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In hard times, people hit the kitchen

A woman grates a hunk of cheese

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: There was a time when people ate out a lot. But those were days when consumers had more money in their pockets. Today, home cooking seems to be the in-thing. But there's a problem with that: there're a whole lot of folks who don't know how to cook. That's good news for -- you guessed it -- cooking schools. From Portland, Oregon, here's Sadie Babits.


Sadie Babits: Valerie Edwards makes a living telling people what to eat. She's a dietician and she's a foodie. But since the recession hit:

Valerie Edwards: Well, I've definitely been eating out less and I've gotten more interested in cooking again.

She's dug into her cookbooks and found she wants to learn more.

Edwards: I wanted some more skills and creativity for my dishes. I tend to make my dishes too simply and not, I'm not creative about blending flavors together.

So Edwards turned to Hipcooks. This is a new funky cooking school in Portland.

Monika Reti owns HipCooks. She thought when the economy turned south, she'd have to cut back on what she offers. Instead, the opposite has happened.

Monika Reti: I think as people are realizing that going out to eat is not just expensive but sometimes not as delicious or not as healthy as cooking at home, they are coming to me to learn how, in droves.

And who better to teach cooking skills in a down economy than Reti. She's an economist who used to work for the Rand Corporation. Among the new classes she's adding gourmet on a shoestring and brown bagging it:

Reti: We cook all the lunches for a week and and so that's really fun to learn what can you cook on a Sunday that's still good on Friday.

Hipcooks isn't the only cooking school seeing a jump in attendance. Most around Portland are, including "In Good Taste."

Ben Dyer: Let's talk about some of these meats. Don't fondle them too much because we're all going to eat them.

On this night, guest chef Ben Dyer talks about less expensive meat cuts like flank steak:

Dyer: Because in these economic times, people are looking to kind of make what they eat a little less expensive so they can feed their family a little more easily.

Cooking classes like this one will likely continue to sizzle as more jobs are slated for the chopping block.

In Portland, Oregon, I'm Sadie Babits for Marketplace.

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