Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kids pottery classes created per request.
See for details.

Check out the on going NEW STUFF at this BLOG's bottom!

The Underground Foodie
David A Rench &
The Carriage House Gallery – Presents
See the new info at the bottom of this page announcing our new classes!

From building an earth oven, artisan bread baking, to cook like a gourmet;
all while having fun in Spring Grove, IL
Learn where and how to find the wildest flavor treats and bargains!
Learn culinary tricks that can make cooking fun and easier!
Your food and wine palette will thank you!!!

Where - Downtown, Spring Grove, Il 60081

Phone - Phone 815-219-9834
Hosts – David & Carol Rench

Cost - Starting at * $35.00 * donation to attend individual classes & cooking seminars,

Mission Statement

Objective - To have fun while exploring whimsical fun things to do and the culinary arts using fun, easy, repeatable and approachable methods.

Result – A small intimate energetic gathering of like minds
which will receive an education, share, while learning how to create, have fun and cook like a gourmet that will heighten your families pleasurable experiences.

We guarantee you will:
*will learn something new…
*you will treat your taste buds…
*and have fun while enjoying yourself!

Attend with friends
Call & sign up


You will have a fun time filled with laughs, learning and tasty experiences!

**$35.00 donation per class will include one or more of the following; printed recipes, sample of the food prepared notes on the class material and information on a suggested, reasonably priced BYOB wine pairing when it is a food class
(BYOB = Bring Your Own Booze)

Or as Emeril would say
“Let’s get ready to have FUN & kick it up a notch!”

Classes are currently private. To be added to our client list please e-mail: Include your request for classes info.

Past classes have included:

Wine pairing notes are a only a guideline. Bring what you like!
Classes redone by request!
E mail David -

Our first get together will be all about having fun, new people
with foodie interests and will be all about focaccia breads!
Learn the quick, easy, elegant, customizable alternative to greasy plain old garlic bread.
Libation or wine pairing? Bring whatever you like!

Country Crusty Bread
How to make crusty, rustic, delicious, easy bread and
options on how to make something easy & perfect, even better.
Each attendee will go home with a bread making kit!
Who is bringing the butter!
Wine pairing? Your choice

Deep Dish Pizza
Don’t pay $40.00 for a Lou Mal_____’S deep dish when you can make an excellent authentic deep-dish pizza with all your favorite ingredients in your own home! YUMMY! Thick crust anyone?
Wine pairing? Well the sky is the limit. Everyone has a favorite beverage to go along with pizza. Most any soft drink, beer or wine will do. My wife swears by a glass of cold milk, GO FIGURE!!!

These approaches to the all mighty feathered friend
will amaze your palette! The intense mouth watering flavors
will have you converted to place the
chicken back on it’s rightful pedestal.
Who is bringing the bread from the May 13th seminar?
The French approach is once again referred to, with these recipes
It will be in your best interest to serve the bread from seminar #1 to go with this!
Wine Pairing? Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon banc, dry sherry, Pinot noir

With the warmer weather and tasty fresh
salad fixings starting to arrive, we will explore the options
to the mundane first course lettuce salad.
Roasted beet napoleons. Salad Lyonnais.
Tomatoes with cilantro pesto
With tasty easy vinaigrette demonstrations
Wine pairing? A crisp dry Riesling or similar white wine or nice Pinot

Learn to make easy, quick full flavored pasta dishes the way
your favorite Italian restaurant makes them.
You will think twice about spending $24.50 at a
restaurant, when you discover how easy it is to make these at home.

Wine pairing? Pinot noir, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot, Cabernet

Did you ever get to the French quarter located in New Orleans and EAT? EAT? EAT?
If you are lucky, you have.
Well here is your chance to say “Laissez les bons temps rouler”
which translates as let the good times roll!
Save the airfare and learn to cook Cajun!
We will explore appetizers to etouffee!

