Thursday, January 29, 2009

Humbling service

I took dinner to a neighbor in need last night. I really enjoy doing that. The transportation part always stresses me out some, (especially after the incident where I spilled cream of potato soup in my car and it it never smelled the same again) but I love planning a comforting meal for someone who, for what ever reason, needs it.
This time there were 13 people who needed to be fed and I had more to do than cook all day, so I decided I'd go ahead and warm up the frozen beef and barley soup from my freezer. I eased my guilt for taking a commercially prepared entree by making cheese pepper bread (my mother in law's recipe, the Mr's favorite) and super delish chocolate peanut butter chip cookies to accompany it.
Here's the thing about the soup. We got it from the company where we buy frozen meat in bulk. We had 2 frozen tubs of it from our last shipment. I made one for dinner at one point and thought it was awful. Allow me to explain.
My mother always makes everything from scratch. She uses cake mixes about 70% of the time, but no other type of mix passes through her kitchen. Being thus spoiled though out my early life, I have little to no tollerance to the flavor of preservatives in my food.
I can't eat a Krusteaz pancake without cringing. After years of conditioning I can now eat Bisquick pancakes cringe-free, but the progress was hard won.
So, I had this high quality prepared-frozen soup in my freezer that I personally didn't care for, but others would enjoy. (I assumed they would anyway, I never saw anyone else at the big pancake breakfasts I attended in my youth make a sour face and walk their krusteaz to the trash can after their first bite) It took days and days to get through the left-overs after I prepared the first tub so I assumed it would be plenty to feed six adults and seven small children.
I made the bread and cookies early in the day, all was well. The soup was mostly thawed and I started it heating. My pot was rather emptier than I'd expected, so I poured in some beef broth I had in the fridge to stretch it out. I checked on it and found that the edges were getting nice and warm but the middle was still rather slushy so I gave it a stir and sat down to read a few chapters.
And it burned.
At this point it was time to deliver the darned stuff and I hadn't the time nor ingredients to make anything new. I poured it to a new pot hoping that just the bottom was scalded and the rest would be fine. I happened to notice in the pot switch that there really wasn't all that much soup, the quantity wasn't helped when the bottom layer of barley scalded onto the previous pot. Anyway, I tasted and thought it was ok, so we packed up and headed out. All the while I prayed "Please Father, let the soup taste ok. Or, at very least, let these be people who enjoy the flavor of burned food"
So, I carried the dinner into the house and noted that the children were more medium sized than small. I believe medium sized children are apt to eat a good deal more than small ones.
I asked them to trade me pots, (This is my custom when I take dinners, it's such trouble getting dishes back to people I always end up thinking it would have been better for me to have cooked it myself) and as the woman poured the soup into her medium sized sauce pan (enough for 13? I think not) the burned aroma wafted through the kitchen. Thus it was made clearly evident that I had delivered just enough burned soup to feed half of the people in the house. I ducked my head in shame and made my exit.
The bread and cookies were good though, and plentiful, so I guess that counts for something. Also, I'm glad I don't have to go back there and collect any kitchen ware. Re-entering the scene of such a humiliating experience would surely be too much to bear.


Melissa M. said...

That must have been a good book.
My philosophy is that whenever there is delicious bread and cookies, nothing else matters.

Amy said...

Is it awful that this made me laugh aloud?! I've had similar scenarios, my friend.

Jodi said...

At least you didn't cancel last minute! I agree with Melissa - bread and cookies always make things better!!