Sneaking away for a weekend of laughing, cooking and eating is just what I need to get through the last sprint of the school year. Come Cinco de Mayo weekend, you’ll find me in the cozy kitchen of The Vintage Round Top for my second Smart in the Kitchen cooking retreat.
Last January, I co-hosted my inaugural retreat at The Vintage Round Top, and it was an overnight filled with new friends, three cooking classes and wine around the fire with our feet up. I met some amazing women that weekend, and I’ve stayed in lasting contact with most of them. My primary focus was teaching and sharing as much knowledge as possible, but I also felt like we were all recharging our batteries during a quick getaway in the country. I was just lucky enough to have a seat at the head of the table.
Teaching busy home cooks how to plan and pull off easy weeknight meals is the crux of my business. I want to share my favorite easy weeknight gems with as many people as possible, it’s where I put my energy and my focus. The opportunity to have extended, focused time with a group of students, and really dive deeper into practical cooking tips and knife skills was a true gift.
We started off Saturday with check-in, cold brew coffee and a snack of homemade spiced almonds. The Vintage Round Top put together the cutest goodie bags for the 12 attendees, including one of my favorite cookbooks from friend and mentor Pamela Salzman and olive oil from my favorite local producer, Old Country Olive Oil.
As soon as everyone was settled, we piled into cars for a trip to the local Round Top farmer’s market. It was a cool and sunny January morning in Texas, and there were only a handful of vendors. But I went back to the kitchen with salad greens, fresh baked bread and local honey. Lunch was a class that focused on healthy 7-layer dip, homemade vinaigrette, lentil salad and roasted vegetables. Everyone dispersed for downtime or cruising around town, shopping and sipping wine at the cutest local wine bar, Prost.
That night, after a cocktail hour filled with homemade palomas, we dove into making a healthy appetizer, romesco with crudités, and a super fast and delicious dinner of sheetpan ratatouille chicken (a recipe I’m saving for my cookbook, so it was a preview for the attendees!) and flourless chocolate cake topped with raspberries.
Sitting around the table that night was one of those glowing evenings with burning candles, full wine glasses, and story upon story being told. I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt, and went to sleep with a grateful heart. I had no idea who had signed up for the retreat (beyond one good friend who told me she would be there), so I was somewhat unsure about the mix of 12 strangers in a kitchen cooking and eating together. I shouldn’t have thought about it for a second. Food brings people together. And cooking (and learning) together is a magnetic pull that drives that bond deeper. That is why I love teaching cooking classes, and why my business is busier than ever. It’s about connection, extending hospitality and making room for everyone at the table. It’s an intentional practice that I hope makes it’s way into my client’s kitchens and families.
I’d love to see you at my next cooking retreat May 5-6! There are just a few spots left, so click this link to hear all about pricing and accommodations at The Vintage Round Top. Sign up soon!! You won’t want to miss this overnight getaway filled with cooking, laughing and eating. I promise you’ll use the recipes all summer long. I’ve included the menu below. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Hope to see you there!
Spinach and Pea Salad with Pesto Dressing
Roasted Poblano, Corn and Zucchini Chowder
Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread
Local Wildflower Honey Butter
Aperol Spritz Cocktails
The Ultimate Cheese, Nut and Crudités Board
Instant Pot Black Beans
Tequila Lime Grilled Chicken
Quick Pickled Red Onions
Lemon Orzo and Herb Salad
Baby Arugula Salad
Chocolate Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Proscuitto Egg Cups
Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding Parfaits
The Most Beautiful Fruit and Berry Platter