Cooking for Fun and Feeding

Whether you're a foodie* or not, try looking to cooking for flavor-packed fun. Cooking is more than just a necessary skill — it can be a social opportunity, a stress reliever, a creative outlet, or a possible career.

You may have been inspired to cook by a family member or by celebrity chefs like Alton Brown, Rachael Ray, and the Ace of Cakes' Duff Goldman. Either way, you have loads of options to hone your culinary prowess:

  • Culinary camp: Summer camp has gone way beyond s'mores and wiener roasts. At cooking camp, you learn about how food grows; nutrition; how to shop for ingredients; and, of course, how to cook for yourself and for the family. Both day and sleepover camps are available, and they get more popular every year.
  • Cooking podcasts and webcasts: If you don't have time for magazines and books, then podcasts and webcasts are a convenient way to learn about recipes, global cuisines, ingredients, techniques, and more. Here's a delectable sampling of podcasts to explore: EatFeedBon AppetitThe Kitchen Window, and Spatulatta (this one's just for kids).
  • After-school chef school: You can find after-school cooking programs at specialty food stores, the local YMCA or Boys & Girls Club, area cooking schools, and community centers.
  • Your own cooking club: By starting a cooking club, you can devote your efforts to a single area like baking, or vegetarian dishes, or even casseroles. You can have a theme of the month; cook in each other's kitchens; shop together; discuss food trends; and trade tools and equipment. Throw a yearly "recital" that showcases all that you've learned, and invite friends and family to share the bounty (and to heap praises upon you!).

With resources like The Food Network, the Internet, and beautiful books and magazines, it's easier than ever to learn about other cultures through their food. By cooking with older family members, you may even find out about your own culture, and rediscover family ties as you share a meal at the table.

*You know you're a foodie if . . .

  • A KitchenAid mixer tops your wish list.
  • You know what amuse bouche and mise en place mean.
  • You have stacks of cookbooks next to your bed (and cooking magazines in the bathroom!).
  • You DVR cooking shows.
  • Your idea of shopping nirvana consists of stores like William-Sonoma, Sur la Table, and restaurant supply stores.
  • You have a collection of menus from your favorite restaurants.