Stirring the Pot

Nutrition AccomplishedOne week past the momentous do-or-die meeting, Natasha felt accomplished. She had successfully introduced eco-friendly, biodegradable to-go lunches to the club, with the help of Bernadette and a troop of willing volunteers. As she looks back, the feeling in the kitchen that day was calming. The group lent helping hands that not only contributed to the completion of the meal, but also to Natasha’s peace-of-perfectionist mind. Surprisingly, the looming budget was demolished by simple ingredients. Freshly made French Apple chicken sausage was found at Sprouts, where organic carrots and potatoes were too reasonably priced to pass, and Stater Bros supplied the remaining components. Interestingly enough, Stater Bros is the largest private supermarket chain in Southern California, with roots originating in the region during the Great Depression. The kitchen manager enjoys the local aspect of Stater Bros, although they do not exclusively source all of their products from California. Apples were then kindly discounted from the Cal Poly Farm Store to finish off the modest meal. In limiting the number of ingredients, and making sure to only purchase the most sensible items, Natasha was able to feed 75 people for an astonishing $80.06! Safely in thrift-mode and armed with a regular collection of 5 volunteers, the only things that left an after-taste were wasted utensils (unused spoons and knives that come in each utensil pack along with a napkin) and  disappointing under cooked vegetables.

Demonstrating the proverbial suggestion that as one believe in yourselfdoor closes, another opens, FN Forum meetings were chock-full of doors. Overcoming one obstacle unearthed 5 more than expected. But fret not, the adventurous and open-minded student felt as if these challenges were exactly what she needed. Every experience was lending itself to a growing knowledge, something that only comes with kneading the dough yourself. Surely, a vow of commitment to extraordinary food would result in the annihilation of any difficulties encountered by the band of brave kitchen volunteers. This renewed confidence motivated Natasha to come up with a fun way to continue her flair for the foreign.

She had recently tasted Brazilian BBQ and instantly fell in love! A variety of different meats were brought to the table on stainless steel skewers as long as your arm. These delicious delicacies were then paired with fresh green salads, rice, beans, and a multitude of fruit and vegetable choices. Not to mention: chimichurri sauce. After first dabbing a hunk of sirloin steak into the magnificent mixture of fresh herbs and oil, Natasha proceeded to pour the contents of the ramekin atop her entire plate, which included mashed potatoes, black beans, and sliced tomatoes. YUM!

The delighted meal planner began researching a variety of traditional Brazilian foods. Apparently, rice and beans make up the basics of most customary dishes. “The rice may be a little tricky, but the beans shouldn’t be a problem,” she thought. Cooking rice for 60 people could take a lot of time. Yes, this is lower than the 75 servings from the previous meeting. Due to leftover accumulation, serving size was smaller than it could have been, plating time took longer than it should have been, and to-go boxes were wasted. Alas, the show must go on, on to protein that is. What meat could be used to represent the BBQ experience best? Clearly, beef. Natasha trembled at the thought of budgeting 60 servings of red meat. Rough estimates declared over half of the budget to one ingredient alone.

Here in lies the continual struggle of the housewife, the busy single parent, the stressed out college student, the newlyweds, the old retired veteran, and so many more. In a world of overabundance and instant gratification, how can anyone conquer the food giant, with his tentacles wrapped around our hearts in food fightthe form of French fries? The only guaranteed solution illuminated a quaint vision in Natasha’s mind. Cows grazing on green pastures, a happily plump woman wearing a floral apron as she pulls an apple pie out of the oven, and an old truck in the dirt driveway with a tendency to break down on the 20 minute drive to town. But this is the mission of those with a passion for food, to help the modern world reconnect with the joy of feeding themselves. No longer is the simple, country life the only option. The current generation is too creative to idly stand by, manipulated by convenience, distracted by shiny objects containing a plethora of diversions, i.e. Candy Crush.

Presently, the self-proclaimed foodie decides to take matters into her own hands. To remain true to both the Brazilian tradition and her budget, while providing big flavor and satisfying amounts, what will be the final product? The bothersome utensil overload was still hanging overhead as well. Will the eager kitchen manager finally master the meeting meal, or will uncertainty prove to stir the pot of madness? Not to worry, chimichurri sauce will definitely be incorporated.

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