Erin – Cooking with Independence

May 30, 2022
Erin smiling

As the Sunflower Hill Virtual Cooking Class teacher, one of the things I love most about the class is that participants get to cook along with me in their own kitchens, learning new skills and new recipes in their own space. One of the challenges I thought I would encounter teaching a hands-on class in a virtual world was engaging with each participant in a meaningful and helpful way. Thankfully, I’ve found that despite the virtual environment, I’m able to connect with participants. Some participants like Erin, who is this months’ Cooking Class Participant Spotlight, make it easy!

Cooking class Zoom view. Erin, two participants, and Teacher Abby with "thumbs up".I sat down recently with Erin to interview her for this blog article. We decided to conduct the interview via Zoom at the end of cooking class. As I asked questions, we both enjoyed nibbling on the Chicken Caesar Salad with Croutons we had just made during class.

Erin has participated in several Sunflower Hill virtual cooking classes over the last year. Her smile always lights up the Zoom screen, and her enthusiasm for learning new skills and trying new foods encourages me to be more innovative. She was interested in trying the virtual classes because she enjoys cooking. “I love learning new recipes and I love being able to try new foods,” she smiled. “It’s a great program to be a part of,” she exclaimed holding two thumbs up.

Erin laying on a couch with her cat on her chest.Erin proudly shared the binder she created that is filled with her favorite cooking class recipes. “I have so many (recipes) that I’ve repeated already,” she said. She has several favorites including Build Your Own Burgers, Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs with Sautéed Veggies, and Sheet-Pan Sausages.

Erin shared that she’s learned new skills in cooking class. “I learned how to cut with a knife, properly,” she said. She also tried new foods that she didn’t think she would like, and was surprised to find that she enjoyed. “Taco Stuffed Bell Peppers – I normally don’t eat bell peppers, but those were actually very good,” she said. When I asked Erin if she had any goals for the class, she smiled and said, “I’d love to try a new Chili recipe!” She also wants to continue practicing her cooking skills to get “better and better.”

Erin with her friend. Both have lighted disney ear headbandsIn addition to learning new skills and trying new recipes, Erin also enjoys interacting with the other participants during cooking class. She’s outgoing both in class and in her personal life. Erin shared that her hobbies outside of cooking include baking, hanging out with friends, watching TV, and playing with her cat. She likes going to the mall, the movies, and out to eat with friends.

Erin feels that participating in Sunflower Hill virtual cooking classes has helped her become more independent. “I’m making my own meals! I love making my own meals that I can eat throughout the week,” she said proudly. Erin’s family is also enjoying the tasty results of her cooking. They especially like that the food is fresh, healthy, and made from scratch. “They (family) love it! My mom is definitely a fan of it,” she said.

Two pictures of Erin with her mom, sister and dadErin is a hard worker, punctual (she’s always on-time for class), and is good at multi-tasking. Like so many people, Erin was laid off from her job during the pandemic. “It was bad,” she said. She’s happy that things are getting back to normal, and is now enjoying working at a local Smart and Final. She hopes to continue to learn new tasks at her job so that she can have more responsibility. “I always want to learn new things,” she said.

As I finished asking my questions, we finished our salads and decided that the croutons were the highlight and that a second helping might be in order. I’m thankful to have participants like Erin who enjoy learning new skills and trying new foods. I’m looking forward to more classes with her – and testing out a new Chili recipe!

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Story by: Abby Lourenco, Sunflower Hill Non-Residential Programs Manager
Contributing Writer: Rachel Clark, Sunflower Hill Communications Manager

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