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!