March 13th, 2010

camp cook

Pass me some of that Methodist Holy Water, wouldja?

We went to Browstown last night to celebrate Phred's 60th birthday. He says he is now middle aged, since he always planned to live to be 120; I say he is middle aged because he was born in the Middle Ages. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, I know.

Anyway, we got home way late, and I'm only now fully functional. Had my shower, took my pills, had something to eat, gave Sassy her pills, nudged Deanne, read my e-mail . . . I could still use some more coffee, though.

Scouters from all over are descending upon us soon. Boy Scout and Cub Scout Leader training begins at the church at 1:00 p.m. The Venturers come in at 2:30 to cook for the Wapehani District Recognition Dinner, to be served at 6:00. I'm going to be beaten to a frappe by the time this day is over -- and, of course, we "spring forward" an hour tonight, and everybody loses a night's sleep.

Nevertheless, I shall rejoice. (Just 'cause it beats the alternative.)

Returning to the idea of coffee . . . We all know that the introduction of coffee helped fuel the explosion of discoveries, inventions, and new social organizations we call the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Considering that Methodism arose in that environment, could we perhaps say that coffee also stimulated that spiritual movement? It certainly seems to be necessary to stimulate Methodists today.
roadkill soup

Eat, drink, and be merry

I got my stuff over to the church about noon today; Charles and Linda were already there, ready to start setting up for training. I made coffee and got the training folks settled into rooms where they could do their classes. We had three groups: Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters; Cubmasters and Pack Committee Chairs; Den Leaders.

After getting them settled in, I proceeded to piddle around the kitchen, getting ready for the big push when the Venturers arrived. Shortly before 2:00 p.m., I started the roast beef. I had five 2.5-3 lb. rump roasts, which I browned up a bit in my 24" cast iron skillet. Then I divided them between two roaster ovens and added liquid and spices. I'd tell you what I added, but I'm afraid that's proprietary knowledge. You understand, I'm sure.

Just as I was finishing that, Ben came in, ready to work. Jordan followed soon after. I got them working on frosting. We had your basic half-acre yellow cake I'd made the day before (overloaded with vanilla, because I forgot I was using concentrated essence of vanilla, not vanilla extract -- an example of serendipity). Ben whipped three pounds of confectioner's sugar into a half pound of butter (plus the vanilla essence), then we added enough milk to get the right consistency. Meanwhile, Jordan chopped up a large bar of bittersweet chocolate, which we sprinkled over the frosted cake.

In the end, we had some amazing roast beef. For the (instant) mashed potatoes, we made a brown gravy from a mix with only half the water; after it thickened, we filled up the other half of the volume with the braising liquid from the beef (dyn-o-mite!). We made a couple of metric boatloads of salad. We had green beans. We made dinner rolls (from scratch, thank you very much). As people started drifting in for the District Recognition Dinner, they all had this famished look on their faces, saying things like, "This church smells amazing! It hit us even before we came in the doors!" As they were chowing down, a Cub Scout got up to get more rolls. I heard him tell his mother, "They look home-made!" (If you only knew, kid.)

One special note: The District Chairman's wife used to cook at the Abe Martin Lodge in Brown County. As a good Scouter's wife, she came prepared to help in the kitchen. She was pleasantly surprised to see that everything was well in hand. And her praise for the food was a compliment that I took at a just value. (Yeah!)

The Venturers worked hard. They worked effectively. They worked together. They not only put out all this fantastic food, they cleaned everything up. We were all very tired when we were done. I am enormously proud of all of them: Ben; Jordan; Makayla (and little brother Michael subbing for Mom, who's home sick); Kaleb; Connor; and fellow adult Scott. Good job!