Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio

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offlady
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2007/02/11 01:00:21 (permalink)

Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio

I am scheduled to teach cooking classes at a senior center (ages 55+), starting with desserts. Some attendees will be there to learn, others will be there simply to eat with no intentions of cooking.

My first class will be quick & simple desserts, using a basic box cake mix and showing them a variety of desserts. My emphasis will be "quick and easy."

My husband suggested I do combination appetizers & dessert classes. There are a couple other instructors, one of which offers healthy lifestyle dishes. I think I will avoid the oxymoron of healthy desserts and stick to good tasting but easy to make desserts.

I imagine the people will have a wide range of knowledge in cooking, from men who never cooked (maybe recently widowed) to women who have been cooking all their adult lives and looking for new things to try out.

Anyone got suggestions? Any ideas? Please don't make me watch Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee!
#1

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    6star
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/11 02:56:36 (permalink)
    As a senior citizen (age 72) male, never married, who has been enjoying creative (experimental) cooking for a number of years, may I suggest that you shouldn't under-estimate the knowledge of men in the cooking area.

    Also, be sure that dishes you suggest are for 1 (or 2 people or meals, at the most), since we really don't want the refrigerator and freezer filled with lots of leftovers all the time, nor do we want to eat the same thing day after day just to use it up. In other words, use the small (like Jiffy) boxes of cake mixes, etc. rather than the bigger Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines or Pillsbury ones.

    I think you are correct in your assumption of quick and easy dishes would be welcomed. (I don't watch Sandra Lee, but I do use canned cream soups, salsas, etc. where appropriate to avoid some of the time-consuming aspects of scratch cooking.) I feel you are also correct in assuming that "healthy eating" is less important to us than something that tastes good.

    If you encourage all your students to bring and/or present their favorite recipes to share with the others, you may find that they will be happy (and even proud) to do a lot of the "teaching" for you, sort of the same way that everyone here on Roadfood shares their favorite recipes.
    #2
    offlady
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/11 06:00:53 (permalink)
    6star,
    Thank you for your comments. What great ideas. I'm so glad you reminded me about preparing dishes in small portions. I'll be sure to consider that. I also like your idea of sharing recipes. I will ask everyone to share a simple and easy recipe (4 or 5 ingredients)--I'm sure everyone has their favorites. Then I will put together a mini cookbook collection of recipes to pass out at the end of the cooking series.

    Also, thank you on correcting me on the gender issue. I should know that many great cooks are men--just none of them live in my house!
    #3
    fabulousoyster
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/11 08:01:46 (permalink)
    Teach some recipes to cook from the microwave.
    #4
    lleechef
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/11 11:26:44 (permalink)
    I agree with simple and small portions. For desserts, graham cracker crusts or mini frozen tart shells work well as do ingredients like Cool Whip and cream cheese.

    I'm not sure how many seniors are into making appetizers, but definately do some quick and easy main courses. From your profile I see you are in Hawaii. How about fish?!

    The seniors here in SoCal often have potluck suppers and the most popular items are Jello-type salads and soups. The most popular soup that I get requests for ALL THE TIME is NE clam chowder. Go figure.
    #5
    salsailsa
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/11 12:47:24 (permalink)
    I think the suggestions thus far are great- I'm certainly not a senior but am single and can relate to the comments about large cake mixes etc. I NEVER make dessert- mainly because I am turned off by the thought of having a massive cake or something that I only really want 1 or 2 pieces of.

    Individual Banana loaves would be a good treat to do as they freeze well. I love mini cheesecakes made in cupcakes liners with vanilla wafers as the "crust"- these also freeze well and you can eat one at a time. Shortbread crust tarts are also a great thing because they are a little more decadent than pastry ones and you can make them ahead of time and fill with things like lemon curd or fruit when you need them. Just keep in the freezer.

    Individual grasshopper pies would be yummy too- chocolate graham cracker crusts in tart shells.
    #6
    BunnySlippers
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/11 12:56:46 (permalink)
    This is my new favorite quick and easy dessert. Folks are so impressed, I am tempted not to tell how simple it is. It can also be made with cookie mix.

    White Chocolate Raspberry Bars

    1 (18 oz) roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
    1 1/2 c. white chocolate chunks or chips
    1 (12 oz) jar (3/4 c.)raspberry jam or preserves
    1 teaspoon oil

    Heat oven to 350. Break up cookie dough into ungreased 13x9 inch
    pan. With floured fingers, press dough evenly in bottom of pan to
    form a crust. Sprinkle 1 cup of the white chocolate over crust;
    press firmly into the dough.

