When I was researching my Live & Learn (Online!): How to Take Virtual Classes column, I wanted to include an online cooking school. I started learning to cook when I was a child. And a small part of me has always wanted to take a break from life to go study at a culinary institute. But the requisite free year or two – and funds – continue to elude me. There must be a way to learn professional cooking techniques online, I thought, as I was exploring ways to study everything from physics to mythology online. So I went in search. And, sure enough, I found an online school -- Rouxbe.com -- based on the curriculum of culinary schools. I couldn’t include it in my column because we didn’t have space – and it isn’t free. But I dropped "Go to Culinary School Online" on my to-do list.

And the time has arrived. My son wanted to take culinary arts this term in high school but – after juggling his required courses – he couldn’t fit it in. My daughter has been taking over the kitchen on a regular basis and has already exceeded her father’s skills there. I guess we all want to learn. So the more the merrier! Tonight I'm planning to connect my laptop to the TV and start our at-home culinary study at Rouxbe.com.

The Internet abounds with recipe sites. But this online school isn’t one of them. Sure, it has some recipes. But the meat of the site is its video lessons in fundamental cooking skills – everything from choosing knives (and sharpening and using them) to pan frying, to making gravies and sauces. As I said, I have been cooking for a long time. But I learned a handful of techniques just watching one of these video lessons – the pan frying one. The hour I spent watching this lesson (easily broken into smaller segments) changed the way I prepare this basic dish -- and impressed both of my kids in the kitchen.

Tonight I’m spending $4.99 -- though you can try one complete lesson for free -- to treat my teens to a professional cooking lesson. But I'm hoping that next week, I won’t have to cook at all.