Friday LLT had the joy of shopping for two events, the team wench Privateer Feast and Kingdom A&S Lunch next Saturday. The new freezer that we bought in part with the proceeds from New Year's Eve made it possible for her to avoid two shopping trips to Virginia (Grands International Market and Resturant Depot) in a week - yay.
I talked to her a couple of times while she was shopping and she came home to tell the story of having to wheel around a shopping trolley at Resturant Depot that had been loaded up to her shoulder. She bought 80 lbs of chicken and 50 lbs of pork among other things.
When I got home we had a lovely dinner of stir fry and then headed to Sam's Club. We got there to find out we had about five minutes before they closed so we raced to get the few items we needed (my go juice, onions, orange juice and eggs). As we were standing in line LLT thought about things and decided we needed more onions than she had picked up but decided rather than running to the back of the store for another bag we'd just pick up the rest when we went to shoppers - yep that's right, we had yet another store to go to. So off we went to shoppers to get 104 raised glazed donuts, currents, cinnamon, a gallon of vanilla ice cream, 10 loaves of bread and two bags stuffed with sweet onions. While we were there we also picked up carnations in two shades of pink to decorate the kitchen.
Finally it was time to go home (yay!). We spent a bit of time pulling together all of the equipment we needed and then decompressing in front of the tv then went up to bed at about 11:30. I'd called Roxie a couple of times Friday night in my quest to get feymaker's phone number and when I got upstairs to where my phone was I found I had a message from Roxie wanting to make sure everything was okay. So that meant I didn't actually get to sleep until right about midnight since I needed to call her back.
Saturday morning LLT woke me up at 6:30 and we got all of the equipment (plus the few ingredients which had made it inside) into the car then left the house right about 7 am. The one item we hadn't pulled out the night before was the camp stove we needed to do the tableside bananas foster. LLT thought it was in the shop but she couldn't find it that morning. So we ended up doing a quick ride by Walmart to hit the camping supply area. Luckily we were able to find a nice one for $20.
We'd left so early because LLT and I have a tradition of going out to breakfast before working in a kitchen the whole day. So once we hit College Park we went straight to I Hop. We were done there by 8 (having expected to hit site at 10). We stopped to get Starbucks and ended up being the first of the staff on site at 9 am. We did have help unloading everything though because Jamie (?) showed up before we had a chance to take anything out of the car.
Once inside we got set up and organized. Then LLT started chopping the chicken and I started on the onions. It seemed to take forever and a day for her to break apart all of the pieces and skin them. During that time I chopped all the sweet onions and sliced all the red ones on the mandolin. Then I started in on the peppers. I'm really not exaggerating, I was able to get half way through the case of peppers before she finished. In the middle of all this she managed to get a bone sliver imbeded in her thumb. Fortuantely Jamie had a pair of tweezers in her car first aid kit. LLT had chosen this chicken because of it's inexpensive price but we have decided that in the future it's worth a bit more money to buy the skinless boneless thighs instead. It just takes too much effort for the price.
While LLT was working on the chicken she started pre-heating the ovens. All of the sudden we noticed that the kitchen was filled with smoke. When LLT checked she noticed that one of the ovens needed cleaning very badly. It got to the point that we ended up refering to that oven as "smokey". We ended up turning on the fan vent and opening the back door. I was happy once LLT turned the fan on because the sweet onions we got from Shoppers were causing major tears on my part. Usually I don't have problems with SWEET onions but I think these were very fresh. Every time I cut the root an onion the juices would pool at that point. Once the fan was on it became much easier to chop the onions. In contrast the ones from Sam's club were much easier to chop because the fumes were less.
As LLT finished each set of two pans of chicken she put them in the oven then doing the next two pans and repeating the process until all six pans of chicken were done. At the end of the first box she calculated that we had about 120 pieces of chicken (legs and thighs). Our numbers had been based on a) the numbers from last year (30 lbs of ham and 120 of turkey with lots of turkey leftovers), b) the impression that there would be a fair number of vegitarians and c) having been told that some people actually bring their own food. The chicken came in 40 lb boxes which pretty much meant I estimated we would either be about 10 lbs short of chicken or 30 lbs over. That combined with the fact that a trip to Resturant Depot and back would take at least an hour caused us to decide that we should go with the amount of chicken we had.
I should say something about the menu. Many of you may not know this but one of my best friends is allergic to onions. Since I found that out we have met more and more people with the same issue to the point that we found two more people yesterday with onion sensitivity. webqatch had made a point of wanting to know what ingredients were in the various dishes because he said there were a lot of people with allergies to come to this event. So LLT planned the menu to take such things into account. The Chickpea curry recipe, which was the vegetarian entree, originally was supposed to have onions in it. LLT changed the recipe to use garlic instead. The Carnitas were served with onions and bell peppers, but each portion of that dish was cooked and served individually. Also I made a tray of the salad which did not include onions in case anyone wanted some (we had the announcer say something about coming to the kitchen if anyone wanted salad without onions - next time we serve that salad I think we'll just set make it half with and half without and serve both selections). We also had both corn and wheat flour tortilla shells.
