I can say from personal experience that Richmond Community Kitchen is a delightful place to be whether you are there in the afternoon, the evening, or at 4:30 in the morning!
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Located on Jolina Court in Richmond VT, Richmond Community Kitchen opened in the fall of 2017, and is owned by Susan Whitman, Physician's Assistant and Integrative Wellness Coach (and my cousin-in-law!), and by Amy Gifford, Executive Chef at RCK and also Program Coordinator for the Vermont Food Education Every Day (FEED.)
When you walk into RCK you find yourself in a beautiful, open space with ready-to-go meals displayed in freezers and coolers on one wall, tall tables with chairs throughout the room, and the kitchen visible through a large window and garage door-enclosed walk-through. The space is set up to encourage folks to stop in, spend some time, play a game, even put a record on! It represents the shared vision Susan and Amy had of creating a location in their town where people could gather to socialize, to take classes, hold events, and most importantly to have access to wholesome, freshly prepared entrées to serve up at home. The journey began a couple of years ago when Susan and Amy found they shared the same challenges of working full-time and trying to get healthy, home cooked meals on the table for their families. They came up with the idea to meet that need for other families in their community. Together they created delicious and homey dishes like Beef Tamale Pie, Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas, and Vegetarian Chili. They cooked the meals at Amy's house, froze them and delivered them to folks who had ordered them in advance via local pick-up spots in the community. Now with their space on Jolina Court and Bridge Street fresh food is made daily using locally sourced ingredients, and folks can stop by to see what's fresh or frozen to take home. Customers can also view what's available on the RCK website, updated daily.
I was lucky enough to sample their homemade Shepherd's Pie. It was savor, so tasty and my whole family eagerly gobbled it up. My son also had one of their meatball calzones and loved every bite.
The space at RCK is also perfect for classes and discussions. Some of the events that have taken place recently there include a wine pairing, Ethiopian pop-up dinners, making pâte à choux pastry, and a class on artisan pasta. I attended one of their popular pierogi making classes taught by Luiza Bloomberg, owner of Luiza's Homemade With Love. She taught us how to make authentic pierogi with fillings like cabbage and fresh farmer's cheese. It was a lot of fun, and surprising to see firsthand how quickly pierogi come together! Freshly made pierogi is a treat you must experience, they are so vastly superior than any frozen or store-bought variety. Along with traditional pierogi we also made uszki - "little ears" shaped pierogi with a sautéed mushroom filling. I have to admit I was hesitant to taste this one, what with my lifelong dislike of mushrooms. But Luiza minced those mushrooms very finely before sautéing and urged us to try them, telling us that a fine mince was her secret to getting kids and fussy adults to try ingredients like onions and other veggies. And she was right! Instead of slimy slices (the perspective of this mushroom hater of course) the mushroom filling was light, savory, and meaty... and I enjoyed it! Luiza also allowed me to try out a Polish phrase or two on her, taught to me by my mother-in-law: "Daj mi buzi" (Give me a kiss) and "Gdzie jest moja mała żaba" ("Where is my little frog?") Thanks for that Luiza, you were very encouraging!
I also attended a discussion at Richmond Community Kitchen with Dr. Amy Trubek, professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences at University of Vermont and the author of Making Modern Meals: How Americans Cook Today. Her book focuses on the changing cultural perceptions of cooking and meal preparation in our country. It was a fascinating discussion about our roles and our perspectives on the challenges of meal preparation, and how both have changed over the centuries. I found myself in the discussion and afterwards thinking about some of my own assumptions, about whether the women in particular in my family may or may not have enjoyed the role assumed on them of preparing meals while also taking care of kids, and then heading to work. Our group talked about the challenges of getting more people to cook at home amid pressures of low-income, working full-time, or for lack of kitchen skills. It gave Amy Gifford a chance to share with us some of her own initiatives for the Richmond community through scholarships for classes, and the Feed It Forward campaign where customer donations can help feed limited income families. Another class I was a part of at RCK was the one I got to teach! I got to spend a Saturday afternoon hanging with some clever kids making Cookie Bugs. We decorated sugar cookie cutouts of bees, ladybugs, and fireflies with buttercream, sprinkles, and my favorite: candy googly eyes. It was sugary-sweet fun!