Date Night Idea: Cooking Class on a Farm in a Barn!

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with all this intentionality around making sure you have consistent dates with your spouse, it can become stagnant with what you’re doing together. don’t get me wrong, we have our go-to restaurants and do our fair-share of binge watching netflix and calling it a ‘date night.’ sometimes a date night idea needs to involve a new experience for the both of you.

a few weeks ago, we were invited by our friends jessica and devin (hi!) for a date night/business chat with other married couples who work together! she told us it’d involve a cooking class so i figured that could only aid in me sucking less with cooking.

we ventured to the kitchen at middleground farms, which for you locals is only about 25 minutes outside of portland in wilsonville. i think all i need to do to convince you to go here is show you where the cooking and eating takes place…

dates in portland the kitchen outside

it’s on a farm and in a beautifully renovated barn. i couldn’t get enough of this sight. upon walking in, i was immediately welcomed and offered wine so no complaints there. since i’ve only had interactions with a few farms, i can only assume that wine comes with all barns? i’m not sure.

the owner and chef is jessica hansen and she makes you feel like old time friends immediately. not only that, but she’s smart. she taught me a little trick that will make all of our lives easier. you can actually write on glass with a sharpie and then it wipes off! brilliant idea for when you’re having those fancy dinner parties but wine charms annoy you because you never remember which little sparkly ring was yours anyway.

dates in portland wine

another pro tip…you should probably write your name on the base of your wine glass and not directly on the side of the glass like this is your first rodeo. guilty.

not only was this a fun new activity for us, we were also surrounded by other couples laughing and giggling together and that just makes me happy to be around. even better, we actually learned some new skills and have new recipes to try at home!

dates in portland cooking

on the menu was shaved fennel & citrus salad, fettuccine with pancetta, peas and asparagus ribbons (it was as fancy as it sounds) and baked halibut with hazelnut pesto. or if you have the tastebuds of a 6 year old, your friend tells the chef you don’t like seafood and she makes you baked chicken with hazelnut pesto (ahhhhmazing). this was followed up with panna cotta with lemon blueberry sauce.

we even made the fresh pasta ourselves! this sounded so intimidating to me and chef jessica explained there are other recipes but you can actually make it with just flour, eggs and some water. it totally worked (duh) and was mesmerizing to run the dough through the pasta maker.

dates in portland cooking class averys

i now must venture to italy and pick up some more skills for pasta making. it only seems like a natural progression.

dates in portland chelsea avery pasta

chef jessica never made me feel stupid for only having basic kitchen knowledge. i loved the way she spent just the right amount of time explaining how to dice something up or why you roll the hazelnuts in a dishtowel to remove the skins after roasting (it pulls them off easier).

she also settled the very public debate my husband and i were having about the need for separate cutting boards when it comes to meats vs. veggies. i said we needed to keep separate cutting boards as to not potentially contaminate the veggies with meat particles. she agreed but then said it’s fine to use the same one if you wash it in between so i guess we were both right. fine.dates in portland the kitchen up

the kitchen is a commercial kitchen and spread out nicely so there were different stations going on at the same time, complete with step-by-step directions. i am the type of person that needs the exact measurements and the exact sentence of what to do next so the directions were spot on for me. even better is that you get to take home the same step-by-step recipes of ever last thing you ate/created that evening (and it comes with a little whisk that i can’t stop using for anything that could potentially be whisked. this is more than you might imagine).

i super loved that almost all of the ingredients came from within our state (except the oranges because those don’t grow here). on top of that, no food is ever wasted at the kitchen. see that big bowl in the middle? that’s where the food scrapes would later be fed to the goats that produced the mind-blowing goat cheese mousse we had as our appetizer!

dates in portland the kitchen oranges

anything that’s not edible for the goats gets put into a compost to fertilize the farm. i love things like that because hello, we only have one earth so let’s chill out on the waste when we can. otherwise all of our crops will turn to dust and we will have to find a new planet to live on! can you tell i just watched “interstellar” and my mind is still officially frazzled by it?!

dates in portland homemade pastathe pace and teaching style of cooking was also very organic and natural (pun of course intended). the atmosphere is comfortable and it’s like you’re just hanging out with friends who are learning how to make asparagus ribbons together. typical stuff.

take a gander of that group of good looking people and the gorgeous table where we worked and then dined! it was refreshing to do something new with my husband for our date night and then get to connect with other couples who balance that whole life partner/business partner thing.

the kitchen the group

i barely remembered to capture our finished product because i was so engrossed in conversation as well as stuffing my face. i’m not a huge fan of peas (remember, 6 year old tastebuds) but they slide right down with ease because the flavors were phenomenal. we made that pasta! it’s still blowing my mind how simple it was to make fresh noodles (but admittedly not as much as the concept of bending time and gravity is blowing my mind).

