A weekend in the kitchen!

[my friday night: livin’ it up with a pan of veggies]

This weekend I cooked for a men’s retreat we hosted here at camp. It was supposed to be around 20 people but the number that showed up was only 12 (it’s common for that to happen, unfortunately). It was a men’s small group from a church in the area. They were really cool guys and some of them were crazy about food. As in, asking about dinner while sitting down to lunch. Wow. :-)

I enjoy all of the work I do here (well, mostly — there are a few things I just TRY to enjoy!), but one of my favorite things has to be cooking for retreats. We just started hosting retreats this fall, and we had one each month from September through November. Hopefully that ministry will continue to grow as more people hear about us and book retreats for next spring and fall. Ben and I have been hosting them pretty much on our own, which works out because the groups are small. We had a campout for 50 fathers and sons last month and we needed help for that. But our other groups have been small, which is fine with us.

I love to cook, so cooking for retreats isn’t too hard for me. Once I became familiar with all the machines and gadgets in the industrial kitchen I was good to go. The hours can be long, I have to get up early, and after a weekend my feet really hurt. :-P But I think it’s worth it, most of the time I enjoy it a lot, and it’s fun to see everyone enjoying the food and that being a part of their experience. Plus it really helps out the group’s leader to not have to worry about any of the food for the weekend. Ben takes care of the activities, I feed them, and that leaves them to be able to spend their time interacting with the group.

As I said, this particular group was REALLY into food. They were hungry dudes. Here’s what I made for them:

Lunch on Saturday:

Homemade chicken soup
Make-your-own sandwich bar

Dinner on Saturday:

Homemade lasagna
Caesar salad
Garlic bread
Cheesecake with caramel drizzle

(Then they had s’mores and hot chocolate at the bonfire later that night)

Breakfast on Sunday

Homemade pancakes, blueberry & plain
Scrambled eggs
OJ and coffee

Pretty good eatin’ huh? I made so much food. SO. MUCH. FOOD. I was surrounded by food all weekend. It takes time to cook for that many hungry men, especially when you make things from scratch. For the chicken soup, I chopped vegetables for an hour and a half! I think it’s so worth it, though, because everything tastes so much better.

It was nice that everything was so well received. I’ve never had a group of people so excited about my cooking. They were all really grateful. It was so sweet; I was really touched. One man even asked me if the chicken soup was a “special family recipe.” Except I didn’t actually use a recipe, haha. I started telling him about the necessity of fresh garlic and herbs in soup and he got an awkward look on his face and I remembered (too late) that probably he was just giving me a compliment and didn’t care about how much thyme the soup contained. Duh. Ooops. :-P

Since we worked Friday night (setting up), all day Saturday, and Sunday morning ….. we’re taking the day off today off! Yay!! We’ll probably spend most of the time writing papers for seminary. The end of the semester approacheth. But hopefully we will have time for some fun too. I hope you all have a wonderful start to your week!

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