Course report: Plant-Based Macrobiotics Cooking Class, September 2nd

Last Saturday we hosted our first  Plant-Based Macrobiotics Cooking Class at our new venue in in Edale, Derbyshire. We’d hosted several classes before on a slightly smaller scale, but we’d decided to get a little more professional about it, and The Old Winery was the perfect setting on a perfect September day.

Cooking in a new kitchen is always a little daunting, especially when you are planning a 16-course meal for 10 people! So there were several late nights in the days leading up to the course while we tried to work out how many pans, knives, chopping boards and mixing spoons we would need. Thankfully The Old Winery was also quite well equipped, so even though we forgot one or two things on the the day, the clean and spacious kitchen had pretty much everything we needed.

The day started off with tea and home-made lemon verbena crisp breads in the warm autumn sunshine, while the students introduced themselves and I then talked about how the day would be structured and started explaining a little about some of the ingredients we would be using. I also talked about the benefits of the ingredients and the importance of preparing balanced meals using a range of tastes and cooking techniques, ideas that are really important in macrobiotics.

The students were all remarkably knowledgeable in different areas, and we had a nice mixture of ages, backgrounds and genders, a really interesting and lovely group to work with!

After the warm-up, I demoed an amazake dessert and a quick miso soup before the cooking really began in earnest. Each student was assigned two dishes to prepare, one relatively quick and simple one, and another slower to prepare and more difficult one to make. The idea was that everything would be finished at about the same time, which nearly worked out.


Cooking demo

While we were waiting for one of the bean dishes to finish cooking, The Fermentation Master did a quick kombucha demo, fascinating the class with the eerie mothers he had floating on a maté tea sweetened with apple syrup. We also tried a few of his other fermented concoctions, but no students were brave enough to try the sour kimchi juice.

 

Kombucha

Lunch was finally served, an amazing array of tastes, colours and textures. Again, I was really impressed at how well everything had been cooked by the students, all of whom showed a flair for cooking and a passion for what they were about to eat.

 

Lunch!

After lunch The Fermentation Master concluded the day’s teaching with a fully hands-on session in raw kimchi making. First a  basic kimchi paste was prepared and then each student worked on their own to produce their unique batch to take home.

 

Kimchi

Before setting off for at the end of the day, we finished off with tea and the chilled amazake pudding. It was great to meet so many amazing and like-minded people, and I am hoping to stay in touch with everyone.

The next course will be held on October 14th in Edale.

Some comments from the students:

“I had a lovely day. Lots to think about, new people to meet, great food and your expertise. What more could I ask for? The venue was superb and I look forward to another class in the future. The whole day was so well planned and executed.”

Great day, gorgeous food. Really enjoyed the cooking and delicious meal.

Really enjoyable & knowledge-filled day. Really impressed by the variety of dishes & flavours we cooked together. I’m inspired to continue the journey. Thanks all!

 

Macrobiotic Shop featured in The Sheffield Star

Last Friday The Sheffield Star published an article entitled ‘Macrobiotic cookery class bids to improve Yorkshire’s health‘. The article reports on the health crises facing much of today’s population and how a wholefoods, plant-based diet can combat many of these issues. Here is an excerpt:

“Japan underwent rapid change at the start of the 20th century when the country’s diet changed because of western influences. This brought with it many illnesses and social problems,” said Georgina.

“George Ohsawa observed the rapid decline in health and set about creating a popular movement for health.” It was based on whole grains, such as millet, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa and pearled barley, and fermented products such as miso, tempeh, sauerkraut and pickles. He called it the macrobiotic diet.

Read more at: http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/health/macrobiotic-cookery-class-bids-to-improve-yorkshire-s-health-1-8662455

 

 

Koji

Koji is a fungus, which interestingly is only found in Japan. Koji has been extremely important in Japanese cuisine for centuries. The Japanese can now do wonders with it. Without koji, there would be no miso, no amazake, shoyu, tamari or sake! It starts fermentation processes and ensures at the same time that the often long fermentation processes can be controlled. Koji creates the unique umami flavour. It enriches, makes the flavour more powerful and creates an end product that is easy to digest.

Hatcho miso ferments in large 100-year-old cedar wood barrels. About 600 river stones are manually stacked on top in a pyramid shape.

HOW DOES KOJI FERMENTATION WORK?
Koji works best with warm temperatures and a high humidity. During the active fermentation, koji needs two to three days to develop explosively in the ingredients that come into contact with the koji (e.g. soy, rice or wheat). One gram of koji contains no fewer than 10 billion koji spores. This fast growth is necessary, as this way other moulds and bacteria have no chance to develop.