Monday, October 8, 2012

Community Gathering for 200

Our church has hosted a community gathering meal for years now, maybe even a decade.  It's a free meal once a week and anyone who wants to come, may.  The idea is to build bridges in the community, to get away from a soup-kitchen mentality, to focus on community (Mennonites are big on community).  Church members and neighbors come, as well as people who don't have enough money or food on their own.

Once a year, I volunteer to coordinate the meal with my Sunday School class as my crew.  I decided a menu four years ago.  It is nourishing, easy to assemble, makes trouble-free leftovers, and uses local foods, so I haven't changed the menu at all.

Per person:
1 baked potato
2/3 cup homemade chili (on top)
2 Tbsp. grated cheese (on top)
1 cup steamed broccoli
apple slices or a whole apple
piece of homemade cake
milk, coffee, and/or water

We prepare food for 200, but last week, we only served 159, so there were some leftovers.  Today I'm shredding potatoes to freeze.  They are delicious fried up as hashbrowns at breakfast, or used in all the homey casseroles that call for a bag of "frozen hashbrowns."  I'm experimenting with freezing cooked potato cubes as well, thinking of cottage potatoes.

It's also become sort of a tradition to have creamed broccoli leaves on biscuits for breakfast at our house a few days after the community meal.  I can't bear to compost the broccoli leaves, the most nutritious part of the vegetable, but they're not appetizing to the general public and way too many for me to eat by myself.


Jacinta said...

Woah a meal for 200?! You are seriously amazing to even CONSIDER planning a menu for that... I wouldn't know what to do. :)

Lisa said...

So Margo - you are shredding the leftover cooked potatoes, not raw ones, right? You have so many good ideas.

A community meal to get away from the soup kitchen to get away from a soup kitchen mentality - what a terrific thought!!

Margo said...

Lisa, thank you. And yes, I am freezing cooked potatoes. The shredded potatoes will be fine from the freezer, but I'm experimenting with cubes. I don't freeze soups with potato cubes because the potatoes turn a strange texture. Most vegetables need to be cooked before being frozen; raw potatoes would probably oxidize and turn black.

Daughter Fish said...

What a great tradition. It reminds me a little of this cookbook I once ran across that had a list of food for a barn raising. The quantities of all the dishes were staggering! I'll have to try the creamed broccoli. I also hate wasting any greens, and the broccoli is so beautiful right now!

Margo said...

Daughter Fish, that sounds like the Mennonite Community cookbook! A fascinating read.

Unknown said...

Great shot of your kids eating in their jammies :)

Rachel said...

ooh, i have to know how you make the creamed broccoli leaves. i have to say that my very tolerant hubby gave me a questioning look when i mentioned it :)

Margo said...

Rachel, I know it sounds weird!It's basically creamed dried beef gravy with veggies (the leaves, here) instead of the beef. It's a white sauce with extras.

jenny_o said...

It sounds delicious, and you've packed in a lot of nutrition.

Polly said...

This is impressive. ANd I really appreciate and like the sense of community your church fosters. That's uncommon, I feel, in this day and age.