CLINTON — Eating and preparing food is a necessary part of life. But for one Clinton resident processed foods are not on the menu.
Raven Odion, owner of Raven’s Nest, an in-home cooking school where she teaches people about a variety of healthy foods and methods to prepare them.
When she was a child, Odion didn’t eat like other kids. Her mother fed her Roman meal bread instead of Wonder bread.
And when Halloween came around, the candy was too sweet for her, so Odion gave it to her sister.
Odion took much of her experience with her mother’s healthy cooking and expanded it, she said.
“My mother is a fabulous cook. She is health conscious, just not as extreme,” she said. “I started shopping at health food stores at 18 when I left the house and did theater arts for a year. I have been eating health consciously for years.”
Odion recalled baking wacky foods for her own children when she was a young mother in her 20s.
After moving back to Whidbey Island from Boulder, Colo., four years ago with her husband Byron, she met people who showed her how to grind her own grains.
“That was when I met my best friends Detmar and Christa Straub who broadened my horizons more and turned me on to grinding grains and eliminating processed foods from my kitchen,” Odion said.
And grinding grain was not the limit of her quest to get good food. She began to make her own cheeses and yogurt from cow’s and goat’s milk.
Odion also became interested in the concept of permaculture — designing agriculture systems to mimic the natural world that started a generation ago.
“I began growing and gardening my own food with permaculture design principles in mind; that we should care for the earth and each other while sharing the bounty,” she said.
As Odion eliminated processed foods from her home, she began to realize that other people on the South End might want to change their dietary lifestyles, and Raven’s Nest was born.
“I offer classes in food preparation that provides healthy whole foods for eating easily and inexpensively,” she said. “Because people are so busy, they often don’t cook because they don’t have the time. So they buy something that is processed or prepared and it never tastes as good or is as healthy and good for you.”
The classes Odion teaches bring to light the possibility of a lifestyle change, she said.
“It’s OK to cook. Our fast-paced lifestyle has convinced us that taking time to prepare food is somehow less important than watching television,” she said. “It is about putting a cook back in the home. It is about using real whole organic fresh foods and eating more local food.”
Odion also teaches classes about traditional Alaskan and European sourdough no-knead breads and pancakes.
She offers instruction in preparing main dishes and desserts, cheeses, yogurt, salad dressings, pesto and fermented foods.
“Because of fermentation of food, which is the original pickling and preserving, I was still eating fresh vegetables from my garden in January,” she said. “It enhances food’s nutritional value.”
For people who suffer from inflammatory joint illnesses, Odion can show clients how to prepare the foods that act as anti-inflammatories. She also teaches people how to grind grains and how to differentiate between the grains.
“Food preparation can be fun and enjoyable. I enjoy the creativity of it, the spontaneity and putting it together,” she said. “We use what’s in the house in combinations that are really tasty.”
Food has become a passion for Odion and she wants to share it with others so they can live healthier lifestyles through their food. She also hopes to create a feeling of respect for cooks in the home.
“We have to make food preparation in an honored esteemed position for someone in the household. I want to bring that honor back into the kitchen,” she said.
The next class she is offering covers grains and sourdough and will be held Feb. 23.
For information about other upcoming classes, call Odion at 331-5561 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.