The reason I think to bring this up now, is because of the carnitas. LLT usually cooks the pork in beer, which has hops. In order to make life easier for anyone with a wheat allergy she decided to use ham stock instead. Excpet that when she looked at the ingredients on the stock it had something that was wheat related so she decided to use balsamic vinegar instead. So we mixed the vinegar with a little bit of water. Yumm...I'm beginning to think that LLT can do no wrong when it comes to roasting pork. She slow roasted the pork for about four hours and while it never got to "fall apart tender" it was very nummy.
We made two huge stock pots of the chickpea and potato curry which went really well. So well in fact that we had less than a quarter of a pot of curry left by the end of the evening. At that it was the thing we had the most left of as we ran out of first chicken then pork. LLT said that even the bread pudding was completely gone by the end of the night and that she saw people putting the rum sauce on every dessert that was served. I should mention that I made the rum sauce myself. I kinda used the recipe as a list of ingredients and "winged it". In my defense, it said "Rum to taste" so I kept adding rum until I could taste it. By the time I gave LLT a taste she coughed from the rum flavor. :)
Oh, the other thing that we had a bit left over of - the raspberry sorbet. We kinda forgot to put that out until the dinner portion of the evening was more than half over and I'm fairly sure that we had a lot left. I think next time we plan such a feast we'll figure out something else to serve.
I have to say something about the Kitchen Staff. That something is Wow! They were great. We had Lynne, Chris and his wife Misty in there helping us from the time we got back until the event was over. Anything we needed done they were there to do. It made things wonderful and LLT and I have both told them all that they are welcome in any kitchen LLT is running anytime.
Misty took breaks to make sure the event was well photographed including getting shots of the action in the kitchen. She was also in charge of grilling all of the onions I'd chopped (which filled three plastic grocery bags). Chris chopped hearts of palm, opened cans of artichockes, helped tear up the donuts for the bread pudding and sliced up meat. He also traded places with LLT at some point so she could slice meat while he grilled the green peppers. Lynne sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and bread and made sure any dish we used was clean before I could look for it again. I'm sure there were dozens of little things that each of them did that I didn't see - not the least of which was on top of things so that during service all I had to do was alert the kitchen of what was low and the next thing I knew food was replenished. Not only that, when the feasting was over Chris stayed in the kitchen until every last thing was cleaned and put away. I'm not saying that he and LLT were alone in the kitchen during cleanup, far from it Misty and Lynne were in there as well, but Chris especially impressed me because he stayed in the kitchen with LLT even after the cleanup was done to the point of helping us take stuff out to the car when it was time to leave.
I shouldn't forget to mention that this was all for a fundraiser. One of the things going on during the evening was a set of "paper bag" raffles. You bought tickets, put your name on them and then put the tickets into the paper bags for the items you wanted. Then they pulled the names and wrote them on poster board so that people knew what they'd won. I bought 10 raffle tickets each for LLT and me and then we ended up getting 3 that LLT put "OTCreations" on. We didn't win anything, but we had something very cool happen. I'd mentioned to one of the people running the raffle that almost all of my tickets had gone into the raffle for a pair of silver sword hairsticks (museclio says they come from a guy who sells at Sterling Renn). I didn't win them (in fact neither of us won anything). However after the raffles were over Misty came back and said that she had won several raffles including the hairsticks. She'd mentioned to the raffle people that she didn't know when she'd actually wear them and was told that I'd been lusting over them. So she gave them to me! She offered to give LLT a pair of earrings but we told her that LLT and I would share the hairsticks - we have a tendancy to share all the hairsticks in the house. So for the rest of the night LLT wore one and I wore the other. It was very cool.
The other nice thing that happened was I got to listen to some really great music. The nice thing about being the person watching the table is that it meant I was out front and could hear. I also got to go out into the front once the feast was over so I got to hear almost all of the acts. I have to say that everyone I heard was really great. While I know that at least one of the groups is very new, I'm going to have to look to see if any of the groups have CDs (besides the Pyrates Royale - I already have all of theirs).
All in all the event was very cool and I loved it. LLT and I have already expressed an interest in helping to cook next year if they want us back. Here's hoping they do. In the meantime, for those of you who missed out on a chance to donate for the worthy cause, here is a link to museclio's Avon Walk donation page.
1) even if we're cooking the feast we should bring a certain amount of feast gear (I probably would have eaten a bit more if I'd had a fork and bowl)
2) Food estimates from previous years don't always work
3) Buying chicken that needs to be cut up more isn't always worth the money saved.
4) Make sure you put out all the desserts
5) We should invest in a large coffee pot for events
6) We'll always forget some piece of equipment (like measuring cups)
7) labeling the tortilla shells (each wrapped in foil) would have saved some minor irritation
8) Make sure we have enough serving untensils so the line can go down both sides of the table.
9) LLT really wanted someone whos job was to tell us what was going on in the front of house.
last) Team Wench is AWESOME
For the record since those two websites are eventually going to go away here are the menus:
Orange Cinnamon Chicken
Carnitas with bell peppers and onions
Potato Chick Pea Curry
Salad (tomatoes, red onion, cucumber and hearts of palm)
Black Beans and Rice
Bread Pudding with Butter Rum Sauce
This dessert will be served for one lucky table,
the winners in the first raffle of the evening
Kingdom A&S Lunch:
Shrimp with white sauce
Creamy Cheesy Things
Honey Saffron Cake
Ice Tea & Sweet Raspberry Ice Tea