    Bake at 350 for 16 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

    Remove partially baked crust from oven. Spread jam evenly over crust.

    Return to oven; bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool 1 hour or until
    completely cooled.

    Melt chips with oil over hot water or in the microwave and transfer to a zip plasti bag. Cut small hole in bottom corner of the bag. Squeeze bag gently to drizzle white chocolate over bars.
    Refrigerate around 20 minutes or until chocolate is set. Cut into
    bars. Serve at room temperature. Makes 36 bars

    Enjoy!
    Bunny
    #7
    Sonny Funzio
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/12 10:31:41 (permalink)
    My significant other's father was one of those men who had never needed to know how to cook.

    After her mother died, it was realized that on some things, her father was like a turtle flipped over on it's back.
    He could fix and/or replace every single component in a washing machine (he was an electrician by trade) but absolutely had no idea how to actually use the damn thing to clean clothes ... much to my girlfriends hilarity when he sheepishly called her to the basement to give him instructions on how to do the wash.
    Another skill he lacked was cooking.
    The big breakthrough came when she showed him how to make Lasagna, something that he was very fond of and found he could also cook himself.
    You might teach a class on making Lasagna.

    #8
    mland520
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/12 10:34:22 (permalink)
    The best thing you could hope to teach is cooking for one or two. Almost all the recipes in books etc are for four or more. That would serve some seniors for a week or more. Less is more!
    #9
    pcdiva
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/12 19:31:36 (permalink)
    get some issues of Quick Cooking (now Simple and Delicious), Cooking for 2, and Light and Tasty by Reiman Publishing. Or get a couple of their cookbooks from the library. All of the recipes in these magazines should fit the bill. Simple, yummy recipes and many have nutritional analysis if diabetics are involved.
    #10
    abe_froeman
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/12 20:58:07 (permalink)
    Also, keep in mind, many seniors are on budgets. Maybe show them how to spend as little $$ as possible for healthy ingredients, like "super foods", many of which are very inexpensive and can be eaten in many different forms:

    1. Beans: A great low-fat, low-calorie source of protein and an easy way to help control your weight and your blood sugar.
    2. Blueberries: The best food on the planet to preserve a young brain as we mature.
    3. Broccoli: The best food on the planet to prevent cancer.
    4. Oats: A sure-fire way to lower your cholesterol.
    5. Oranges: The most readily available source of vitamin C, which in turn lowers the rate of most causes of death in this country, for example, heart disease and cancer.
    6. Pumpkin: Loaded with phytonutrients, which keep our skin young and help prevent damage from sunlight.
    7. Wild salmon: A guaranteed way to lower your risk for cardiac-related death.
    8. Soy: The only complete vegetarian source of protein.
    9. Spinach: The best food on the planet to prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, thus ensuring a lifetime of good vision.
    10. Tea -- green or black: The easiest and cheapest no-calorie way to avoid heart disease and cancer.
    11. Tomatoes: One of the easiest ways for men to avoid prostate cancer is the consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based products.
    12. Skinless turkey breast: The leanest meat source of protein on the planet.
    13. Walnuts: Consuming walnuts is an easy, tasty way to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
    14. Yogurt: A tasty, easy way to boost your immune system.

    (courtesy of WebMD)
    #11
    ann peeples
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/12 21:07:25 (permalink)
    Those raspberry bars look fantastic!!!!!
    #12
    jvsmom
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/12 21:31:06 (permalink)
    How about individual banana "pudding," made with low-fat, sugar-free vanilla (or banana) yogurt? Some fruit flavored yogurts work well, too, particularly blueberry, believe it or not. You could even use the low-fat or fat-free vanilla wafers. If you use yogurt, you don't have to worry about whipping up a whole batch of pudding.
    #13
    redtressed
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/12 22:27:12 (permalink)
    Another suggestion I would have is how to prepare courses that freeze well. For instance, Lasagna.....effort once.....eat lustfully...cut into individual squares....toss into freezer bags and into the icebox......instant nirvana another time or 10.
    #14
    morningglory
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/13 00:19:49 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by mland520

    The best thing you could hope to teach is cooking for one or two. Almost all the recipes in books etc are for four or more. That would serve some seniors for a week or more. Less is more!


