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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Feeding the Multitudes, Part I

My church is full of music- and food-lovers. During term time, there is an Evensong service once a month, followed by an organ recital on our mighty Flentrop by a guest organist, followed by an extremely festive reception in the social hall. This attracts a number of people who are not regularly part of our parish, who like Evensong (with incense, great early music), organ music, or both, especially when followed by FREE FOOD.

(BTW, if you're around Berkeley, and interested, by all means drop me a line for the details. We'd love to see you!)

I was blown away by the quality of the spread the first time I went; mind you, I knew the parish had good eats, but it was really quite impressive. As I have become more involved, I expressed interest in helping out with this. Last night I was finally able to not only make it to the service, but be part of the kitchen crew.

It was a good exercise. Not only did I start learning where things are in the social hall kitchen, the crew is fun, and I got the gratifying feedback of seeing my efforts devoured as if by a Biblical horde of locusts. I had thought, no way are people going to eat this all, but I was so wrong. It was amazing.

The woman who organizes these receptions has been doing this for a while and is a real pro. She is pleasant to work for and well organized. She had shopped well and done some prep work at home, but a lot of it got assembled on site, or was otherwise made from raw ingredients.

She also executed a great save; she had forgotten to put the yeast in the pizza dough, which she realized when she checked its rising and it hadn't. She proofed it out, kneaded it in with some more flour, and it worked! Yeah, Nancy! You rock!

Le Menu:

Savories:

Curried chicken salad sandwiches (cut in triangles, of course)
Rosemary foccacia and olive oil
Hummus and pita (raided from the sacistry... someone had accidentally purchased garlic pita to use for communion, so we ate what didn't get consecrated in the morning)
Olives
Crudite platter - yellow bells, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, with garlicky sauteed green beans in the center (this looked stunning)
Ranch dip
Hot artichoke dip
Brie and bleu cheese
Baguette slices
Devilled eggs
Polenta squares topped with goat cheese and sun-dried tomato
Cocktail weiners in barbeque sauce
Guacamole and tortilla chips
Pizza topped with chopped red bell peppers and onions
(brought out after most of the other food had disappeared and pounced on with glad cries)

On the dessert table:

Brownies
Banana bread
Molasses bread
Valentine candy (left over from coffee hour)
Lemon cake squares topped with custard and a raspberry

Wine and punch

I was a bit discombobulated at the end of this and shouldn't really have gone out of the kitchen except to serve, as I ended up asking one of the gentlemen in the schola (music group) if he was a regular part of the parish (ooops). I accentuated this somewhat by getting a tiny bit squiffy on the last of the Two-Buck Chuck.

I also attended the entire Evensong service (although I shot out of there pretty rapidly at the end) and about half of the organ recital.

I say "Part I" as I am going to be spending a lot of next weekend cooking at the church. More on that later.

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