Years ago, two friends and I catered for several years- mostly for weddings and banquets. My husband, an accountant, figured we were working for far less than minimum wage, but we laughed lots, learned lots, trained our daughters, met lovely people and cooked some memorable meals. I developed the menus, another managed our finances and the third cleaned a kitchen like the famous white tornado of commercial fame. I’ve never completely retired. Friends are still able to coax me into helping out with the occasional wedding or party and I have agreed, now, partly for the joy of having my grands involved in the process.
Boy did we have a lot to learn. When we were ironing out the details to cater to our first wedding, the bride’s mother asked if we would recommend a bakery for the cake. I said I could do it (it couldn’t be THAT hard.) It took me the better part of a week with a few horrifying detours, but eventually, my first wedding cake was complete, beautiful and delicious.
When we presented the parents with the bill after the wedding – the mother of the bride protested, “You didn’t say the cake would be extra.”
And she was absolutely right. But we did in the future.
But my favorite cooking experience was for neither family, friends nor special event. For several years I cooked at the men’s shelter in our city and it brought me enormous satisfaction to prepare tasty and healthy meals for the men there. I smiled at and addressed each man by name as I served him. Well prepared food is a way of honoring people and perhaps no one needs that more than people who are broken, despised, and homeless.
Bizarrely, every time I slipped my key into the kitchen door, I felt like I was stepping into the kitchen of the best restaurant in town. Eat your heart out Wolfgang Puck. I can say that with some assurance – these men were, bar none, the pickiest patrons, reluctant to attempt any unfamiliar food. I had to talk fast and sweet to get many a meal accepted. “Just try it – just a mouthful.” Like all of us, they soon succumbed to the power of good food plus love. A winning combination every time.
Yale Hotel Borscht When they learned that the blog I was starting would include recipes, my grandgirls insisted that I start with a some of their favorite recipes – and they have an eclectic list for me to work from. So, I’ll start with the famous Russian Borscht recipe from the Yale Hotel in Grand Forks, BC. ttps://i.pinimg.com/originals/b8/10/d7/b810d71301b31cd6c2b779bdc8ec6fef.jpg Of course I adjust this to what’s on hand but, yes, I use all that butter (and more) and I dice rather than discard the beet. Why would you? We eat this with generous dollops of sour cream and thick slices of buttered bread. This recipe makes a huge potful but it freezes well or you could invite the neighbors (after the shutdown – to celebrate). They would love it.
The Yale Hotel burned to the ground in March 2012 depriving many a traveller of an anticipated delight as they stopped for a hearty, homemade lunch. (Cafe cooking at it’s best – not a pretentious maitre de to be found.) There are many borscht recipes out there but if you have the original Yale Hotel recipe you have, in my opinion, hit pay dirt. And earthy it is, like the thrifty, hard working Eastern Europeans who created this delicious soup from their meagre resources. Enjoy!