    I have to agree, as one who has passionately loved cooking for my family over the years, now with my girls grown up and on their own, and widowed, "cooking small" is no easy feat. I try, but somehow, what starts as small, ends up with more than I can stomach. LOL.

    Some of the ideas mentioned above, tips on recipes and techniques for freezing extra portions, but without having a whole lot of mystery meals, long forgotten in the freezer, would be helpful.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
    #15
    Sonny Funzio
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/13 09:45:09 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by abe_froeman

    ... Also, keep in mind, many seniors are on budgets ... as little $$ as possible for healthy ingredients ... like "super foods" ...
    1. Beans: ...
    2. Blueberries: ...
    3. Broccoli: ...
    4. Oats: ...


    Nu? ... Abe, no sausage?


    #16
    Sonny Funzio
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/13 09:50:39 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by redtressed

    Another suggestion I would have is how to prepare courses that freeze well. For instance, Lasagna.....effort once.....eat lustfully...cut into individual squares....toss into freezer bags and into the icebox......instant nirvana another time or 10.


    So that's 2 for lasagna ... do we hear a third? ... get it while it's hot!
    Great point about lustful eating and freezable meals redtressed.
    Eat well all week.

    #17
    BelleReve
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/13 18:49:01 (permalink)
    I totally agree about cooking small portions. When I cook for my 85 yr old dad, he doesn't want more than 1-2 containers' worth to freeze. One exception is rice, which he can cook himself and freeze in several small containers. It freezes well, and is easy to defrost on it's own, or in the microwave.

    My dad is good with cooking different cuts of steak, lamb chops, or a small pork tenderloin, and there aren't a lot of leftovers.

    In addition to cooking rice (stovetop), I think using the microwave to cook seasonal vegetables would make a nice class. I'm sure there's lot more, but corn on the cob, beets, broccoli, and asparagus are a few that come to mind.
    #18
    offlady
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/14 13:42:39 (permalink)
    That's a great title for my class--Eat Lasagne Lustfully
    #19
    EliseT
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/19 03:21:28 (permalink)
    Remember the general health issues too...these won;t apply to everyone, but to keep in mind...

    Nothing spicy! Lots of heartburn and stomache problems.

    Nothing that requires reading off a box, or seeing little measurements. Maybe find a source for large-print measurers like the Braille institute. Or use the "dry" measuring cups for everything so they don;t have to read at all. You can color-code a "half-cup" or "cup".

    Nothing that would require much lifting. A pan of lasagne should be prepared in meatloaf pans, because a regular-sized pan would be dropped on the floor.

    Not too much chopping or fine motor skills required tasks...a lot of people have arthritis.

    Avoid things that involve pouring hot liquids, or frying in fat. The Braille institute and specialty stores sometimes have a flat metal cirle that you put on top of bacon so the heat conducts on the top and you don't have to flip the bacon, the cause of many splatter burns.

    Some people will have false teeth, so corn on the cob, apples, hard nuts, etc. can be a problem.

    Things the older people I cook for seem to like:

    Quiches (Pre-made pie crusts)

    puddings of any kind

    soups (Right-o Lleechef!)

    muffins

    Simple foods from their childhood...salisbury steak, meatloaf, baked chicken, tuna casserole, mashed potatoes. Maybe look at 1930s-50s cookbooks for ideas.



    #20
    Jimeats
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/19 07:58:17 (permalink)
    A class on cooking with the croc-pot. To me this is one gadjet the seniors would get a great deal of use out of, and safely at that.
    With the newer ones being progamable and very user friendly their options are many. In the same class you could also show the benifits of having a Food Savor or Seal a Meal, to store and reheat leftovers. Chow Jim
    #21
    doggydaddy
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/19 08:00:09 (permalink)




    I think that I qualify as someone who could teach some things based on what I learned from care taking my 95 y.o. Granny. She was living alone and we discovered that she wasn't eating the food from Meals-on-Wheels. The brown bags with sandwiches were barely touched and the dinners had their own share of problems. Her lack of teeth prevented her from eating many items.

    My suggestions are consider teaching them cooking and dietary skills for the future. It would be a interesting idea to take them on a 'Shopping Safari' at the supermarket to learn how to shop for one or two people. It can be tough, as many items are sold prepackaged and when they see this, they avoid purchasing them. They don't need a 12 oz. package of mushrooms. Frozen vegetables are very helpful in mealtime preparations. For instance....


