On a recent Wednesday evening, Stenner stood behind a row of bowls and bottles of ingredients, neatly placed on a large prep table in the kitchen of the Whitingham Municipal Center. It was week three of her cooking class for diabetics, and 12 attendees were there to see her prepare a beer-marinated pork tenderloin with sautéed red cabbage, apple, and sweet potato.
“It’s funny, I had no idea intention of doing any of this,” said Stenner. “I’ve been serving fine dining for over 40 years and I just love good food. When I got to Vermont I found the statistics alarming; this is one of the top states in the country that can’t feed its children, and I wanted to somehow get involved.”
Stenner provided catering services for local parties and weddings, as well as a well-attended event at Pettee Memorial Library, but it wasn’t until Whitingham librarian Christine Sweeter asked her if she would be interested in doing a cooking class last May, that she got her chance to teach. Stenner’s class for cooking for diabetics has been well-attended and featured guest speakers as well.
“I know people with diabetes and it’s a terrible disease,” said Stenner. “I thought, ‘I can do something for them, I can show them what to eat, how to make it, and that their lives are not as limited as they think.’”
Stenner believes that teaching good cooking leads to better eating options for children as well. “Teaching about good food and cooking is something we need to do to make people aware that they have options,” said Stenner. “People can feed their children good food rather than the processed junk we find in the grocery store’s freezers.”
Recently, Stenner has found a way to reach more people locally, hosting “House to House,” a cooking show on Duncan Cable. So far, three episodes have been filmed, including one for St. Patrick’s Day, one for Valentine’s Day, and another from the diabetic class. Stenner shies away from just cooking chicken dishes, which she says are too easy. Instead, she likes to think outside the box, looking to show viewers and students that it’s not hard to prepare a healthy and delicious dish. In the case of her diabetics’ class, Stenner has looked for spicy recipes diabetics might not have thought they could eat.
As much as she loves to cook, Stenner enjoys talking about food, a trait she says made working in front of a camera a piece of cake. “I don’t have a television, and I never watch cooking shows, so it all comes out of my head,” said Stenner. “All the things I’ve done up until now have led to this and I’m used to describing good food to people, and it’s the same thing I do with classes, only I’m talking to a camera.”
Stenner does not get paid to do “House to House,” and she sees it as a community service. She is looking for sponsors for her show so more episodes can be filmed. Check the Duncan Cable listings for show times.