Sunday, April 27, 2014

How to Cook 100 Pounds of Pasta!!!

I'm still packing ... and packing!  But it's time for a break.

In the late afternoon, I was conscripted into servitude ... volunteered actually ... to go cook 100 pounds of penne pasta to feed the huge crowd at the Relay For Life event.  The Merced College stadium and track field was transformed into a walking/running marathon for two days to raise money for cancer research.  The City Fire Department donates their huge barbecue pancake grill wagon so the Elks can cook lunch, dinner and Sunday breakfast for those thousands who show up.  Luckily I missed lunch!!

The Bingo crew seem to be the ones who volunteer for all these special events, so I was asked to come help with dinner.  No problem I said ... but I'm not a great cook and I don't think you can dig a hole big enough to bury that much burned pasta!!!  I thought they probably cooked everything in the huge Elks kitchen and I would just serve it up, but I was wrong.  It's cooked fresh on the spot with the biggest pots and propane heating elements I've ever seen.  These same pots are also used for the crab and shrimp feed, so they have perfect baskets that fit inside, making pasta draining a breeze ... that is if you can lift a pot of boiling water weighing a hundred pounds over to the mixing table!!!   This is my buddy Mark, waiting for the pot to boil!!
I jumped right in and became the pasta timer, taste tester and basically the cook.  Ten pound bags (ten of them) were cooked one at a time and mixed with huge pots of sauce that had been previously prepared at the lodge.  Colleen and Len did the sauce mixing ... which I have to say, came out perfectly in the end.  How did they do that????
Once cooked and mixed, they were kept warm on the flat-top barbecue until called for in the serving department ... the building in the first picture ... where it was served up to thousands of hungry walkers coming off the track, along with salad, bread and butter and I think dessert ... but I never had time to go check it out!!  Cleanup was calling and those huge pots needed to be washed and loaded up for their return to the Elks lodge.  They tried to talk me into breakfast this morning at 5:00 am, but I'm really not a good early riser ... and I still have packing and chores to do!!

I have to say I have been feeling guilty about my soapbox stand on screaming children. ALL kids aren't "bad"!!  In fact, there were TONS of kids here at the track who were playing and having a GREAT time ... and I didn't hear screaming at all.  They weren't chasing the birds around, whacking each other on the head or throwing things.  Maybe it has to do with WHERE you are raised ... or maybe WHO raised you ... but I have to say I was delightfully surprised.  Not only that, but many kids who walked by thanked us for cooking dinner.  So my faith in humanity has been restored!!!  Most kids are great ... it was just the four who were camped out next to my condo!!!

Two days and counting .....

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