Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's a matter of......planning

(Image courtesy of

Aren't young Cub scouts wonderful? They are so excited to learn and do so many things. Yesterday, the LRH had the opportunity to plan and cook breakfast and lunch for ~160 Webelo's (which included their fathers, and the staff). There were some very hungry scouts there! And as a credit to their parents, they were respectful and expressed thanks as well.

As you might expect, I did not do this alone. My thanks goes to my husband, 17 y.o. son (who cooked pancakes before he went to teach his class) and the many other volunteers who took the time to help. A father from the Alpine 5th ward stepped in to help with pancakes as he said he was really good at cooking them. No kidding......he was right! We couldn't have done it without him.

What does this have to do with Food Storage and Emergency Preparedness? Well, the answer is "Plenty"! I was given the number of individuals who had signed up (on line) to attend by Friday afternoon. That number was 160. I was also told that 2-3 individuals would be coming to assist with the meals. I needed everyone of them and then some as it turned out.

I had already made a simple menu (as LRH had family here, and had had a very busy week!). We were having pancakes, bacon, fruits (strawberries and grapes were reasonably priced), and a choice of drink (hot chocolate, milk, or orange drink). For lunch the plan was for hamburgers, chips, baby carrots, brownies and a drink.

Sounds pretty straight-forward doesn't it? Initially it was. However, overnight, the number of individuals attending had risen...but LRH did not know that. (Remember that registration was taking place on line). The following is a lesson on being creative, not getting overwhelmed, and enjoying the journey.

When we arrived at the pavilion, we found that someone else had their equipment inside. Also, someone had left trash in the trashcan and had not emptied it the night before. As you can imagine, the animals had tipped the can over and had strewn trash about the pavilion. By now, you know that LRH is a bit on the OCD side. I pulled out my disposable gloves and went about picking up the trash as my son and husband began unloading the truck with supplies. After the trash was gathered, a gentleman approached us and informed us that they had been assigned us of the pavilion that morning. We thought we had it. My husband went to talk with the caretaker and the gentleman was correct. We had been assigned this particular pavilion for lunch and a different one for breakfast.

We had already lost about 20 minutes at this point. We loaded the supplies back into the truck & went to another pavilion that was without serving tables, or a sink...but it did have running water...(be grateful for all blessings!) It had traditional picnic tables. We moved things to make room for our camp stoves and began setting up. We had lost nearly 30 minutes at this point. Good people jumped in and we had the bacon going and were setting up the drink coolers, turning picnic tables into serving tables, and mixing the pancake mix. I took an electric hand mixed and a wire whisk. We did have power and we mixed the pancake mix and began cooking.

Those of you who have cooked outside know that you have to "mess with" the flame when using a griddle. So, more precious time was fleeting away. However, individuals jumped in (including the brother from Alpine ward who was there with his son), and the assembly line was going. As it was cold, there were few in numbers initially, so we were a bit more generous thinking that we might be low on attendees. Listen....never do this! We were hit hard at the end of breakfast and were out of fruit. The LRH had also forgotten the last carton of eggs (they were in the refrigerator in the garage). This mean the last pancake mix box wouldn't have eggs. So we experimented and found that you can make pancakes out of Bisquick mix and long as you mix it with the other batter that you already had. I considered this another lesson in the "Loaves and Fishes" as we were all surprised that it was successful.

After breakfast, you can imagine that we had a bit of a mess from the pancake mix and bacon grease. It was cleaned up quickly, but some of the volunteers who came to help with the meal only thought their assignment was to serve food and left before the clean up was done.

I didn't want to move the "kitchen", so we got permission to stay where we were for lunch. Now, I told you we were having Hamburgers for lunch. We had purchased precooked hamburger patties from Sysco. They were wonderful. The LRH had previously attended a cookout at a large company party and really liked the hamburgers. I was informed that they were precooked. The leader of our Webelo's woods was able to get them for us. Here is why they are so great. First, they are flavorful. They are fully cooked and you just fry them quickly. There is no worry about offering undercooked food. There is no shrinkage of the patty, and no grease splattering about.

I had purchased a case of traditional frozen patties as a "just in case" item. We needed them, and were very surprised at how messy they were to cook and how long it took to cook them after we had been spoiled by the Sysco patties. If you are wondering how the Sysco burgers were received, we had many requests for seconds.

So you remember that I mentioned brownies? I had purchased "Little Debbie" brownies (I had a budget to keep) and the box says 12 to a box. Lesson to be learned the box and see what they mean by "12". We had to cut the brownies in half to get the "12". You really need 2 of these to get a good sized brownie. So, we would purchase twice as many if we were going to get them again. Surprisingly, this was the most requested item if there were seconds available!

Again, after the meal was done, the volunteers who had been assigned to help with the meal left before clean-up was completed. It seems they were not aware that their help would be needed to clean and pack up.

So, what does this have to do with Food Storage? Well, you need a menu!, you need to know how many you are planning for (and have a little extra for surprises!), you need to make sure you have the provisions you planned for (remember the eggs I left in the refrigerator?), you need to make sure that you have experience with the foods you are choosing (remember the brownies?), try new things (the beef patties), and inform others what their responsibilities are and what you expect from them.

Finally, it rained really hard and I only had planned on Hot Chocolate for breakfast. Have some comfort foods (and probably more than you think you need) for times of stress.

We had a great time, had a "Loaves and fishes" experience, & in the end learned to roll with the punches. I hope the scouts and their fathers had a great day. I appreciated the experience, working with nice people, and learned some very important lessons.

Now, an assignment for you.....go out and try a new product that you haven't tried before. Find out how to use it. Experiment with it when you don't need it so that when you do, you will have the comfort and experience to provide for your family.

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