KITCHEN interest you?

It totally depends upon the reason you may have for joining.
What a difference a many years can make.
This teamwork project has turned out to be a great
example of a successful community project achievement.
Once upon a time (about 20 years ago)...
...an accounting of MY experience.

Cooking together
Ahh...a warm connotation, by which many have experienced.

photos: from the Association's web site

However, unfortunately many years ago...
my experience was not memorable...
it was more so a sort of aggravation to say the least.
Was it my state of mind?  
Was I too much of an independent cook?
Or was it simply a major disorganized mess?!?

There had been many disagreements on how things should be done.  Too many chefs in the kitchen as they say.  There did not seem to be any interest towards healthy eating practices.  In addition...I could not help but feel like I was the only one concerned with hygienic food preparation.  There were no clear directives...well, at least not in this particular 'Collective Kitchen'. Some were very evidently doing all the work (yours truly)...while others took the selfish opportunity to turn it into an afternoon social club.

This is not what I thought I had signed up for.
I was truly under the impression that one goal was to be achieved here: to FOOD SHOP...PREP...COOK/ BAKE...PACKAGE...and TaTa...until the next kitchen gathering.  I had not gone there to socialize or have a need to make friends.  This may seem unfriendly to most...however in my weak defence...I was sticking to my focus of trying out this kitchen for one reason only...meal preparation!  Or...was I...do I dare admit...too self-centered?

Which begged the question...was cooking with a group truly worth my time? 
I was really testing out the theory and criteria guidelines that were promised:
. to cook efficiently...thus, no wasting of my otherwise valuable time.
. to achieve substantial savings...every dollar saved was great.

Thinking back...
I could only wonder if my expectations were too high. 
Was I that hard to please?
Was this project still to much in its infancy stage? 
As I was in the midst of it all...I clearly felt as an outcast of sorts.
Was I taking this too seriously?
In hindsight...I probably was.
That was then...this is now
Let me skip ahead a few years...
Now we are many years into this community project...
hard economic times has nudged people to
look at other ways to do better with their budgets.

In the last year alone...
the popularity of this collaborative project has
apparently increased over 280% to form 1400 groups.
Now, that's either impressive or quite frankly worrisome.
I was quite frankly astonished at this fact. 

I had to question myself on this and more.
Was I too hasty in my judgement?
I decided it was time to re-visit their
website and see what's been up with them:
It now clearly states:
For a group “that’s more than just cooking”...
Collective kitchens are about more than just good food...
They allow us to:
. Break out of loneliness and isolation
. Build self-confidence
. Encourage initiative
.Value self-sufficiency and empowerment
.Value, acquire and share our knowledge
. Gain experience working on projects as a group
. Build a network for helping each other, etc.
One Unit, One Path...

OK then...I guess the socializing etc. part appealed to a lot more people who were looking for something other than filling a budgetary gap.
While, it may not be for me personally...I do believe that for those who these experiences can appeal to...this project could prove to be an outstanding success after all.

Well, my chance to re-visit another kitchen is coming soon. 
This year, their 27th anniversary, on March 26th it's going to
be open house all over our 'Belle Province' of Quebec, Canada.
I'll hopefully make it to attend if only at the very least to witness
if anything has changed since my unfortunate experience.

One thing I can be sure of...
this time I'll be there as a spectator only.
I'm no Julia Child and I won't be chopping onions for eight again.

March 26th, 2010...OPEN HOUSE
It's the 13th edition of the national Day of the collective kitchens
I highly recommend that you call the center you are interested in.
In case not every center is aware or even open to this 'Open House' concept...
avoid any misunderstandings of acceptance to visit with them.
I just finished experiencing it personally when I was told that one of
my community centers were absolutely not aware of an open house day.
No matter, how strange I may have found this fact...
I was very glad that I called ahead.

Don't give up. Give it a chance.
Find the right place for you.

Asking yourself what do they make in those kitchens?
Interestingly, after a little search...I came across some very nutritionally based recipes which are created and executed in these collective kitchens. Here is a popular selection adapted from the 'Collective Kitchen' of the region, Estrie, Quebec.

Tender LENTIL (chocolate) GRANOLA bars
Yields 12 bars

. 2 cups canned lentils
. 4 large eggs
. 1 cup canola oil
. 1 cup brown sugar
. 1 cup chocolate chipits
. 1 cup all purpose flour
. 1 cup wheat bran cereal (crushed)
. 4 cups quick cooking oats

- Pre-heat oven at 375F
- Place rack to 2nd shelf from the bottom
- Butter a small rectangular or square pan

. In a large bowl...put all dry ingredients...give it a stir.
. In a blender or food processor...blend the eggs, oil and lentils together until a smooth consistency
. Incorporate this wet lentil mixture into the dry mix and stir until blended.
. Press the combined mix into the buttered pan.
. Bake for about 20 minutes.
. Take out of the oven. When the pan is still hot...cut 12 bars or 24 small squares.

If you've never heard of these 'Collective Kitchens' before...Here's more info:
Regroupement des cuisines collectives du Quebec

info OUTSIDE of Quebec, Canada:
After a little bit of research, I've come to understand that a national directory is still not in place...therefore:
for any information about a collective kitchen in your area, contact a community centre or parents group.
Or SEARCH online to 'Collective or Community Kitchens' in your region.

Has this intrigued you to want to visit or take part in one of these kitchens?
Have you ever participated in one? 
Are you part of one already...anything you'd like to share with us?

Wishing you all the very best and flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Please Note:
Some of these PHOTOS were randomly borrowed from a few UNKNOWN and PROPERLY TRACEABLE owners. If you are the original artist...please notify me so that I can quickly and appropriately credit
you concerning your work. Thank you.