Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cooking for Thirty... or My Goose Is Cooked

It is Saturday afternoon.  I need to study my German,  but I am distracted with a responsibility I have 'volunteered' to do.  Come to think of it....Rae is the one who 'volunteered' me. 

From June 16-23 the Cuyamungue Institute is having a Centennial Celebration, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founder, Felicitas Goodman.  I have written about the institute a few times, but not sure I have described the facilities.  We are nestled on about 250 acres of land just north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  In fact we are surrounded by the Pojoaque Pueblo.  We are a small non-profit that runs workshops and does continuing research on body postures depicted in ancient art.
This is a bird's eye view of Cuyamungue Institute. 

I will write some day about the work...but this post is about our facilities...and my concern about my responsibility.  I (Rae) volunteered to be in charge of food.  This may sound like an exciting challenge for those who enjoy cooking and entertaining.  Too bad my niece is getting married this summer or my sister could have saved me.  But she has set aside June for helping Maggie finalize wedding plans....leaving me (along with Rae) to prepare menus and food for about thirty people for seven days. (Normally, our workshops are limited to 10-12 people because of the size of our facilities.)

I put out a plea on Facebook...asking for advice...recipes...menus...anything.   I still am not sure of serving sizes. So how much should I prepare?  I received great ideas and plan to use a few.  One person even remembered Maxine's Chicken Casserole for 30 and suggested that. I also have three great helpers...people who have prepared meals for workshops at the institute and know our limitations. 

We try to have vegetarian menus during workshops....but sometimes prepare chicken that can be added.  I am concerned that there will be people coming with food allergies that I can not address. I wonder how the preparation of the meals can be done in our small kitchen.  We have one kitchen...average sized...one refrigerator and one stove.  We have enough plates, bowls and flatware for 24 people....so I will need to purchase a couple more place settings.  Our dining area can seat 12...so some of the participants will have to use the outside picnic tables....or maybe eat in shifts.
This is our dining table....not large enough for 30 people.
We use this counter as a space for buffet type serving.  Here, Rae is organizing
the cups at the tea station.  We will have to move the tea station to the
outer room so the cooks will have room in the kitchen.

So, those are my concerns...and this is a really boring post, but my head can't stop thinking about menus and food portions.  Will our pots and pans be large enough?  How much is enough?  Will people be happy with soups and salads?  We will have fresh fruits, nuts, chips and salsa out for snacking.  Should I worry about pack rats?...probably not...with so many people there, the pack rats may leave the area.  Will we have enough or will we end up with too many leftovers?  Questions, questions and more questions....but I keep telling myself that things will work out...what will be will be.
Cleaning up after dinner....you can see the small space for
preparing for a large group.

Hmmmm.....maybe I should take the advice of one of my former students....order pizzas!  No...back to my planning....a trip to Costco to make a list for the week....and be thankful that everyone coming to the celebration will be there to celebrate....and have all been there....so they know we have a few limits on what we can do.  I will take pictures and write a blog after this so you will know if I survived.


  1. You certainly have a challenge ahead of you! I loved your title. :-) Sounds like you will be making several trips to the store during this time. I think you will do great because the hard part is the planning and you've been doing lots of that. Can't wait to read how it all went.

  2. What a great challenge! I'm remembering my love of New Mexico as I read about your work. Sounds wonderful :)

  3. I'm sure that whatever food is served will be appreciated. You are putting a great deal of thought and planning into this project, so you can't mess up. Did you every think about asking the participants to help with the cooking. Getting together in the kitchen is one of the most fun ways to get to know people.

    1. You are right, we do involve the participants with cooking and clean up. It provides a great way to getto know each other...and everyone likes to take part. We have a sign up sheet, that way those who like cleaning more than cooking...or vice verse get to decide where and how they help.

  4. It is so nice to have friends who volunteer us.:-) This post mad me think of my dad who was a cook in the army. I recently came across his cookbook...what an eye opener. Recipes ranged from cooking chicken for 150 people to making 30 pies for dessert. I would hate to try to rewrite these for just one of something.

    I am sure that you will do well...food will be delicious and there will be plenty to go around. Good luck.

  5. Wow. What a wonderful thing to be a part of - I hope that you will slice all about it.

  6. You are correct, Jackie. I would love to be there to do the cooking! You will do just fine though.....and Maxine's chicken dish is pretty yummy and has the added feature of a "back story". :)

  7. Planning, worrying and preparing - it will all work out and everyone will be happy. After all is said and done, you'll be asking yourself: "What was all the worry about?". Looking forward to reading about the end result.

  8. YIKES, you certainly have a big job ahead of you! I suspect you might visit COSTCO more than once! I wish you good luck and lots of food in the days ahead!