Biz profile: The joy of cooking: Lynnies’ Kitchen classes share

Taking classes Galena ARC Steeple Square Lynnies’ Kitchen

Visit to keep up to date on when new classes are offered.

Address: 11084 U.S. 20 W., Galena


Address: 101 E. 15th St., Dubuque


Location: Oregon, Ill.


Making meals can be a chore — shopping for the right ingredients (in person or online), preparing and cooking and then cleaning up. It’s an involved process and it can be difficult to find the energy to complete a quality meal at the end of a long day. For those who enjoy it, though, cooking can be energizing.

For either end of the spectrum, cooks of all levels deserve a day off on occasion, which is why local business, Lynnies’ Kitchen, offers a fun approach to cooking classes. Whether as a date experience, girls or guys get-together or a team-building experience, it’s an experience to savor.

Owner Lynn Kaufman got the cooking bug early. Like many kids growing up in the rural Midwest, Kaufman spent her share of time helping her parents and grandparents cook, learning family culinary traditions in Oregon, Ill.

“My family is Czechoslovakian,” she said. “My grandma did a lot of baking, and my mom, dad and aunt cooked. We (the kids) were guinea pigs.”

Kaufman’s experience extended beyond Illinois, too. Her aunt and uncle, in Long Island, N.Y., introduced her to clamming, crabbing and checking the tide schedule. Back in the Midwest, she would “drift to the docks” of Lake Michigan to see what fish the great lake had to offer. Exploring places further away, Kaufman will still invariably gravitate to the water, as she does when visiting Seattle’s Fish Market, for instance.

From Midwestern and Czechoslovakian food experiences to coastal delicacies, Kaufman gained a valuable breadth and depth of cooking knowledge, much of which she has used to experiment with developing her recipes.

“Recipes are a jumping off point,” Kaufman said. “I start with what I have and then do whatever (works well).”

Kaufman’s experiences and deep interest in the connections that food creates motivated her to “share the joy of cooking.”

“Some people (who take my classes) will say that they don’t know how to cook,” Kaufman said. “I’ll teach them to cook, share my history and give dietary facts of the dishes.”

Kaufman offers regular classes once per month at the ARC in Galena, Ill., and on occasion in Mineral Point and at Steeple Square in Dubuque. Kaufman teaches people how to make a variety of dishes including empanadas, gnocchi, potstickers, pie and pizza. And classes have a cozy number of people from four to 12, which often is a mix of couples, larger groups and individuals.

And then there are jam-making classes. For those without a history of making jam, Kaufman walks students through the process step by step.

“For a class last summer, students brought two jars and a pan with them, and I provided the ingredients,” Kaufman said. “We do most of the process and students finish at home.”

The regular classes aren’t all that Kaufman’s cooking up, either — she also bakes goods and jars jellies, jams and pickles to sell at the Thursday farmer’s market in Oregon. She grows most of her produce to use in the recipes, but if she doesn’t grow something — like rhubarb — she’ll get some from neighbors. It all takes quite a bit of effort, but it’s worth it.

“I work but I don’t,” she said. “I enjoy it.”

Luckily, Kaufman can also count on a division of labor — she cooks, and her husband is a workhorse to help her clean. He’s something of a “cleaning fairy,” in fact. Putting so much effort into preparing foods to sell means that help with cleanup is an essential part of maintaining balance.

Together, Kaufman and her husband also care for vines at Galena Cellars’ research vineyard. She grows grapes, makes wine and enters competitions (winning Double Gold, in fact, for a Concord grape varietal). Of course, growing grapes and making wine goes hand-in-hand with cooking with wine, and it has its place in her tomato sauce and roast chicken dishes.

To round out her efforts with teaching classes and selling baked goods, Kaufman also shares her recipes and photos on a blog that includes her recipe “twists” and nods to others that gave her the inspiration for some of them.

Meanwhile, her education continues. To add to past travels, like Sicily and southern Italy, she and her husband will be going to Prague to enjoy the food and open markets.

“I may hone interesting recipes when I come back,” she said.

The more culinary experiences Kaufman gathers, the more she can bring back to share and to teach. Cheers to that.