JCA offering virtual cooking class


JASPER — For Donna Schepers, cooking is art. She’s only learned from friends and family, mostly, so she’s not a professional chef. She doesn’t follow recipes, and if she ever makes any of her own, she just likes to call them “put-togethers.”

But cooking is her passion. She loves to make meals involving her Kentucky roots and travels the world, picking up cooking tips and tricks from different cultures.

“Cooking is my creative play in the kitchen,” she said. “It's like playing with paint, only for me it’s with food.”

Schepers, who is the education coordinator for Jasper Community Arts, is offering a virtual cooking class through JCA called “Cooking with Donna: Kitchen Love.” She began the class in October, and her third session will be Feb. 25.

As someone who has taught in-person cooking classes before, Schepers said teaching over Zoom can be strange. Instead of interacting with participants, it’s just her standing in front of a camera, usually just talking to herself. She doesn’t follow a script, but she does make sure to pace herself to finish the classes within the allotted time.

“It’s weird,” she said. “I don't have an audience in front of me to play off.”

However, a silver lining that Schepers and several other JCA workshop instructors and performers have found is that when classes are virtual, anyone can participate. Often, participants will invite friends or family over to gather around the computer and watch Schepers, since only the person signing up has to pay the $5 fee. People from as far as Pennsylvania and Florida have registered.

Some like to cook along with Schepers, but she said that may be difficult for some to do as she keeps a steady pace. Others simply watch the videos and then complete the meals on their own.

There aren’t many foods Schepers dislikes or won’t try, so the options for cooking lessons are pretty endless, she said. But she likes to share recipes that mean something to her.

Most people, even if they aren’t as passionate about cooking as Schepers, have fond memories involving food — whether it be looking back on family potlucks as a child, making a special dish for their significant other or learning how to cook meals when living on their own for the first time.

Schepers has more food memories than she can count, especially since her family has always been filled with cooks.

To this day, she can perfectly picture her and her mother making peanut butter fudge in the kitchen together in her childhood home.

One of her great aunts made the best biscuits in the family.

“All I have to do is say ‘Aunt Dorothy,’ and my mouth waters for those biscuits,” she said.

Growing up in Eastern Kentucky, Schepers would often pick blackberries to make fresh jam. Her family's jam cake, which includes chocolate and caramel drizzle, is one of her favorite desserts to make.

Even her husband, Glen, who’s so picky he doesn’t eat vegetables, can cook a steak better than anyone she knows and is known for frying fresh fish for the Kiwanis Club in Ferdinand.

For her class this month, Schepers is making creamy Italian eggs in purgatory, fried mozzarella bread and a Rome-inspired affogato espresso martini. The meal combines her Southern roots cooking, love for Italian food and even her experience of teaching British literature, she said.

"Cooking for me is not only an artistic outlet, but it's also just fun," she said.

Those interested in participating can register online through Friday at jasperarts.corsizio.com or by calling JCA at 812-482-3070. The class will be Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m. and can be accessed by a Zoom link that will be sent after registering.

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