|Chef Molly Beverly displays some of the spices she uses to offer “real food” cooking courses in Chino Valley High School culinary classrooms.|
Chef Molly Beverly loves dirt. Outside in her vegetable garden, that is, not in her kitchen.
"To dig in dirt and pull weeds is very soothing," said Beverly, a 40-year Chino Valley resident, where, along with her husband, Gary, they have a three-acre, small-scale farm.
From the time they bought their farm, the couple has organically grown their own vegetables and, some years, have sold their plentiful garlic harvest. Beverly also studies and enjoys wild edible plants. Her kitchen cupboards are full of spices from around the world. So what do gardeners do with all their fresh-grown food? Cook it and eat it, of course.
What Beverly really loves is teaching, a way of passing her passion for food on to others for healthy living - from the ground to the gut, so to speak, and a healthy gut at that. She avoids using the term "natural" foods because she says today's society uses it too broadly, so she calls the fresh, unprocessed ingredients she cooks with "real food."
During her career, Beverly has taught cooking classes with an emphasis on "real food" at both Yavapai College and Prescott College. As Prescott College Food Service Director and founder and chef of the Crossroads Cafe, she built the food service into a showcase of sustainable, educational and tasty food, and from where she retired this past June.
Not missing a beat after retirement, Beverly lined up through Yavapai College Community Education five upcoming cooking classes - two at Prescott High School's classroom kitchens (Italian and Spanish cuisine), one at Chino Valley High School culinary classrooms (food fermentation) and two that will be at both Prescott and Chino campuses during different sessions (baking bread and making tamales). The classes are open to anyone in the community.
The first Chino Valley class will be "Cooking Crash Course: Baking Bread," from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., March 29, CVHS, at 760 E. Center Street.
The class description states, "Get an introduction to a multitude of variations and the chance to be hands on and in-the-dough. The process of mix, knead, rise, shape and bake can begin! Recipes and samples of all breads included." Cost of the course is $70.
On March 31, Beverly's second Chino class will be "Cooking Crash Course: Tamales!" from 5:50-9:30 p.m. Students will learn to make homemade tamales, a Mexican staple made from corn masa, combined with chili and meat or other ingredients. Beverly's tamales are gluten-free and her varieties include red chile, green chile, chicken jalapeño, green corn, tomatillo fish, vegan mushroom, pineapple coconut and sweet bean. Students will get recipes and taste samples. Cost of the class is $70.
For her third Chino class, Beverly will spend two days, April 14 and April 28, 5:30-8:30 p.m., teaching the concepts and basic techniques of fermentation, one of the oldest forms of food preservation.
She includes in-class experiments and fermentation "homework" with such foods as: fruit salad, mead, ginger beer, kombucha, shrub, yogurt, fermented beans, sourdough, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, kosher dills and dilly beans.
The second class includes analysis of assignments, more experimentation and a fermentation buffet. Foods in this class are gluten free. For this class, Beverly recommends the book, "The Art of Fermentation" by Sandor Katz. Cost of this class, not including the book, is $90.
Besides teaching, Beverly, who has college degree in English, found outlets for her writing talents over the years. Locally, she authored the column "Chino Cooks" and "A Cook's Diary" for the Chino Valley Review from 1987-1991. She continues to write for local and state food publications and currently is working on a book, "Crossroads Cafe Cookbook."
As Chair of Slow Food Prescott, Beverly encourages local growers, supports sustainable food education, and provides catering that features local, historical and ethnic foods.
Contact the college at 717-7755 or visit www.yc.edu/commed to register for one of Beverly's courses, where people also can get course dates, times and descriptions for Beverly's cooking courses held at Prescott High School.