Friday, January 20, 2012

if you don't know, now you know: Rush's Kitchen Supply Co.

This is a big deal. I just wanted to let you know that up front. 
This is the place in town that I love more than just about anywhere else.
More than the museum. More than our sad, little mall. Way, way more than Walmart. 
I'd say it's tied with the library.
(I'm sorry, but it's hard to beat free books, and lots of them.)
When I was a newlywed living in a small home in Rexburg, Idaho just over seven years ago, I began to realize that I really enjoyed cooking. And, like many things that I have discovered a passion for throughout my life, I realized that I didn't just want to be an okay cook. I wanted to be the best. Ever. 
...okay, probably not EVER ever. But still, I wanted to figure out the tricks to making meals that people would "oooh" and "aaah" and "mmmmm" over. You know, What About Bob-style.
So I became a Food Network junkie, began collecting cook books, forced my grandmother into a yearly Christmas Candy Making lesson/session (Best time ever. Don't be jealous.), and started Googling (with fingers crossed tightly) "Idaho Falls Cooking Class".
The first hit was something called Rush's Kitchen Supply Co. And it was a winner.
By the way, thank you Google. 
 Rush's, located right off of Broadway in downtown, is an Idaho Falls landmark, established in 1910 by the current owner's great-grandfather! Such a cool place with an amazing history.
Anyway, since I was a wee twenty-year-old I have been attending about one class per year at Rush's, my favorite place in town (You know I love you, library. Don't be like that). In these classes I have learned how to develop sauces, make a roux, truss a chicken, build a complex salad, make specialty pastas, sear and braise meats, make knock-your-socks-off French desserts such as eclairs, cream puffs, pastry cream, quiches, and tarts, use a knife to julienne, slice, dice and keep all 10 fingers in tact, sauté... the list is long and the results, with a little practice, have been magnificent.
Yeah, I even made this cream puff swan. So what? Big deal? It's not like it's that impressive. 
Just kidding. It totally is.
And I haven't even attended all of the classes Rush's has to offer! Like the ones that teach you to make authentic Mexican cuisine, or the summer BBQ class, or the fish class! This list is endless, too. And even if you aren't competitive in your desire to amp up the flavors in your kitchen like this obnoxious blogger, you will have the time of your life learning new skills and "Think[ing] Like a Chef" (the title of Rush's line of basic cooking technique classes). 

So, if you are interested in getting in on one of the coolest experiences out town has to offer, here's how attending a class at Rush's works: 
The class schedule is emailed out to everyone on their email list about one week before sign-ups are available. Then, when it is sign up day, you call in, put your name down for whichever class, give your credit card info, and write it on your calendar. Now, one of these classes will set you back $75, and getting in is super-competitive because of the high demand and low class size (in fact, I debated blogging about Rush's for quite a while. It's hard enough to get into a class there as it is!! But then I comforted myself with the fact that just about no one reads this blog. I'm safe!). But sitting by your phone and calling in as soon as the clock hits 8:58 a.m. (I just never can wait until 9) and shelling out a little cash is so worth it. 
      When you arrive you will be given an apron with a name tag on it, a printed and spiral-bound book filled with recipes and tips for that day's class, and a good old Number 2 pencil. You will pull yourself up a stool around a large bar that surrounds the fully-functioning kitchen at which your hands-on demonstration will take place, grab yourself a huge muffin, bottle of water or espresso or can of soda (or two or three... sadly I usually fall off of the "No More Coke for Me" wagon when I attend class and down about three cans of it, but this time I managed to stick to water and only sort of regretted not popping open just one can of forbidden deliciousness [one wouldn't have hurt anyone, right? *fidget*twitch]), and get ready to learn and laugh and play. 
I attended the Appetizers Class taught by local chef and caterer Shane O'Dell, last Saturday, and this is the one picture I was able to sneak. It's not like cameras are not allowed- more like I am a chicken and didn't want to ruin the class by shoving my camera in people's faces. ...okay, it was mostly the chicken thing.
Each class is about three and a half hours long, usually from 10 a.m. to 1:30pm on a Saturday, and is always conducted by either a local chef or the owner of the store, Alex, who, quite frankly, is one of the coolest and nicest guys I have met here in town. Whether he is teaching or not, Alex is always there in class assisting the chef and making the students laugh. On Saturday we learned to make the most amazing appetizers (easily converted into full-size entrees), including curry chicken cups, salmon cakes with jicama and green apple slaw (pictured above- I made this recipe for some dinner guests last night and they went absolutely nuts for these spicy cakes with the cooling salad), and harissa chicken skewers with tzatziki dipping sauce.
The best part of class is the food. You eat everything that you make, either at the end of the class in a family-style free-for-all with your fellow classmates, or as each recipe is completed, as we did in this appetizers class. Often, too, I have wound up bringing leftovers home to show my husband and hear his gratuitous "MMMM"s. 
To a champion home cook like me, it's music to my ears.
Do your family, your neighbors and your ego a favor and sign up for Rush's cooking class mailing list. Just know that I will be there, too, jockeying for a spot along-side you for the best seat in the best place in town.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

bubbly


Isn't New Year's Eve the best? 
Resolutions. Parties. Glitter. Really rough first day of the new year afterward.
In Spain at midnight they eat twelve grapes (or so Martha Stewart tells me). One for each moth of the year. If your first grape is sour, you are going to have a sour January. If it's sweet... well, you get the picture. 
Mine were all Martinelli's soaked, but I've got to tell you, if the grapes have their way, it's going to be a good year. 
Happy New Year!