The blessings of cooking

April 9, 2016

Y’all who have followed this blog for any length of time know that cooking is just something I love. I don’t want to pursue it as a career, but I do love cooking for others in different settings — my house, their house, you name it.

Today, the volunteer team I head and I cooked for about 40 hungry folks at Two Saints Kitchen, the joint ministry operated by my church, St. Paul United Methodist, and St. Mark’s Episcopal in the St. Mark’s fellowship hall. Long story short, we provide a free meal every Saturday at noon for anyone who shows up. And I just have to tell you what happened.

The default meal for Two Saints is spaghetti in meat sauce, with corn and green beans and French bread. It’s cheap. You can feed a lot of folks for relatively little money. But I suspect these folks, many of whom are weekly regulars, get tired of spaghetti every Saturday, so my team generally tries to do something different. Today, we were serving white bean and sausage soup.

Most of our guests ask for a take-out before they leave, and we always try to provide it. Soup’s not an easy take-out meal, as we generally don’t have the right containers for it. I had worried a bit about how we’d handle that. There’s another church in town that provides a meal Monday-Thursday. We provide one on Saturday. No one provides one on Sunday, so if these folks take a carryout, they are at least assured of a meal the next day.

As it happened, we got hit with a rush of people early on, and were fortunate the soup held out — we served all but about four servings of what I’d prepared. But lo and behold, as we were catching our breaths from the rush, here came a guy with two heaping aluminum baking pans filled with foil-wrapped smoked pork tenderloins. “Give these to the people here to take home with them,” he said. I’m not sure if anyone knows who provided them.

Every guest who left after lunch, hopefully full with white bean and sausage soup, carried a pork tenderloin with him or her. they’ll have a good meal tomorrow. Several of us volunteers left with one, as well. And a Whole Bunch were still in the church fridge when I left.

Four bowls of soup and three-quarters of a baking pan of pork tenderloins. Loaves and fishes, y’all. Loaves and fishes.

I had half of mine tonight, with potato salad and slaw, but without the Boston baked beans I was cooking to go with it that still weren’t done after two solid hours at high pressure in my Instant Pot. They’re currently on slow-cook and set to go all night; I’ll figure out tomorrow what I’ll eat with them.

If any of y’all are wondering, to make enough white bean and sausage soup for 40, you need: six pounds of dry beans, 5 1/2 pounds of smoked sausage or Italian sausage, 4 pounds of carrots, 3 pounds of onions, and about six ounces of garlic confit. And a half-gallon of ham stock. And it’ll run you a little less than $60.

I’m tired, my arthritic hip hurts like all hell, and I’m feeling just totally blessed. If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em are looking for a good cause to support, I wish you’d make it a hunger ministry in your community.

 

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