Wine pairing? Just about any non-sweet wine will work with Cajun and beer is certainly an option. Speaking of New Orleans beer, how about Abita Springs amber, turbo dog or Jockamo. Want a beer that will rival many wines? Try Belgian ale like an Allagash dubbel or triple and La chouffe makes wonderful Belgian ales found a Trader Joes and Binneys

GREEK cooking night!
Saganaki, pasticcio and baklava
Wine Pairing? There are good Greek wines available. Really! Agiorghitiko [ Ah yor yee' ti ko ] is one of them. Most good Greek wines cost a little more then a similar widely available California wine. Most dry reds such as Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot and pinot noir will also work. Beer is also a great option with Greek food!

It’s time for Fish!
Easy and elegant will be the approach to preparing fish.
We will have fun preparing fish en croute (in pastry) topped with a scallop/watercress mousse. Sounds intimidating, no? NO is the answer to that question. This is a no brainer and can even serve a large group at a buffet. Wow, top with that with a dollop of Hollandaise! You’ll wonder why you paid $37.95 for a similar dish at that fancy restaurant you went to. Have you ever said “Oh, let’s have fish tonight!,” immediately followed by, “Oh rats, how am I going to cook it?”
The go to easy answer to that response is Fish en Papillote
which will be the second easy fish preparation of the day.
You will be able to stay healthier with these alternatives to red meat.
Wine pairing – Dry whites are going to work well with these dishes. Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon banc, or a red Pinot noir

Easy Pork BBQ!
The 4th is almost here and it’s time to replace those mundane hot dogs on the grill with It will be like traveling the back roads of Alabama and stopping for real roadside BBQ, except we will make it the easy way. You don’t have to stand over a $400 dollar smoker for 12 hours to enjoy real BBQ. We guarantee it! Learn to make the proper side dishes to great BBQ. How about skillet corn bread with grilled corn & roasted poblano peppers? Cole slaw with a kick! You can even make this slaw the day before and it won’t be all watery when it’s time to serve!
Wine pairing? – BEER, BEER, BEER…. How about Capitol Pilsner or their Island Wheat. Any good clean cold beer of your choice will work. I suggest you try and stay away from mass produced headache inducing popular American beers (ask at the seminar why). You will be amazed at what a good micro brew can taste like. Want wine? A robust Cabernet or Red Zinfandel will work just fine.

Shrimp time!
Learn where to get and how to prepare wonderful gulf shrimp with REAL MOUTH WATERING SHRIMP FLAVOR. You will ask why have I been eating these no taste shrimp I buy around here!!!!! We will learn to boil them properly and serve them with a kick _ss roumalade as they sit on a bed of cool lettuce and warm green fried tomatoes. You want more then that? Easy Thai shrimp served in jasmine rice! Yikes, one more? OK how about grilled shrimp burgers? Three wonderful preparations that will keep you coming back to these recipes often.
Wine? - Dry whites are going to work well with these dishes. Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon banc, or a red Pinot noir

Experience a vegetable gateau like no other. This elegant, luscious, baked gateau (French for cake) will amaze your taste buds. This dish is not vegan as it includes eggs and cheese (necessary protein) but it I a wonderfully satisfying no meat dish.
Also learn to make a cold bean salad that has so much flavor and satisfying punch
that you will want to make it weekly!
Wine paring – Pinot noir would be my first choice and nice dry white with hints of citrus will work wonderfully too!

Beef Bourguignon
with garlic mashed potatoes
Find out that this mouth-watering, unbelievable smelling French
stew is not as difficult as the mystique seems to imply.
All the mystery will be removed! Red wine anyone?
Wine pairing? A dry bold red Such as: Blackstone Cabernet, McWilliams Shiraz,
Liberty School cabernet, Cline ancient vine Zinfandel, Rutherford Hill Merlot, A French Rhone or Bordeaux.

Times and dates subject to change as life can throw curves…..

BIO – David A. Rench:

Graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1971)
Majoring in photography & education
Life's passions: Photography (, sailing, fly fishing, traveling, spirituality, fly tying, beer brewing, writing, film, beekeeping, pottery ( , bread baking, sculpturing, playing guitar, gardening, starting gardens from seeds, outsider art, and the list is growing.

