Kitchen Capers takes on an international flair

Commentary by Chandler Holland
Times-News correspondent

   Kitchen Capers is staying in Graham but going global. This fabulous program is offering another year of cooking classes, but instead of focusing on holidays, this year we’ll be exploring recipes from different cultures around the world. Kids 9 to 14 years old are invited to “travel” with Alamance Arts as they cook the best of Central America, the Far East, Italy and Africa.
Each young chef will go home with recipes, a shopping list and all the skills they need to prepare the in-class creations on their own. In addition to technique, safety, prep and clean-up are emphasized in each class. No prior experience is needed.
Kitchen Capers is led by my mother, Susan, and I. We love food — the science, nutrition, ethics and presentation — and, most of all, cooking delicious meals together. An “instinctive” cook, mom’s favorite memories are learning to cook alongside her grandparents. My training is more formal with C’est si Bon! Cooking School classes under my belt — although I’ve been known to throw together some interesting combinations that would never be found in a cookbook.
   Kitchen Capers classes are held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays at Alamance Arts (formerly the Alamance County Arts Council), 213 S. Main St., Graham. Tuition is $30 per class for Alamance Arts members and $35 for nonmembers. To register, call Alamance Arts at (336) 226-4495.
The 2015 Kitchen Capers class schedule includes “South of the Border” on Saturday; “Far East Fun” on May 9; “Viva Italiano” on Sept. 26 and “African Safari” on Dec. 1.
Here is just one of the many delicious recipes Kitchen Capers students will be cooking this year:

 South of the Border Sloppy Joe Tacos

1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried basil, finely crushed
2 tablespoons oil (50:50 blend, olive and canola oils)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
8 hard taco shells, warmed

   Toppings may include: shredded lettuce, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, chopped spring onions, diced tomatoes, sour cream, salsa and guacamole .
Place tomato paste in a measuring cup and fill with water to the one-cup mark. Add all spices, stir well and set aside. In a large frying pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Sauté onions until transparent, but avoid browning them. Add ground beef and break into small pieces. Cook until browned all the way through, stirring as needed. Stir tomato-water mixture into meat, turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes; stir as needed.
Assemble tacos by placing approximately 1/8 pound of meat in a warm taco shell and add toppings as desired; serve immediately. It’s fun to set out the toppings, creating a “taco bar” letting your guests build their own tacos. Makes 8 tacos.
Cook’s notes: Other protein can be easily substituted for the beef, such as shredded chicken or pork, or ground vegan tofu. To make this dish grain-free, South of the Border Sloppy Joe’s are also delicious served over a baked potato.

Chandler Holland is a home-schooled sophomore and a Teens & Twenties writer. She is an intern at C’est si Bon! Cooking School, and co-teaches the Kitchen Capers kid’s cooking classes at Alamance Arts.


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