I had the most fun for 10 days through the 4th of July! My sister and hubby manage a fireworks store each year. My mother caters the food for 18-20 people for the 10 days North Dakota allows fireworks sales to residents. This year my mother fell and cracked a rib just before she was to start cooking! Poor Mom was in too much pain and couldn’t feed the masses.
I stepped in to cater the food this year since I wasn’t working. I spent 2 days finding recipes and redoing the schedule here and there to fit in recipes I was more familiar with. I then headed down to Fargo with a car full of clothes and my own favorite cooking utensils. I spent 11 days making 2 meals a day for 20 people! It’s a courtesy service they provide for the mostly young adults that work each year at the store. The store is so very busy those 10 days that it is uber handy that they can grab snacks and meals without having to drive back into town.
I actually started a day early with a last minute request to make dinner for the employees. I threw together my family’s favorite casserole, Grandpa Lowell’s Bacon Tomato Hotdish. I baked a quick batch of pumpkin cookies with white chips for dessert and headed over to the store, a 5 mile drive. Dinner was a hit and I was on my way to spending 10 more days cooking and driving back and forth to the store. I put on almost 700 miles in those 10 days!
The employees were all so friendly and complimentary. Working 14 hour days most days was so exhausting I fell into bed every night. But the feedback, the compliments, all made up for it. Everyone loved my food! I individually wrapped cookies and other treats so that they were easy to grab on breaks and take back to the checkout registers. One day I made turkey and cheese sandwiches on thin buns.
The dessert for that meal were cookies again, this time M & M cookies. I’ve made them often over the years and have always liked them even more than chocolate chip cookies. They’re just sort of more fun, with the bright colors and milk chocolate!
They have a tradition at the store of having sausage gravy on biscuits. I made it twice in the food rotation, and can now say I’ve got it down and can make it from scratch without the recipe. I used venison sausage as well as a regular breakfast sausage. The people loved the gravy on big buttermilk biscuits. I feel guilty to admit I didn’t make them myself, but they don’t seem to mind. Pillsbury has those Grands perfected and oh so easy to bake!
The former food schedule had listed white chili but I suggested a chicken chili for a change. Linda agreed on the change and I made the shredded chicken chili that is one of our family favorites. I served cornmeal muffins to accompany the chili. The recipe, from my brother Glenn, is one of their yearly favorites. I’ll make it soon and post the recipe. It’s just delicious and plenty moist with the addition of sour cream and creamed corn to the recipe!
One of the new recipes I used was Fritos Bars. Everyone usually wrinkles their nose when I mention the bars but end up being huge fans. They’re very similar to Special K bars, with Fritos instead of Special K cereal. Slightly more salty but the combo of salty and sweet make these bars so amazing!
I could ramble on for hours about the food, the wonderful compliments on the food and how much fun I had cooking all of the foods! I could also whine about how many times a day I washed out 2 or 3 crock pots and refilled them with yet another food for the next meal. I needed two large crock pots per meal to feed 20 people, with very little leftover. Most meals they were scraped clean!
My sister Linda totally loves my banana bread recipe. My entire family loves it, but Linda’s the one who buys a mountain of bananas and casually asks me to make the bread for her when I visit. She freezes it and enjoys it for months. I just had to slide banana bread into the desserts schedule. True to form, they made it disappear super fast and gave me kudos on the flavor.
I made lasagna soup for lunch the last day and that might have been the biggest hit. I received so many compliments on what is one of my favorite soups as well! I served the soup with breadsticks and lots of fresh watermelon. Cutting up 3 whole watermelons was an experience I’m not looking to repeat soon! That day, the 4th, I felt every year of my age.
I drove home happy that they’d liked all of my foods and desserts. Although I feel bad that my mother couldn’t do the catering this year, I was happy to have been able to experience such a unique opportunity! I would be happy to be back in my own kitchen and back in my own bed. Back home to gardening in the heat. And time to visit Starbucks.