results are cool these days. It's not the dumpy old knitted toilet paper cover with the half-doll sticking out the top.
Of course, DIY goes beyond crafting and cooking. The other classes offered this week were Rain Water Catchment and Earn a Paycheck as a Creative. One hippie-dippie (and helpful) and one that set you on a path of making them big bucks ($5) working as a full-time creative. Which is one other reason DIY went boom. We're finally the people who will raise our hands and say, "I don't know how to do that, but you do, will you show me?" Our parents wouldn't dare ask for help, and our grandparents? Hell, they'd just as soon shoot you as look at you. (Oh, I'm the only one with murder-y grandparents?) But seriously, if you know how to do something, raise your hand, too, and teach. Sign up to add your class to the curriculum at schoolclass.hourschool.com.
But back to me having class. So, what's it like learning to cook with an Easy-Bake Oven?
Class began a few minutes after 7:15 p.m. Wednesday and our cooking curriculum was an aggressive one -- flourless vanilla bean cake, strawberry-Infused vodka with basil and lemon, and summer rolls if time permitted. It didn't, but daaamn girl, I like where your head is at. The girl I'm referring to is Lisa Coats, our instructor and professionally trained chef. She's still in training, in fact, and will graduate this December from Art Institute. She also trained at Le Cordon Bleu so, you know, she's making the rounds. Baby got bake. No? Too much? Annnyway ... Coats took us through the process of making a flourless cake, which included tips like never crack an egg directly into your batter -- crack it into a bowl then pour it into the batter one egg at a time -- how to scrape vanilla bean and the fact that almond flour isn't flour at all. It's finely, finely chopped almonds. (Rejoice celiacs!)
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While the cakes were Easy-Baking, the students sliced strawberries and cut lemons in half as Coats talked us through infusing vodka. (You pretty much put sliced fruit in vodka and leave it alone for a few hours.) To complete the cocktail, Coats muddled basil at the bottom of a pitcher, poured in the infused vodka, added lemon juice and topped it with TopoChico, a bubbly carbonated beverage that's very trendy lately.
I didn't want to wreck my Mountain Dew palatte, so I skipped the beverage, but I have a functioning brain so I ate the cake. It was delicious. Mind you, the one we ate was the one Coats made earlier with a real oven. (She knows what's up.)
Neel's covering schoolclass expenses out of his own pocket, though the series is temporary, and the lease on the space at 1222 W. Davis St. in Oak Cliff is up in February. Neel wanted it to be just like real school with a sweet, sweet graduation day in sight. There are still a few more months and even a field trip complete with a rented school bus. Later this month, the gang will head out to Radiolab, so monitor the website to sign up. (Like schoolclass on Facebook, too, because Mark Zuckerberg demands it.