I'm not a chef, but I've been telling people how to cook lately. Okra? Deep fry it. Use it to thicken things. It's just a green vegetable. Hide it in soup or stew. Too many peas? They freeze well. I freeze celery too. Cut it up and freeze for later cooking. Grated cauliflower? Sauté, microwave, or add it to other things. I bet it would be good mixed in with mashed potatoes. I saw a creamy cauliflower soup on one of the cooking shows.
All of this cooking direction is the result of my latest volunteer efforts. I stand in a cold parking lot and give food to people who need it. I'm enjoying it, which seems a bit crazy since I'm freezing out there and it seems downright criminal that there are people in such a wealthy country who need food handouts, but everyone is so nice. My fellow volunteers are nice and the recipients are nice. They tell me how to cook things and I pass on their tips. We all bond in the cold.
None of us have any say about what kind of food we'll be handing out, therefore, okra. Despite its popularity in the South, very few people love it in Ohio. We all know it's slimy and gross, even the majority who have never eaten it before. Given a choice between okra and sugar snap peas, people took the peas.
The Canadian winds blowing off of Lake Erie are brutal. I found my long johns and silk socks. It helps. I used hand warmers inside my winter gloves and sealed the leather gloves inside plastic food prep gloves. I shiver and hop up and down while people laugh. I never realized destitute people are so jolly, or grateful for that matter.
Oh sure, there's some crabby old women who demand butter when we don't have it that week. Here, take some eggs. Want some okra? Actually, I think the brightest side of okra is the incredulous looks I got when I offered it. The other bright spot was when an older man lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw the okra. I gave him a lot of it since he seemed to be one of the few people who knew what to do with it.
One of my friends volunteers to serve dinners at a nearby church. She happily stays inside where it's warm, but otherwise there are quite a few similarities: happy people, good food, camaraderie -- and the fact that there are people in the US who need free food.
It seems to me there are people who volunteer for things and many others who don't. I think the ones who don't are missing out. It doesn't have to be about food. My dinner-serving friend used to volunteer as a receptionist at a children's hospital. She's an elf for Santa's train. I've volunteered at the parks and schools. I tended flowers in city planters last summer. Just pick something you like to do and find a place to do it. The things you gain may be hard to quantify, but I'll bet it makes you feel better while making other people's lives better too.
If I haven't convinced you to volunteer somewhere, it's a good time of the year to give too. Lots of charities need your support. Pick one, or many, and spread some happiness. If you want to give to Food Not Bombs, contact them at FNBeastCLE@gmail.com. We're especially hoping someone will donate a used van, truck, or SUV for delivering food.
As for last week's deadline, yes, I got my project finished in time. It didn't matter. I'm in the middle of a major redirection of the project with a new short deadline. Sigh. Actually, before the sighs I had a temper tantrum by the latest instructions. I've progressed to sighs. Thankfully the only witness to my tantrum was my dog :)