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Thursday, March 24,2011

Local, organic cooking made simple

Classes teach how to turn local bounty into delicious meals

By Kaely Moore

Boulderites are discovering a world of new recipe ideas and cooking methods at Simple Spoon Cooking Classes, which emphasize sustainability by using a variety of local and organic products.

Casey Easton, founder of Simple Spoon Cooking Classes and Simple Catering, says that her three-hour classes offer a fun and social atmosphere where people can expand their culinary horizons.

According to the Simple Spoon website, Easton attended the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder and started cooking professionally in 1999. She worked as a private chef for many years before creating Simple Spoon.
Easton’s classes are unique, she says, in that they utilize all-organic products, often turning to local ingredients for their easy accessibility and great flavor.

“I’m at the point where I think local products are almost more important,” Easton says.

One of Easton’s summer classes is centered around the farmers’ market in Boulder. She brings her students to the market, where they can talk with farmers about the origin of their food and purchase local ingredients to use in the recipe for that day.

The farmers’ market class, Easton says, teaches her students to use what is available to them. The produce at the market is only accessible during certain times of the year, depending on its growing season.

“It’s what we should be eating if we live here,” she says.

Easton maintains that eating locally shows support for the community. And for her students, seeing that the agave they are using comes from Longmont, or the peanut butter from Boulder, gives them better understanding and excitement about using local products.

“It’s a cool pride thing for people,” Easton says.

Rosemary Lohndorf, a Louisville resident who has taken a few of Easton’s cooking classes, says she can see how making use of local products can connect people to their community and give them a sense of gratification in knowing exactly where their food comes from.

Companies like Celestial Seasonings and Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy come to Lohndorf’s mind as businesses that deliver products the community takes special pride in because they were founded locally.
Lohndorf also says that living near Boulder has provided her with easier access to healthy local food, which is helpful to maintaining a healthier overall lifestyle.

“I think the closer you get to the source of your food, the more nutritionally viable it is for your body,” she says.
Lohndorf says she gets the impression that Easton is committed to incorporating local and organic ingredients into her classes and truly believes in the value of neighborhood products.

Initially, Lohndorf became interested in Simple Spoon because she was looking for ways to increase the variety in her meals.

As a vegetarian, she says that it can sometimes be difficult to shake things up in her daily diet. Although local grocery stores and supermarkets provide a diverse selection of food, arranging that food in new and creative ways is often a challenge.

Easton’s hands-on classes, Lohndorf says, have given her some ideas for great additions to her vegetarian meals.
For more information about Simple Spoon, or to register for classes, visit www.simplespoon.com.
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