Cooking stock

This Weekend with Bridget is a recurring column. Every week, she recommends a place to go or a way to have fun at home. Send her an email at bhigdon@orourkemediagroup.com.


This week’s adventure: Make use of this time at home by participating in a Vermont-based cooking class, to sharpen your skills and lead a more well-rounded life.

What to know: Some places are offering virtual classes, allowing you to tune in from the comfort of your own kitchen, while others are offering in-person workshops for those looking to get out in a safe way.

My experience: Above the sink in my kitchen, I’ve hung a framed print of a Virginia Woolf quote that I believe to be true: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

It’s from her 1929 essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” which is dear to me for many reasons, including that so much of it can be applied to my life nearly 100 years later.

For every day of the last 11 months, there’s been a lot to think about and to lose sleep over. Much has tested our patience, our sense of hope and even our love — but the remedial power of cooking and dining well should not be underestimated.

As Sam Sifton, food editor at the New York Times, recently put it — cooking can help you better understand the world around you, and your place in it. Cooking is a road that leads to better, and you should drive it every day.

Many of us have already done so. During the pandemic, we’ve learned to bake sourdough and focaccia, to make fresh pasta and to pickle vegetables.

My mother, who was already a wonderful baker before COVID, has only improved during this time. She’s done so on her own, in her kitchen in New Jersey with the window that faces the street — but she’s also improved with others, through virtual baking classes.

On the day of her first class, she excitedly texted me photos of her set-up: the utensils she’d need lined up across the counter and the laptop propped up on a stack of books.

Afterwards, she called to tell me all about the scones and biscuits she made and about the instructor who kept the class fun and engaging.

I don’t blame you if you are tired of cooking. Many have been preparing three meals a day for the ones they love for a long time now. But between the closure of restaurants and doing work and school from home, we have an opportunity to come out of the pandemic better cooks than we were before.

Joining a weekend class might just be the meditative experience you need to not only get excited about cooking again, but to think, love and sleep well.

King Arthur Baking

When the pandemic first began, the King Arthur Baking School moved all of the classes it typically hosts at its flagship store in Norwich, Vermont to online.

Several years ago, my mother and I attended an in-person King Arthur class and had the best time. We learned to bake a half-dozen different kinds of cupcakes, with the icing and ganaches to match.

Just like in-person, during a virtual King Arthur class, you bake right along with the instructor. They help troubleshoot and talk you through all the techniques required for each step. After registering, you’ll receive an email that includes the recipes and a list of the necessary ingredients and equipment required.

Classes are available on a wide variety of topics, from cream puffs and eclairs to stromboli, pierogi, baguettes and more. Most classes are 1.5 hours and cost $40, though some are longer and more expensive.

The Essex Culinary Resort and Spa

If you need a break from Zoom, socially-distant in-person classes are currently being held at the Essex Culinary Resort and Spa in Essex, Vermont.

At it’s cooking academy, classes are small, so each student gets personalized instruction. Most include a three or four-course meal, and you get to take the recipes home with you.

Class offerings vary throughout the year depending on the season and availability of fresh ingredients. Currently, the academy is offering classes ranging from $59-98 in cake decorating, sushi-making and brunch, among others.

Other nearby places offering classes: City Market, the food co-op in Burlington, is offering free virtual classes several times a week. Go to citymarket.coop/calendar to learn more.

Lisa Ruoff, an organic chef from Grand Isle and former owner of the cooking school and catering service Faywood Gardens, is hosting virtual classes for $40 per person upon request. Read about her services here: lisaruoff.com/organic-chef.

Written By

Staff Writer

Bridget Higdon is a Staff Writer. She was previously the editor-in-chief of The Vermont Cynic, UVM's independent newspaper. She’s been published in Seven Days, Editor & Publisher and Vermont Vacation Guide. She likes to cook and explore Vermont by bike.

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