dates in portland final product

it was inspiring to be surrounded by other couples, though they are doing different work than us, to hear that we all struggle with similar things. sometimes you just need to hear that other people find it hard to start a business and run it together. it’s also great to talk with people outside of your field of work because they can offer insight that you wouldn’t have thought of because you’re in the thick of it all.
dates in portland ryan and chelsea avery

we are already figuring out when we can come back to the kitchen because it was such a fun and unique night being together, laughing with friends and learning new skills. it’s $150 per couple, so it’s more than we would spend on a typical date night but i’m scheming potential birthdays and anniversaries or when we just need to class it up. i think that’s a fair price because it’s for both of you, and you get appetizers, booze, a multi-course meal, AND learn skills that you can use in your own home. it’s definitely worth doing for a special date night!

thank you again jessica and devin for such a fun night out and to the other couples we connected with over this experience!

doing a cooking class together almost made me want to spend a little more time in the kitchen figuring out this whole cooking thing because it was fun to do together. my husband and i have been meal prepping and cooking more together since this night and our whole30 venture. it’s now an unspoken rule that i will also be in charge of the whisk

just as you invest in your education and career development, it’s important to invest in your relationship, which should include new shared experiences!

1) have you ever taken cooking classes together?
2) where did you learn how to cook?
3) what’s a fun and unique date night you’ve had recently?
4) but seriously, have you seen “interstellar?!”


  1. Audrey

    April 6, 2015 at 8:57 am

    This is such a creative idea and sounds like it was a wonderful time! That barn is fabulous- can I just live there?! Dang!

    We don’t have places like that in my little town (that I’m aware of) so we’ve never done a cool little cooking class like that! I think it’d be so neat to make my own noodles, though! (No icky peas… good for you for enjoying them!) And I totally would’ve written my name on the side of the wine glass, too 😉
    Audrey recently posted…Grateful Heart: link-up

    • chelsea

      April 6, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      isn’t it such a great idea for a business, audrey?! super impressed with them and i wanted to move right in too! it was SO fun to make our own noodles and then they only took like 3 minutes to cook! if you ever venture here or to another town with cooking classes, take them!

      glad i’m not alone in the name placement on the wine glass. ha!
      chelsea recently posted…Date Night Idea: Cooking Class on a Farm in a Barn!

  2. Amanda

    April 6, 2015 at 11:41 am

    This looks so fun! I would love to do something like this. I would totally make that rookie Sharpie wine glass mistake too.
    Amanda recently posted…Happy

    • chelsea

      April 6, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      highly recommend it if you get the chance to, amanda! it was really fun and it made me less afraid of cooking ( a little bit).

      cheers to weird places to write our name 🙂

  3. Amberly

    April 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    This looks like so much fun!! They have these types of classes at Harmons by us and I’ve always wanted to go. One day I’ll have to make them work with our schedule.
    Amberly recently posted…Spending Spontaneous Time Together – Marriage & Relationship Goals

    • chelsea

      April 7, 2015 at 7:09 am

      you definitely should check out the classes, amberly! it was fun to do together and walk away with some new knowledge and recipes!

  4. Elizabeth T

    April 6, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    What a great idea for a date night! I love the look of the barn and the food you guys made looks soooo delicious. We haven’t done something like this yet (I haven’t found any couple’s cooking classes here) but it’s something I know we’d really enjoy when we’re back on the mainland!
    Elizabeth T recently posted…Easy Dinner Recipes for Two

    • chelsea

      April 7, 2015 at 7:10 am

      isn’t that barn AMAZING?! i love it. yeah i would imagine your options are limited on your island but worth it if you find one elizabeth!

  5. Rachel G

    April 6, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Glad you guys had fun! I cook all the time, but I’ve never made fresh pasta. One of our local restaurants makes fresh, hand-pulled noodles, and it’s fun to watch them work.
    I feel like we rarely go out on ‘dates’ ever since we moved to China. Probably because going out in general is just so much more draining. I.e. if we wanted to treat ourselves to a nice Mexican dinner, we have to ride a crowded metro 2 hours there, and 2 hours back. We still go on walks together–I’d say going on walks wandering nearby neighborhoods is our primary date for now. We’re usually only motivated to do the big adventures when we’re with friends, and to me, a date requires just the two of us, otherwise it’s classified as “adventure.”
    Rachel G recently posted…My #1 Tip for a Happy Cross-Cultural Marriage

    • chelsea

      April 7, 2015 at 7:12 am

      it was so surprisingly easy (though you would need a pasta maker contraption). it’s mesmerizing to watch those people making large quantities of noodles!

      2 hours for mexican food?! EACH way?! yeah…that would seem less fun to get out if that’s what it entails. glad you walk together and explore the neighborhoods, it’s amazing what conversations can pop up when you’re walking 🙂

  6. Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties

    April 8, 2015 at 6:24 am

    Awww this sounds like so much fun! That blows my mind that you can just MAKE pasta like that. nbd… just MADE THIS MYSELF! Also a tiny whisk sounds amazing. AND I now want to go try writing on a wine glass with sharpie!
    Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties recently posted…Gettin’ Nosy! An Interview with Katie from Katie Did What