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Colorado Springs women cook up tasty classes to help families get meals on the table

August 21, 2013 Updated: August 21, 2013 at 9:40 am
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photo - Heather Twesme prepares roasted tomatoes during her Apron Strings Cooking Class.

Photo by Teresa J. Farney
Heather Twesme prepares roasted tomatoes during her Apron Strings Cooking Class. Photo by Teresa J. Farney 

Now that school is back in session, it's time for adults to check out some classes, too. For me, that means cooking classes, of course. I've found a couple that you should check out: Start Simply Cooking and Apron Strings Cooking Classes.

Start Simply but Simply Start is brought to us by Tammy Hanson Maltby and Cathy Gries. Maltby is a two-time Emmy award-winning TV co-host, speaker and author of several books, including her cookbook, "The Christmas Kitchen." Gries is an accomplished caterer of 10 years, mother of six and grandmother of two.

The two women collaborate on recipes for their menus. The night I attended, buffet party recipes were featured with hostess tips for getting your home party ready. Maltby kept the class of about 20 women enthralled with her part comedy and part motivational advice for throwing parties.

"I'm bringing the enthusiasm to the class," she said. "Cathy is the workhorse that prepares for the class. It's all about good wine and good friends."

Maltby charged up the group by saying, "Let's get this evening off on the right foot. Look at the woman next to you and tell her, 'You're looking younger and slimmer.'"

Of course, who doesn't like to hear that? The class was on a roll.

"I want you all to let go of perfection," she continued. "I want you to be free to be you and enjoy your family and friends. Comparison is the thief of joy. Find another woman who does something well and ask her for help. We are all busy people, but lonely cooks. Find other women to cook and share with."

Maltby practices what she preaches. That's how she and Gries got into the cooking class business about four months ago. They were cooking together. Gries was looking for another way to supplement her living.

A light bulb went off (or oven timer rang) in their heads and they started the classes.

Classes are held monthly in Gries' home. At the buffet class, they prepared 11 recipes, each more beautifully prepared than the last.

When all the food was ready, Gries quickly showed us how to set the buffet table to create drama.

She started with a long table covered in a white table cloth.

"Get yourself a bunch of white table cloths," she said.

Then she pulled several cardboard boxes of various sizes from under the table.

"It's better to have different heights to show off the food," she said. "Then use these extra white table cloths to bunch around the boxes."

Within a few minutes the two women had transformed the plain table into a showy centerpiece. The food was served on large platters on various levels. Everyone filled up their wine glasses and helped themselves to a generous gourmet dinner buffet.

Cost is $25 per person. Visit facebook.com/startsimply cooking for more information about the classes and how to sign up.

A few days after I attended the Simply Start cooking class, I went to Heather Twesme's Apron Strings Cooking Classes in her Monument home. Her classes are small, held around an island counter that faces her open kitchen. There were three other women in my class, which featured appetizers and summer cocktails.

Twesme is a self-taught cook who obviously is passionate about cooking and helping young mothers, like herself, learn quick ways to feed families at home.

"The hardest part of cooking is finding recipes that work," she said. "I started the cooking school by request. I decided to teach people and children how to cook, instead of just giving them the recipes."

She keeps the classes to a maximum of five students.

"I like the classes to be interactive," she said. "You can be as involved as you like."

We learned four easy appetizer recipes: hummus, pastry cups to bake and serve the hummus in, grilled flatbread and baked tomatoes to serve on the flatbread. We topped the class off with a Cosmopolitan cocktail. Not only did we get plenty to eat, she sent us home with neatly wrapped packages of extra food.

Most classes are $25 each. Call 209-5896. Visit heathers apronstrings.com.

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