    ===The best thing you could hope to teach is cooking for one or two. Almost all the recipes in books etc are for four or more. That would serve some seniors for a week or more. Less is more!===

    This is very true. One concept is to teach them how to cook a meal with the intention to make another from the leftovers. A pot roast can be turned into a stew or soup. One pound of ground beef can be split to create two meals. Go ahead, have a hamburger, but the other half can be used to make a tomato meat sauce or Shepard's Pie with instant potatoes and frozen corn.
    The suggestions for lasagne bother me, if you make a pan-full, then you have made too much. I know this for myself, as I made a pan and have a bunch of Vac-u-Seal lasagnes in the freezer doing nothing.

    Some of the best cook-book recipes they may like are the same reason why I frequent this forum. How can you go wrong with the Stern's cookbooks titled SQUARE MEALS or REAL AMERICAN MEALS? Good stuff in there....

    ====In addition to cooking rice (stovetop), I think using the microwave to cook seasonal vegetables would make a nice class. I'm sure there's lot more, but corn on the cob, beets, broccoli, and asparagus are a few that come to mind. ===

    This is a good idea, except for the corn on the cob. I had to cut the kernels off the cob for her to eat it. Might as well go frozen or creamed.
    I have mentioned frozen vegetables a bit here. They are a very helpful item for the kitchen pantry to help in cooking. Instant potatoes, rice and pasta are important.

    In closing, I learned many things about 'oldster' cooking. As time goes on, food needs to be softer. What I considered to be soft food was masticated and given to the dogs who waited very patiently for the eventual reward. There was no need for a garbage disposal.
    One day I became tired of having to eat the same soft meals as she did and made a plate of Buffalo Wings for myself and served what I made for her.
    She sat there, looking at what I was eating and enjoying. She said she wanted to try one or two and I warned her that they be too tough and hot to eat. I gave her two and she wolfed them down.
    She wanted more, and I gave her some. The food that I made for her went to the dogs, but she really liked those wings. I would make them from then on.
    Granny is gone now, but in Heaven I bet she has her teeth back so she could enjoy eating again.
    There are T-Bones in Heaven....

    mark



    #22
    jwoodman
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/19 10:05:58 (permalink)
    Speaking as a serious cook but alo as the daughter of a mother who is living in a "retirement village," I don't see why the lasagna should be a problem. Instead, since loneliness is a problem for so many, why not have a class or three whose slant is intentionally on sharing meals? That could be when people share the cost of such an expensive-to-prepare dish and then all bring bread pans to share the spoils after they share a meal and a bit fo a social life. Your class could thus encourage something some of them get too little of. They could perhaps even invite poeple who aren't alreday in the clas to share in that one.

    Other classes could more properly be focused on smaller dishes, but I also don't see why they cannot be healthful. My husband and I are full-time RVers--therefore, we have less kitchen space than most seniors--and we are careful to make food that is delicious but also rich in nutritionally dense foods. I'd try for that balance. There are "superfoods" cookbooks out there that could provide lots of recipes for you to work from--to adapt to your students' tastes.

    Good luck!
    #23
    EliseT
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/20 07:43:27 (permalink)
    Yes...not only meal-sharing, but they could have an informal co-op. When I lived in an apartment building, we were always splitting loaves of bread, and bags of potatoes and onions.

    Another thing, my mom can't handle the heavy spices of pre-prepared things, so if you use a jar of spaghetti sauce, they can add a can of plain tomato sauce, for something like canned enchilada sauce, use chicken broth.

    My husband bakes hot wings, then boils them forever in butter, lemon and hot sauce, and gives them a quick run through the broiler to crisp the outside and seal some sauce onto them. They are super-soft and you would not need teeth at all. But the spice would not work for some, so maybe making teriyaki wings would be good.

    The idea for crock-pot cooking is great!

    Maybe stive-top stuffing would be good, as that other poster was suggesting "soft food".

    #24
    BarbaraCt
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/20 08:51:41 (permalink)
    Remember that as we age, we are told to hold off the salt. I prepare lunch for the ladies who play bridge, and am reminded that they are told by their doctors not to add salt. Low fat and low sugar are also appreciated. I know that is a "downer", but I am trying to be realistic. Low sugar is hard with deserts, but so many older people have diabetes, that it is a real concern.
    #25
    offlady
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/21 02:43:18 (permalink)
    Thanks for the tips. Is there a particular dish that is a challenge in preparing for one or two servings (besides lasagna)?
    #26
    Sonny Funzio
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/02/22 19:06:02 (permalink)
    Any dish can be prepared in smaller quantities - lasagna included.
    Simply use a smaller pan and use smaller quantities of the ingredients.

