Saturday, February 02, 2008

soupy sales

At work church, there are annual events / fundraisers that entail members cooking soup or making spectacular chicken dinners. I think that is neat. Personal.

A few years ago, when the winter doldrums and the stress of life was running amuck, i decided to try starting something like that at home church.

I do some cooking at home church- enough that they have named me the Messy Chef. I don't do meals that look especially neat and put together, but if you need a comfort helping of mac and cheese, I'm your girl. Homemade chicken pot pie- yes indeed, and nolettuce salad is a big hit as well. I cook for simple church meetings and receptions. Retreats and such.

When we have special events, Nathan the chef does the "real" cooking and I get to help. I love those times because I always learn something from him. nathan is married to Libby, who is a special friend to my heart at home church. I am her self-delegated admin asst volunteer and we work together with the 2-6 graders on Wed nights as well. Mostly, we have fun just being friends. She is loving and very accepting of me.

So I decided to try selling soup one year at home church. My girls helped me pick their favorites and there we went. Black bean, vegetable beef, chili with beef and chili with veggies.

I think we sold all of 25 or 30 that first year, I don't remember now, but my goal has always been 100.

Working fulltime creates a challenge -the souping is a bit harder and has to be done on weekends or at night. I love being a part of a tradition, though. and, I find it very calming to be in the church kitchen alone working. It is a nonprescriptive calmative. The cooking feeds me without calories. I love it. Don't put me out on the serving line or in the fellowship hall please. Let me stay in the kitchen. I can breathe there.

This year, the orders started out slow. 47 after 2 weeks of announcing the annual event. Oh, i forgot to mention that the proceeds go to mission trips. Usually to the youth trip to Cuba, once to the mission trip to Zimbabwe.

So, this year was slow. Then, last week, another 52 were added. My goals had been met- close enough. I was caught up with the cooking, and shopping, and all felt good. Then, some last minute orders came in Wed night, and our totals suddenly soared to nearly 200. I was so excited so very very excited for about 30 seconds. then the brain clock started turning and panic set in.
Thursday, I worked all day. Friday, I would be spending at the hospital with my child having her ankle surgery. Sunday was soup pick up? How in the heck was I supposed to be able to put up over 100 quarts of mixed soup in one day, Saturday? OMG set in big time.

In the night, the panic eased, and I came up with a plan. I shopped Thursday night, hit the hot spots, Sams, grocery, whole foods. Friday I was attentive with my daughter, went to work for a while and then asked her what she found soothing and she recalled listeningto the sewing machine hum while she played with empty spools in the thread drawer, and she also recalled the comforting sound of hearing me cook and piddle around the kitchen. THANK YOU , GOD

So, while she dozed in her medicated pain-killer state, I brought over church pots, cans and cans of tomatoes and beans.... and I began to cook. Since she was unable to leave the couch, she was able to imagine those good days of old. She relaxed, and slept peacefully.

Had she been able to get up , she would have seen not one inch of counter space or floor space in her kitchen. With one large burner on her stove, I managed to put up 42 quarts of chili before bedtime. Her frig held 32, and I called a church friend/neighbor to please make room at the inn for 10 until

Cooking commercial in a small space is fun. Cooking over 212 quarts of soup over a month's time around working fulltime and being a busy mom is also fun. I can't believe I really got it done.
A youth who is going on that trip came and helped me today, a 97 quart day, and helped me a few weeks ago, too. She recognized the specialness of being welcomed into the messy chef cooking space, and we work so well together it was a breeze. There are several youth who do help me at times, and more who would if I asked, but to tell you the truth, I just like the peacefulness of working in the quiet. My best buddies at workchurch also offered to come help. I am blessed with friends like these. A knitting chatbuddy stopped by today to offer help as well, and was taken aback at the mass of food on the stove. I think it overwhelmed her, but I was glad she came. It felt good to have her there.

I am grateful to homechurch for letting me just cook plain messy chef fare. They don't really care what I do, and they never ask that I leave the kitchen. That suits me just fine. I'll cook whatever I can as long as I can stay in the safety of the warm kitchen. Funny the places we find respite, isn't it?

No real reason for this but to say that I can't believe I cooked so much soup, and it was so much fun.

No comments: