Kitchen Organizing Tips

Exchange camp ideas, find places to perform, announce your events, etc.

Which meal would you most likely go for.

Breakfast with eggs, pancakes, hashbrowns, fruit and coffee?
5
42%
A juicy cheeseburger with a slice of bermuda onion and an ice cold beer.
2
17%
Beef briskit with latkes and matzo ball soup.
1
8%
A garden salad with tons-o-veggies, feta, sunflower seads, and croutons.
1
8%
Chicken stir-fry with oyster sauce, pea pods and shitakes over brown rice.
2
17%
All dessert, all the time.
1
8%
 
Total votes : 12

Kitchen Organizing Tips

Postby YerNotDaBossOMe » Sat Aug 21, 2004 9:36 pm

We will have a nice kitchen area this year with seating for about 14-20 and a big gas griddle and sinks and all kinds of hand stuff. If you have organized a group kitchen in past years please offer any tips.

Did you try to get peole to sign up or just wing it?
Did you make too much or wish you had made more?
Which was more popular, breakfast, lunch or dinner, and when did you serve them?
What were the most popular meals and what was a flop?
How did you pay for it? Did you take donations in advance?
How hard/simple was it to get volunteers for prep, cooking and cleanup?

Anything else you think we should know, bring it on.

Thanks - Chris
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Postby diane o'thirst » Sat Aug 21, 2004 11:52 pm

Love that avatar, btw...tigon or liger?

To the questions:
We had people sign up well in advance, as late as a month to the Burn, and everyone sent in their money to one central Kitchen God. The kitchen worked well for the several years we did it, to the point where we got quite elaborate and it became the literal and geographical heart of our camp.
We had no trouble getting people to sign up for shifts, they were practically falling over each other for any position. We had everyone in the kitchen meal plan take three shifts; you could be a chef, a helper, or cleanup. One couple actually took on most of the cleanup chores, for some reason...I was trying to push for everyone who ate a meal take one pot or dish as well as their own place settings and have everyone on cleanup, but it didn't pan out.

That having been said!...
Our group is blessed with an abundance of foodies. You probably can't make a project like this happen unless everyone is as passionate about their food as they are about their art.
Another caveat: in this day and age, it's <b>VERY</b> "in" to claim a dietary exclusion of whatever sort (or even multiples concurrently), and I all but guarantee you'll have at least one person in your camp whining, "[Common ingredient here]? Oh, I can't eat that!"
Not a dig at those who actually do have diagnosed food allergies, but the truth is, food allergies are not as prevalent as everyone would have you believe. The way people carry on, you'd think those who don't have a sensitivity to some kind of ingredient are the freaks. Most of the time it's just someone's way of making a political statement in the kitchen, exercising a passive-aggressive tendency, or they have an intolerance to something — gluten, dairy, whatever. Tell them to take Lactaid or Bean-O and deal with the farts for a few days.
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Postby diane o'thirst » Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:10 am

On to food choices (got attacked by the character limit)...

Last year we got hijacked by the veggies so there wasn't much in the way of variance...but I'll go into what we've had and what you might want to get if you continue to have your group kitchen...

We did a lot of stir frying and sauteeing. Mostly it was just chopped-up ingredients thrown in a sauce and simmered for an hour or so.

If you get a chimenea stove, the kind you can bake in, you can do pizza and that opens everything right up. You could do a different pizza every night and take care of dinner that way.

I swear by chai, soup and couscous as Playa mainstays. You have no more giving and kinder friend than soup: so simple, so flexible, simmer it on low all day in a big stock pot. Couscous can be cooked up with anything — I like peas, diced chicken or lamburger and pine nuts in mine — and served on one plate. You can even make it a one-plate dinner by whipping up some unleavened flatbread on the griddle and have your people dip into the platter of couscous with pieces of flatbread or crackerbread, Ethiopean-style.

If you want to spend the $60, you can get a turkey fryer. Deep-fried turkey is always a crowd-pleaser unless you have some hard-ankle veggies and veegies, and for a medium-sized camp — say, 12-15 — you've got it more or less covered with two or three pots. Do your turkey in the frier, do some rice, do a vegetable dish. You can also make a big ol' honkin pot of pasta in a turkey frier.

I like to do baby carrots sauteed in honey and ghee with little slices of fresh ginger.

I saw a recipe for beer salmon; wrap a fillet in a couple sheets of aluminum foil to make a bowl, pour in a good beer — I'm bringing Mirror Pond and Fat Tire ale — cut a red onion up and toss it in there, wrap it up and stick it on the grill for 6-7 minutes TOTAL — not per side.
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Postby nostratomas » Sun Aug 22, 2004 2:06 am

working so far, huh? Can't we do all breakfast all the time. Kinda like a good old fashioned soft rock station.
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Postby JezebelinHell » Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:21 am

Another caveat: in this day and age, it's VERY "in" to claim a dietary exclusion of whatever sort (or even multiples concurrently), and I all but guarantee you'll have at least one person in your camp whining, "[Common ingredient here]? Oh, I can't eat that!"


That irritates the fuck out of me too. See, I actually have a VERY serious food allergy to avacadoes, but people are so used to hearing the bs food sensitivities, that they figure a little bit won't hurt me and don't always keep it entirely out of my food. I once had my bottom lip swell up to twice it's size from a single piece of sushi that someone had removed and scraped all the visible avacado bits from. I got hospitalized because some cook at a restaurant ignored my 'no guac' request on a buritto (even though I realized it one bite in). So, to all you people who have hypochondriac style food 'sensitivities I'd just like to say: Fuck Off!
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Postby nostratomas » Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:28 am

Hey Chris, how about that? She got some fire brewing. All angry & shit. Just the attitude we like behind the bar. Jezebel might work out, as long as she doesn't forget 'who her daddy is'.
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Postby JezebelinHell » Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:32 am

You've been on the eplaya how long? And you just now noticed I've got some "fire brewing"?

Hmmm...I'm not crazy about that metaphor though. Sounds like I'm developing a nasty case of ghonnorhea.
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Postby diane o'thirst » Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:50 am

I take food allergies with deadly seriousness. I've seen the results of an anaphylactic attack and I'm usually at pains to avoid inflicting that on anyone. It's the poseurs who read a book where the author claimed that "Wheat Is Evil™ so don't eat it" that really frost my cake, for the exact reasons that Jezebel stated. It's crying wolf. The last time we ascribed this much fussiness and morality to a natural process we got things like teenage pregnancy and AIDS. As a baker, the "No-Wheat/Quinoa Instead" litany is a particular beef of mine. Flaxseed meal is good, cornmeal and potato flour flat-out rock, but quinoa tastes like crap. Food is to be celebrated, not grown inured to.

Food intolerance — as opposed to food allergy — is easily dealt with. There are things you can take that make up for it and otherwise...well, what's an intolerance mean? It means you'll fart a lot. Big deal. The average adult farts about ten times a day. Carry a lighter.
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Postby YerNotDaBossOMe » Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:31 am

Thanks for all the replies, and please keep them coming. Our head chef said that fatty foods like burgers and brats were very popular. I suspect we have a higher percentage of carnivores in our camp. We did plan to do a stir-fry one night, and those can just about be made to order. But if you are are correct about the soup I may have to make my world famous vegetarian pea soup. I use an onion stock instead of boiling a ham bone and nobody can really tell the difference. The stuff is great heated up too. We were going to do rice instead of couscous, but the later cooks up so much faster that it is probably easier to work with.



And I'm glad you like the avatar, Diane. It's a baby tiger. Ain't he cute?
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Postby AntiM » Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:21 pm

Yeah, I have food allergies and most of the time am able to eat around other folks' menus. It isn't always feasible, tomatoes and potatoes are pretty damn common. Makes Mexican and Italian meals downright dismal. I have had to bring my own food to cookouts before too, quietly and enough to share, but it was depressing. My Larry is allergic to the nightshades too, so at least we can get by at home.

I've had to make some major changes this year for health reasons and I find it distressing to give up comfort foods. The most surprising adjustment is that I can no longer have soy, well, some, but only in the smallest amounts. Has to do with estrogen positive receptors in BC. No tofu for health reasons really takes the occasional vegan off guard, but opens up some great conversations.

Good thing I adore chicken and rice. And chocolate. And oatmeal.

Sigh. I miss BBQ the most.

Couscous rocks!!!!! Now if I only had the patience and time to make baklava, I make killer baklava.
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Postby meee_bot » Tue Aug 24, 2004 12:56 pm

Hi, I've been organizing my camp's meals for the last 4 years of going to the playa, I'd love to give you my 2cents.

Last year we assigned people to make dinner each night, with no one making it more than once. However, they didn't plan their own meal... I did all that, which really didn't work out so well. They weren't sure of ingredients and hadn't planned to cook it, so it seemed more like a chore than something they wanted to do. This year I'm planning the shared pantry which is everything for breakfast and lunch (15 people), and every 2 people has signed up to bring, cook, and clean up dinner one night. They've got something invested in their idea, they're more likely to want to see it work. We posted a list with everyone's preferences/allergies, so each dinner team is responsible for making sure those people get fed too, with a different meal or an adjustment to the main meal.

So far, I'm very happy. I don't have to buy salad.

I think you have to have a pretty solid clean up plan though, otherwise people use as much water to clean as they would at home and you run into issues of food clumps in the greywater barrel. Gross.

As for things that get eaten/don't get eaten... premade food that's easy to grab obviously goes really quick. I couldn't believe how fast the pop-tarts went! Also, nobody really seems to eat the bread, cooler or not. Meat and salty snacks are very popular. Dried fruit, not so much.

My favorite idea in the kitchen this year is that we're having everyone in camp bring a tupperware with their name labeled on it. That way if they're not home for dinner, we can just package it up for them and they can eat it when they get home from their ranger shift or whatever. No more missing dinner, no more complaints.
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Postby Dork » Tue Aug 24, 2004 1:10 pm

Definitely don't spend too much time dealing with people with food peculiarities other than tracking what ingredients are where. I brought a bunch of seperate ingredients for things last year expecting to make meals and only add in bits that people would eat, etc but it just wound up being a huge pain especially when trying to minimize the number of dirty pans. It wasn't worth it.

Stick to a larger variety of smaller dishes instead of trying to make the big dish work for everyone. Only bring vegan foods that non-vegans would find appealing. Prepare things at home whenever possible so they can simply be heated. People with seriously restricted diets (severe nut allergies, vegans, etc) should be bringing much of their own stuff anyway because they know what they need better than we do.
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