When Atlanta’s Municipal Market opened its doors in 1924, most households canned whatever fruit and vegetables they couldn’t use right away, most bread came from home ovens, not bakeries, and most relishes and jams were the product of home kitchens. The skills to produce those foods kept families fed.
In the almost century the market’s been open, those skills have slowly faded away.
Ready to reinvigorate what she calls the “lost arts,” this year Lyn Deardorff and her husband Tom launched The Teaching Kitchen at the Municipal Market. Lyn is the butter, condiment, jam and pickle maker while Tom handles bread. Other instructors teach fermenting, cheese making, dehydrating, soap making and other classes including those for kids.
In the middle of the market, surrounded by stalls selling cheese and pig parts, collard greens and sweet potatoes (and trendy restaurant start-ups like Arepa Mia and Sweet Auburn BBQ) The Teaching Kitchen occupies 650 square feet of classroom space.
The walls are open, and the warm smell of baking bread and the sharp scents of pickling brines lure shoppers who wander over to see what’s going on.
This is not the couple’s first venture into teaching. Deardorff has been teaching classes for about seven years. “I was canning at home and someone asked if I could teach them canning, too. There was no place where that kind of thing was available in Atlanta. The Extension Services used to offer these regularly, but those days are gone. We started at the community kitchen at Piedmont Park. Then we connected with Pam Joiner here at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market and she understood the idea and supported it from day one.”
The kitchen uses home-style equipment so students understand they can do the same thing in their own homes. “It’s just larger. And it’s all hands-on.”
The students are those who want to get away from supermarket versions of food. “They want to get back to what food really is. They’re interested in good food and good health for themselves and for their kids. What we give them are the skills, things they might not have learned from their moms.”
The Learning Kitchen is open four days a week, two days in production, making jars of the relishes, pickles and condiments they sell along with cookbooks and home preservation supplies; and Saturday and Sunday for classes. During the week, the Kitchen is available for group events.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, 10 students gathered for the Kitchen’s “Bread and Butter” class. Chris and Elizabeth Baudler of Buckhead were there, two 30-year-olds who describe themselves as avid do-it-yourselfers who already do a good bit of baking at home. “We were in France where there’s a bakery on every corner. Now back home, it’s not so easy to find local bread. Since we love to make everything at home, we thought we’d start our bread baking by taking this class,” said Elizabeth.
Erin McDaniel, 31, of Atlanta was there with her friend Kate Meehan. McDaniel’s previous experience in bread baking was the one time she tried making bagels. Given that bagels are one of the most difficult breads to make well at home, that was a brave first undertaking, but not a successful one. “They came out like hockey pucks. I decided I needed a lesson. For good luck, my boyfriend sent me off with his grandmother’s ring. She was a great bread baker.”
The class put together the dough to take home, enough to bake two baguettes. Then they took dough Tom had prepared the day before and shaped it into baguettes.
While the baguettes rose, they watched Lyn turn unhomogenized cream into butter. No old-fashioned or newfangled butter churn was required. She put the cream in a food processor and in about a minute the cream turned into butter and whey. The whey drained off for use in baking a future loaf of bread, Deardorff rinsed the butter and put it into small jars. That day, the students went home with a freshly baked baguette, a half-pint jar of freshly made butter and enough dough for baking at home.
In a Saturday morning condiments class, Maggie Haines of Decatur and her mom Coleen McKee, visiting from Michigan, were side-by-side chopping onions for ketchup and measuring mustard seeds to make Dijon mustard.
Next to them was Andrea Buzimkic, 35, of Acworth, who was attending the class with an immediate need. “My boys eat ketchup on a daily basis and I eat mustard almost every day. We’re from Austria and in Europe, use of high fructose corn syrup is restricted. It’s a real challenge to find those things without corn syrup here so I wanted to learn to make them myself.”
The class also made pickled cherry tomatoes, and as the jars were being packed, Deardorff explained that the pickles could be quickly blended with a little oil to make a delicious vinaigrette. As a snack during the class, the students tasted a vinaigrette made with newly made pickles and one made with pickles that had sat for a few days.
And she taught them how to make mayonnaise from the simple ingredients egg, oil, mustard, lemon juice and salt.
Deardorff loves encouraging her students. “When they make that vinaigrette they see they have no excuse to buy store-bought salad dressing again. We love seeing their eyes light up when they realize they can make these things and that they’re better than they ever thought possible.”
As with the bread and butter class, the condiment students left The Learning Kitchen with arms full: a pint of Dijon mustard, a half pint of “kicky” ketchup, a half pint of pickled cherry tomatoes and a half pint of freshly made mayonnaise.
More importantly, they went home with recipes, tips and the confidence to apply their newly acquired skills.
The Baudlers? After the class they baked their baguettes and then ventured into making focaccia. “It turned out amazing,” said Chris.
Buzimkic’s ketchup was gone in days, and she’s been enjoying her jar of mustard. “What I will do most often will be the mayonnaise, though, as I always have those ingredients at home and I plan not to buy any plastic mayo bottles any more at all!”
Watch Lyn Deardorff demonstrate how to make quick pickled Dilly Carrots.
In all her projects, Deardorff prefers to use organic vegetables, which she finds taste better. Because she recommends pesticide-free canning, she also generally uses organic vinegar and organic or raw sugar. Pickling salt is available at most grocery stores in the area where they sell canning jars and pectin. And her pickle recipes call for both vinegar and lemon juice. The vinegar does the heavy lifting on the preserving side while the lemon juice adds its own bright flavor.
Preserving Now’s Vidalia Onion Relish
This bright yellow relish is perfect for almost everything that comes off your summer grill: hot dogs, hamburgers, brats or veggie burgers. Deardorff also likes using it as basting/glazing sauce for roast meats, especially pork. Just brush it on during the last 20 minutes of roasting time.
Relishes like this are widely used to top cooked beans and lentils, and you’ll enjoy it paired with a soft cheese such as Brie or Camembert and served on a cracker or crostini. It’s a really nice balance of tart and sweet.
Preserving Now’s Dilly Carrots
These addictive pickles are easy to make and are so good you’ll find yourself eating them right out of the jar.
Preserving Now’s Homemade Dijon Mustard
Yes, making mustard is easy! Even fancy Dijon mustard.
The original Dijon mustard comes from the town of Dijon in Burgundy, France. Making it in France means adhering to the standards of the AOC, the “appellation d’origine controlee,” the agency that certifies some wines, cheeses and other food products.
Lyn Deardorff of The Learning Kitchen created this recipe and notes, “In the United States, recipes vary greatly. Originally, the mustard seed used was brown seed and it is still used in the French version. The U.S. version tends to use yellow mustard seeds, which are milder, or a combination of both yellow and brown. Other ingredients vary, too, but usually recipes contain a white wine and a vinegar that is often white wine vinegar. The additions of garlic, onions, shallots, even sweeteners like honey or sugar vary as well. This is my favorite version, one that is a bit sharper than the mildest of American Dijons. Feel free to vary the ingredients to your taste.”