    I think that the main thing that impacts making smaller 2-person portions would be the perishable supplies that you open up and then do not use entirely. Even though this is almost entirely avoidable with a modicum of planning. There is not much that can not be obtained in small quantities ... even for something like chicken. Roast chicken for 2? ... Use two Cornish Hens.

    As far as cooking for older folks, the points above about dietary restrictions, and chewing and digestibility issues are noteworthy ones ... But again, not everyone has them.
    Institutions have to cook to do "the greatest good for the greatest number", and if that means milquetoast and canned wax beans followed by choice of tapioca or Jell-o, then that is what is served. But for a smaller group of people, I would think that, within reason, the infamous "bland diet" of the nursing home does not need to be the sole primary emphasis behind the dishes for a cooking class that people have willfully signed up to attend.

    As far as restrictions, it seems the choices might conform loosely to:
    1)Two person recipes (except for meals for the freezer)
    2)"Reasonably" appropriate for dietary restrictions
    3)Cost effective (a minimum of unused black truffles left over)
    4)recipes that are not a bear to prepare, and that keep to a moderate clean-up or less.


    The style of the classes would be where you could add the sizzle! ... you could have a class (or two) on the following;

    "The Best TV Dinners You've Ever Had" ... cooking and putting up foods to the freezer. My suggestion is still lasagna.

    "Candlelit Dinners and Champagne Dreams" a couple classes to the romantic side (!) ... complete with a recommendation for the appropriate beverage and desert.
    I suggest Steak (yes steak!), garlic bread and asparagus.
    Use a the tenderest cut of steak, generally the tenderloin ... (this is commonly used for beef tournedos or filet mignon). Easy to make, tender and low-fat. These can be pan-fried ... no more than medium though (ideally medium-rare) as this is a very low-fat cut - it is one which can also be larded with bacon ... either way the cooking is easy and cleanup is negligible. They can be made even more tender if necessary by tenderizing ... plunging repeatedly with a fork and marinated overnight using a papayan meat tenderizer.
    Any degree of complexity per a recipe could be added here if desired ... topped with mushrooms ... served on points and topped with bernaise, and so forth ... there are any number of great recipes for using this cut.
    As a "romantic" meal ... I would be sure to include wine (or beer) with the meal even if it is necessary to serve only a very small amount. It's a matter of flavor and atmosphere. Small 4oz to 8oz 'pony' bottles of red wine or champagne are available at many stores.

    "Potluck Favorites" ... social meals, as noted above, are a great idea! A casserole is a possibility. (many of my fav's here are a bit high in fat)

    "Dishes of The Island" some Hawaiian/Asian dishes. Hmmmm. I'm not well versed in such cusine ... my only personal recipe here, Rumaki, may or may not be suitable (cocktails or some sherry or port would be a must ;-)

    "A Chicken in Every Pot" ... some "comfort food" classes. Roast Cornish Hens ... maybe a great chicken soup with dumplings.

    In any regard, I would encourage you to lean toward at least some dishes with some "sex-appeal" and sizzle. Something away from the humdrum ... this is not an occupational therapy appointment after all. I would think people who have signed up have done so for some sort of a culinary adventure.

    #27
    roossy90
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    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/03/08 19:09:58 (permalink)
    This might help... menu planner from AARP..
    http://www.aarpmagazine.org/food/recipeguide/
    #28
    mbrookes
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1355
    • Joined: 2004/10/08 10:28:00
    • Location: Jackson, MS
    • Status: offline
    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/03/09 15:35:22 (permalink)
    Also, people sometime under season for us elderly people. Just as our eyes and muscles have weakened somwhat, so have our taste buds. I find myself using larger amounts of herbs and spices to get the taste I want.
    #29
    Sundancer7
    Fire Safety Admin
    • Total Posts : 13521
    • Joined: 2001/07/18 14:10:00
    • Location: Knoxville, TN,
    • Status: online
    RE: Cooking classes for senior citizens--any suggestio 2007/03/09 15:37:42 (permalink)
    If they have one in Knoxville, I hope they have volume control and large letters

    Seriously

    Paul E. Smith
    knoxville, TN
    #30
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