1965 Started to take cooking seriously (over 41 years ago)

1967 Began altering recipes to use ingredients that were more inline with his flavor pallet

1967 – 1998 – Cooked, cooked and cooked…

1984 - present - Self employed

1998 - Went to Paris to self study the art of French cooking
(Researched different areas of France from Paris, central France to Provence and Nice

1999 Returned to France once again to research Parisian and Basque cuisine
(southwestern France)

2006 – Studied with Michael Robin Maddox, chef owner of the famed Le Titi de Paris.
Michael Maddox is a 2009 James Beard nominee and has had extensive French chef training

2006 – Present - I have made it one of my passions to study the local cuisines of the world. The main geographical areas of food research have been: France, England, Mexico, Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle, Willamette Valley Oregon, Milwaukee, Key West, Boston.

All ethnic areas of Chicago and many in Milwaukee will be our areas of discussion. Where to eat, what to order, where to buy the best ingredients at the best prices will be shared. Little known surprises relating to food preparation and how to create those great tastes the true foodie or wannabe will be revealed. David has always approached his passions with full force. Some of the areas of expertise other then being a passionate cook have been sailing, (wintered on board in the Florida Keys for 5 years), pottery and art gallery owner, fly fishing for trout, bee keeping, raising tropical fish, mushroom hunting, photography, writing, gardening (goes hand in hand with great cooking), playing the guitar, house contracting and more. He has had three published magazine articles in National magazines, traveled extensively and educated his food, beer and wine palette since the 60’s.

It has been said that the road to fine wine is littered with empty beer bottles, so don’t wait any longer, follow the fine food road and join us for great fun, food and good times!

Visa, Master Card or Discover Card will be needed for a seminar reservations deposit

* Choose which dates you would like to attend
** Call a friend to come with you
*** Call to reserve your dates


May 1st, 2010

I was excited to be helping John and Pixie with the beginning stages of building their earth oven. I have some ideas for how to and where to place mine which I hope to build this summer. Yummm... wood fired pizza anyone? Maybe if there is enough interest, we can host one of our classes on how to build your own earth oven. Let me know if this appeals to you.
Happy early spring!

In the photo above you can see the earth/clay bricks we formed to make a 2 course base of bricks. The interior of the space created by the bricks will be filled with insulating materials to create the oven's sub floor.
A great use for those MT wine bottles!

The fresh herbs that you see below were overwintered and are great little snippers too! Sage, chives, thyme, Greek oregano, parsley.
I can show you all how we keep these herbs going 365 days a year! Happy cooking!
We are proud of this 5 year old blooming rosemary bush. It is about four feet tall now.
In the background below, see the second 4' x 8' raised bed
which is now finished and ready for planting.

Below you can see some images of plants we have grown here this spring from seed, for fresh additions to the kitchen ingredients list. The raised bed hoop house as seen in early May 2010 has been giving us greens and salad additions for weeks! In this bed are beets, basil, carrots, beans, cucumber, tomato, onion, celeriac, cabbage, radish, chard, lettuce, spinach, sugar snap peas, kohlrabi and more!
I love the early garden gifts.

This May 5th photo is of Shitake mushrooms which are fruiting on oak logs which I impregnated with mushroom spawn.
Curious? I can turn you on to how this is done

This closer view of the Shitake mushrooms below, gives you a view of how fresh these wonderful mushrooms are and their size reference to a quarter.

I am always on the prowl for the best ingredients to create great gourmet flavors with. One of the more enjoyable ways to find great flavors is in the local woods. I am referring to the hobby of wild mushroom hunting. (You don't even need a license! LOL)
Below is an image of one of my mushroom identification book pages telling about the wild pheasant back mushroom. See the real pheasant back mushrooms which Finn, Moss (grandkids) and myself found, at the right side of the image.
Most people at this time of year who hunt mushrooms are on the lookout for Morels, a fantastic variety found when conditions are right in May in our northern Illinois woods. One error they often make is the ignoring of the pheasant back, which fruits around the same time as the morels. FYI, the smaller 3" - 5" pheasant backs are best. Larger ones loose their delicate flavor and tend to get tough.

Saturday the 15th was a great evening as I learned hints from Bravo's Top Chef Master, Rick Bayless. Rick did a food demo and spoke of how his passions for flavor and charity work influenced his career. In this video he is speaking about the menu for the Obama presidential dinner that he will be serving at the White House this Wednesday May 19th for Barack and Michelle. Sorry about it being sideways. I will fix that later.

