Culinary Learning Adventures

Cooking To Learn, Learning To Cook: Workshops for the Homeschooling & Unschooling Community


An exciting new project to use culinary activities to build skills and knowledge in many areas. Offered as workshops to learning groups within the homeschooling communities, we support the natural curiosity of learners to explore and build skills in the world through their interactions with food.  

I’ll start with sharing a little bit about myself.  My name is Marla and I am a certified teacher in Ontario and BC and I have worked as a professional cook, as a food educator, and as a child/youth educator.  I am passionate about cooking really good, nutritious, unprocessed food, and engaging with the lost culinary art of making everything from scratch.  I really enjoy making cheese for example, yogurt, soup stock, lard, ketchup, marshmallows…the list is long but the point is that I like to start with just the whole unprocessed ingredients.  I also love learning and sharing knowledge through culinary explorations because I see food as an exciting entrance point for learning so much.  Food is an opportunity to expand skills and knowledge related to a vast number of subjects and ideas, but kitchen activities can also support the development of the person through nourishing skills related to higher order thinking, interpersonal relations, and communication, for example. In the kitchen, the possibilities of what we can learn are limitless.

As an educator, I have sought out self-directed and non-coercive learning environments.  Through my work in democratic free schools and community projects, I have become skilled in approaches to education that prioritize diversity and individuality, and focus on the educator’s role being that of a facilitator rather than director.  Today, I continue to work with an online home-schooling project in B.C, and I deeply value the opportunity to support families to choose the educational path that is best for them.

I am connecting with you as homeschooling families, because I offer workshops that will engage a variety of skills, knowledge, and abilities through culinary activities. I will come to your home (you are welcomed and encouraged to invite learners from other families), I will bring all materials and equipment with me, and we will engage in a culinary adventure together. The workshops are designed to be between 2 and 3 hours each, with the capacity to include up to 10 learners of mixed ages (between 4 and 17), and to fully accommodate the unique gifts and challenges that each participant brings. A look through the variety of workshops that I offer will demonstrate that they are structured to use a food focus such as making pizza, as the opportunity to also learn about the science of gluten, or geography, or an introduction to fractions, for example. The goal is to have fun experiences making food together, and through that build knowledge, skills, and confidence related to culinary pursuits as well as many other spheres. My workshops are play-based, experimental, exploratory, fun, and they will build, deepen, and expand a number of social, communication, and academic skills in the participants. 

I have experience working with learners that have a colourful variety of needs including designated learning and developmental challenges, and I am able to discuss accommodations beforehand.

A note on allergies and food preferences. I am very skilled and experienced in working with and preparing food free of the big allergens (including gluten and nuts) as well as vegan and vegetarian food.

As a certified B.C and Ontario teacher I have had to complete a vulnerable sector criminal records check and you can check on the BC and Ontario Federation of Teachers websites that I am an accredited teacher in good standing. 

For more information, please email me at:

How To Process Dried Chiles


IMG_0894This is an important process for many of the great dishes in Mexican cuisine.  It is an art, but we all have to start somewhere. I find that the oil water combo is best for making sauces because it develops the flavour and really softens the chile well.  You can use only oil or only water if you like.

Step A. Remove all the seeds and veins, and any of the stem.  You only want the leathery beauty of the chile itself.  I have found using scissors for this very useful.

Step B. Heat a small bit of oil of choice in a fry pan.  Use an oil that won’t carry a flavour…grapeseed is always my personal choice because it is flavourless and is happy at high temperatures (doesn’t turn carcinogenic like some others). Heat the pan to medium high heat.

Step C. At the same time have a pot of soft boiling water ready.

Step D. A few at a time, fry the chiles.  Use tongs and turn and remove, putting in the pot of water.  Be very careful not to burn them.  You are aiming to cook them about 10 seconds or less.  You only want to release the flavour, golden them…but it is so easy to burn them, and if this happens start again.

Step E. Cook the chiles in the water a few minutes to soften. Reserve the liquid