Susan Domer is a food geek.
She has the gadgets: crocks, a dehydrater, pressure cooker, slow-cooker and is always looking to start up a new food project. She preserves, ferments, cans, candies, but most of all, she plays.
She calls herself the “mad scientist in the kitchen.”
Domer, a long-time resident of Craig, experiments with food for fun, but gets the benefit of creating healthy concoctions and building on the existing community of Craig foodies.
Trading ideas and sharing skills is a “good social interaction too,” she said.
Domer teaches classes at the Kitchen Shop to spread some know-how — focusing mostly on canning and fermentation.
Her classes veer away from a classic lecture. They’re interactive. She asks participants to stir the jelly to feel the thickness of the mixture and to crush the cabbage and salt to feel what it’s like to make sauerkraut.
She teaches with a smirk and enthusiasm. She wants people to have as much fun with food as she does.
“People who don’t like cooking should go play with their food,” she said. “Our mothers are wrong. We should play with our food.”
Nadine Daszkiewicz, owner of the Kitchen Shop, said Domer is part of a thriving canning and fermentation culture in Craig.
“There are a lot of people who still do a lot of food preservation,” she said. “It’s not a survivalist thing. It’s just something they’ve always done.”
Domer makes so much of her own food from scratch because it’s not available in the grocery store with the same flavor or the same health-value.
“Some of the foods I grew up eating aren’t available anymore,” she said.
Sauerkraut, for instance, may be available on the shelf, but not with the probiotic goodies that come in homemade fermented cabbage.
“It’s got the probiotics and it’s not processed,” she said.
Commercially marketed sauerkraut is heated to the point of killing off any digestive aids that are most of its health-value.
It also tastes better homemade, she said.
Domer is a woman of all trades. She knits, weaves, gardens and tries to learn something new everyday. That’s why she wants to bring back a Craig group, the Hen and Chicks, who used to gather to teach each other valuable skills.
“Trading skills because every person has skills to share,” she said.
Domer is glad to see younger people become interested in food and how it’s made.
“I’m excited that younger people are beginning to realize there’s something missing,” she said.
Domer sees these skills as a way to develop community, stay healthy and stay sharp.
Also, “it’s a good way to get together and spend our winters,” Domer said.
Reach Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.