Sat 2 Dec, 2006 02:05 pm
A Denver group cooks up a clever meal-sharing plan.
By Laura Daily
What's for dinner? For a quick and easy answer that's more satisfying than dialing up Domino's, consider starting a dinner co-op. By exchanging home-cooked, frozen meals, members can enjoy tasty dishes with minimal hassle.
"I was worn out by the idea of cooking every night," says Jana Miller, who founded Denver's Highland Dinner Co-op in February. She contacted like-minded pals to gather monthly and swap healthful dishes like coq au vin and crab cakes. There are up to 14 co-op cooks who prepare meals at home, making whatever they choose. The only rules: Use organic ingredients whenever possible, shop locally and freeze portions in zip-lock bags. Each participant brings two frozen servings per person (in Miller's group, that's 28 servings), plus extra for "tasting" during a freewheeling social hour.
Members dish out $80 to $95 per month, depending on the recipes. John Skrabec, known for his gourmet Greek-style salmon, is happy to participate in a little culinary one-upmanship. "There is always something interesting in the freezer," he says.
Inspired to start a dinner co-op? Miller's recipe for success: Keep the group small, seek participants without limited palates, and set portion size to avoid skimpy meals. "Dinner used to be a spirit-buster," she says. "Now it's a spirit lifter."
Do you have a link for this, BBB?
I admit to skepticism... you're tired and drear, so you sign up and get to make something delightful that you package into 28 servings? Er, no thanks. (I make nice salmon dishes too, but really, that seems something I don't want to get into doing for 14.) Plus paying X dollars a month?
How do they weed out the miserable cooks? Take me, for example... I just forgot to add the butter into the batter for the walnut bread (with cocoa, cranberries soaked in apple juice, and raisins, plus orange juice and orange peel). Not a complete waste, as one can butter the nutbread before putting it in the toaster oven, and that gives me a clue that one can add absolutely no oil or fat and have a nutbread turn out ok...
but if I was making that for fourteen, I'd be outta luck.
When I lived in California, we had a cooking club. At Christmas time, everyone baked a large batch of great cookies and brought them to the host's home. All cookies were placed on a large table. Club members circled the table, taking samples of each variety of cookies.
You arrived with one kind of cookie and left with perhaps 30 or 40 different kinds of cookies. Lots of fun.
BBB- Yeah, but that was once a year. I certainly would not want to cook for an "army" on a regular basis.
I might consider cooking twice a month for 28 in exchange for eating something different every single day (if I could cook, that is). Even with a restaurant full of food and decent selection of Chefs to choose from, one can still long for a home cooked meal, believe me. I don't understand why those of you who can/do have to cook every day wouldn't find that interesting... I too would like a link. I do make a few things very well... on the occasions that I do.
I started a Supper Club at the community for which I work as the activities director. One Sunday evening per month (usually the last) everyone brings one dish to share and we sample a little of everything. On a low attendance night we might have 10 different dishes, but on a night when 60-80 people are in attendance we get a lovely variety.
There are no rules, so on occasion someone will bring a box of Bojangles or a pizza. But, there's always something for each course, including dessert. We catch up on what each other is doing, meet new neighbors and don't have to cook a complete meal.
One concern a resident raised was that they wouldn't attend because they didn't know how clean everyones kitchen is. So far, no one has gotten sick, and I don't really worry about it for myself. I was raised in a barn. Stomach of steel.
I see, said the blind man.