nurture /ˈnərCHər /, v.

The first year after I moved to California (from New Jersey), I spent pretty much every waking moment with my mom. I was supposed to finish my second year of preschool, but apparently the local preschool waiting lists went on for years and they were all fairly expensive, so my parents decided to just opt me out of it.

I spent that year taking various “Mommy and Me” classes, like making clay animals and cooking. The only thing that stuck from that cooking class was to never attempt catching a falling knife. Just move out of the way and let it fall.

When I interviewed Chef David Groff from the San Francisco Cooking School this summer to write a knife guide for Confetti Kitchen, I laughed quietly to myself when he gave me the same advice: “Don’t leave your knife hanging over the edge of the counter, and if it falls, don’t try to catch it. And do try to move your feet if you can.”

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Photo by Courtney Cheng

Ever since that interview, I’ve wanted to take another cooking class, a proper one though, where I would remember more than just how to make a smoothie in a blender. I do remember making other foods, but the details are fuzzy now, and heck if I’d be able to find the plastic folder of recipes we collected from that class when I was four. (Note: If I tried hard enough, I would be able to find it in my room somewhere…)

This past weekend — after four months of planning and one rescheduling which very sadly required me to use white-out on the off-white pages of my planner as I waited for another month more — I finally made it to my second official cooking class.

At Sour Flour, we learned how to make sourdough bread. Our instruction began with the actual dough starter, and we continued by learning how to “feed” our little baby starter and calculate how much more flour and water we’d have to add to it to make bread, pancakes, flatbread, pizza dough — you name it.

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Photo by Courtney Cheng

I’m not at all an auditory learner. All the numbers went in one ear and out the other, but I loved playing with the actual bread dough and feeling pretending I was a good enough baker to know how to properly use a bench scraper. My favorite part (aside from eating the flatbread we made) was learning how to get rid of excess dough stuck on your hands: flour, free exfoliation included.

And yes, consuming the flatbread at the end of class was immensely satisfying. The toppings — sesame and poppy seeds, as well as sea salt — complimented the whole wheat texture of the dough. We tossed on arugula, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil at the end, and honestly, it was worth slightly scalding my fingertips on freshly baked bread.

Although the actual instructions on how to make sourdough bread are already escaping me, this class reminded me to never underestimate the power of cooking and baking with fresh ingredients. Nothing beats the taste of whole ingredients and handmade food.

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Photo by Courtney Cheng

Of course, a weekend isn’t complete without [trying new] ice cream. I’ve been seeing the Thai rolled ice cream trend on my social media for at least a year now, but up until now, I’d only seen it being made on the East Coast. It was only in the past couple months that I finally saw it offered at a new dessert shop in Oakland’s Chinatown.

This made-to-order ice cream is so fresh, not overwhelmingly sweet, and a refreshing treat to have — even if it’s barely 50 degrees outside. I so appreciated that it didn’t make me feel dehydrated from sugar overload.

I was, admittedly, a little sad when I realized my hooman had already tried this ice cream without me, after I had been the one to put it on his radar, mind you… But bitter ice cream is easily made up for with sweet revenge. And I would be hard-pressed to say no to other dessert offers from him.

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