Tommy Mayer of Castle Valley Farms made fresh-pressed wheatgrass juice at the Moab Farmers Market at Swanny City Park last June. Mayer will be teaching a free class featuring oatmeal recipes at Moonflower Community Cooperative on Monday, March 27, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. [Moab Sun News file photo]

Moonflower Community Cooperative will hold its grand reopening celebration on Friday, March 17, after an extensive remodel this past winter. The natural foods store has a new layout, a new refrigerated section, a new deli and an enlarged kitchen that will host cooking classes beginning March 22.

At the March 17 celebration, students from DayStar Adventist Academy in Castle Valley will serve vegan carrot hotdogs – made entirely from scratch, buns and condiments included – for lunch. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will start at 5 p.m., followed by a spread of organic food from Moonflower’s deli. Throughout the day, Moonflower will be giving out prizes: kitchen wares, and products by local artisans and herbalists.

“It’s been a full remodel,” Cactus Moloney, Moonflower’s outreach and events coordinator, said. The store’s interior is significantly different – “You’ll be able to see from the front of the store all the way to the back,” Moloney said – and the kitchen upgrades will increase Moonflower’s ready-to-eat options.

A new oven, and the hiring of several bakers, will allow the store to serve fresh-baked breads, cookies and pastries.

“That’s going to be one of the biggest changes we’re going to see,” Moloney said.

They’ll also be serving coffee from Fresh Moab Coffee, and eventually, Moloney said, they’re hoping to introduce fresh juices. Soups, salads, raw treats and other staples of the deli will continue.

The new kitchen will also allow Moonflower to hold cooking classes, something that wasn’t easy previously.

“Our last kitchen was really small, and it was not conducive to having classes,” Moloney said. “We tried to fit about 12 people in there but it was so tight and really didn’t work out.”

“This was designed with classes in mind,” she added.

On Wednesday, March 22, Tim Buckingham, owner of the Atomic Grill, will teach a class on soups and stocks from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The class, Buckingham said, will focus on the fundamentals of stock-making as well as improvisation with different ingredients.

“I found out a few years back I’m dyslexic,” Buckingham said. Even before the diagnosis, he knew that written directions were a challenge for him: “I had problems following recipes. I would always screw them up. That forced me to improvise.”

Buckingham said he’s made improvisation the basis of his cooking, and hopes to show students at Moonflower how diverging from established recipes opens up “a whole different realm of possibilities.”

“We can just let the class flow in the direction they want to go,” he said.

Buckingham will also teach a class on salads on Wednesday, March 29, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., using the same principles: start with a base – greens, grains or noodles – and improvise from there.

“You may never do that dish again. That dish is unique,” Buckingham said.

Between Buckingham’s classes, Tommy Mayer will teach a class featuring oatmeal recipes on Monday, March 27, also from 6 to 7:30 p.m. He’ll be making oat-based waffles, garden burgers and vegan meatballs.

Mayer teaches math and science at DayStar, and manages the academy’s farm. The oatmeal recipes he’ll be teaching came from his personal experience trying out a gluten-free diet.

“The waffle is one that is just from experimentation,” Mayer said. “I just wanted to make it as simple as possible.”

Using blended oats in place of flour produces “a nice, fluffy, seemingly white-flour type waffle,” he said.

The garden burger recipe is constantly changing, he said, and the oatmeal meatballs are his wife’s variation on a friend’s recipe.

“It’s just been kind of fun using something else other than flour to make stuff,” Mayer said.

Mayer also helped create the carrot hotdogs that DayStar students will be serving at the grand reopening.

“At first it didn’t seem too appealing to me,” Mayer said. “Finally, someone else made one for me and I was just blown away.”

He made carrot dogs for a campus barbecue after that, and eventually brought them to the Moab Farmers Market. He and the students are building a cart, and hope to make the carrot hotdog stand a regular feature at the farmers market in the future.

“It’s gonna be a full handmade hotdog from top to bottom,” Mayer said.

The buns will be baked from scratch using local wheat and spread with a vegan cashew-based mayonnaise, and the hotdog will be topped with sauerkraut made from the academy’s cabbage, plus chili using locally sourced beans.

Both the reopening celebration and the cooking classes are free. On the day of the reopening, Moonflower’s members get 10 percent off purchases and 15 percent off deli items all day, and can meet the four current nominees for the co-op’s board. Sign-up sheets for the classes are posted on Moonflower’s bulletin board.

Local chefs to teach cooking classes in expanded kitchen

“You may never do that dish again. That dish is unique.”

For more information, contact Moonflower at 435-259-5712.