Last evening May 19th, 2010 was a wonderful experience as Carol, John, Pixie and myself made wood fired pizza in Pixie and John's newly constructed earth oven. The following photos show Pixie stretching the homemade dough, cooking the pizzas, and myself in the yellow shirt getting my dough ready. The pizzas were the best wood fired pizzas I have ever experienced and the taste has me crying out for more! I NEED ONE OF THOSE OVENS! LOL. I am sorry for you if you can look at these photos without a mouth watering experience! I will have to get Smell A Blog installed.

What a great time of the year! In the new raised beds, the flowers and veggies are growing like crazy. So far the Underground Foodie's kitchen has seen freshly grown lettuce, spinach, mustard/spinach, parsley, basil, mixed mache greens. We are now working on our warmer weather crops and see the first green tomatoes, beets and kohlrabi that are beginning to swell and 90% of the mid season veggies are planted. We start our vegetables from seed so it was imperative to complete those raised beds before the heat of late spring started. It was a close call but everything planted is doing well, even the warmth loving eggplant and cucumber plants.
In the first image below, you will see the gazebo screen house with surrounding flowers.

Here is a close up of the largest crop of soon to be blooming lavender that we have ever had.

The left side of the below photo is of the first raised bed we installed back in April. Where you see the curved supports, is where we covered the hoop house with clear plastic when it was cold out. In this protected environment, we were able to start growing earlier then usual. This photo taken today May 25th, 2010 shows the 4.5' tall blooming sugar snap peas, heading up broccoli, parsley, beets, carrots and more. The bed in the right shows the newly planted summer crops. Now that the weather is warm they are in the ground and doing well.
PS - The grandkids green bouncy ball is what I sit on when planting! LOL

Below is a closer view of the Swiss chard and little statue that guards our garden. The pottery statue was made by Fred Gregory of :
Check out his website located in Bristol, Wisconsin.

The photo below is a close up of the beauty of nature's bounty.
No veggies, but a delight to behold!
Happy Memorial Day Weekend to you all!

The green onions, parsley and purple kohlrabi started maturing in the garden last week (late May). The fresh organically grown veggy tastes a wonderful!
They are a welcome kitchen addition!

The Earth oven project here at 2110 Main .Here is the foundation we formed and poured to furnish us with a base for the earth oven. Today (Saturday July 24th, 2010) we filled the interior walls with the thermal floor. Next step is the oven cavity form! Yahoo.

The garden is giving us some wonderful culinary gifts lately. Here you see zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, many varieties of vine ripened tomatoes, a few green bean stragglers all next to the fresh basil

2011 has been quite a challenge for us gardeners. Warm, cold, drought, heavy rains, hot hot hot, more heavy rains, but the veggies are wonderful despite mother nature and the pizza earth oven as of 8-2011 has received it's last layer of mud. I will let you know how it came out after it dries.

Here is the earth oven after the 8 - 2011 addition of the last layer of clay, sand, insulating material, straw and perlite all mixed together with our bare feet! FUN.
We sculpted a few windows and shutters that the grand kids had fun with.
The windows and shiny decorative colored glass makes the oven much more susceptible for good luck baking fairies to inhabit our wood fired oven!
The 2012 warm then chilly spring has had us busy in the garden and the new glaze tests offer great new looks for our pottery serving trays and dinnerware..
Spring 2012 has been exciting!
Classes are branching out into many areas of interest. Over the decades we have approached not only cooking but other areas of interest that we would love to share. Our more popular classes are scheduled on a custom basis for interested parties and are listed below.
Carol and & I hope to see you soon and share all the new More Then Fun classes now offered at the Carriage House Gallery ~ Pottery & Art
Classes start at $35.00 donation per class:
Artisan bread baking with wild sour dough starter
Pottery for kids
Easy Home Coffee Roasting
Best Ever Deep Dish Pizza
Wood Fired Earth Oven Pizza
Building An Earth Oven
Beer Brewing
Studio Photographic Portraiture
Introduction to Pottery Throwing on a Potters Wheel
Have a great year!
David a. Rench

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