We ministered with our aprons

Davin and I were invited to attend the annual Watch and Pray weekend at Central Filipino Church and we’re so glad we came. Many times, our appointments have been to be on the platform and speak to people, or in my case, be by the piano and accompany the song service. This time, we ministered through aprons!

I like the versatility of how we are able to fit in the church activities on many different levels. This time, the need was for someone to cook a vegan lunch and dinner on Sunday for a crowd of at least 70-100. So here’s where our team-of-two “catering” ministry came to the rescue.

The major challenge was to cook what was available in the church pantry.

That meant using 50 lbs of different variety of breads donated by Panera Bread. There was a suggestion to just have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But that combined with other different savory breads with different herbs and flavors does not fly.  A bread pudding was also suggested. But I let that suggestion fly out the door because I have never tasted bread pudding in my life and it doesn’t really sound appetizing to me. And then the thought of serving it to folks, majority of which are Filipinos. Na-uh.

It also meant that we had to wait for a week until more donations come in from the food bank and local farmers market until we can really make a decision for a menu. By Friday evening, we got the word that boxes of carrots, celery and cabbage are available for us.

Another challenge was time.

A lot of the time was spent waiting. Waiting what kind of ingredients will come in, waiting until a financial donation is given. We had a whole week available to go shopping and plan. I was getting anxious but Davin had to gently remind me that we cannot really do anything.

By Friday evening, at least we know what the kitchen had. Saturday evening, we still cannot go grocery shopping because we had to wait for a donation.

So we just had to wait, and wait patiently. Knowing full well that grocery stores close at 10 pm and re-opens at 7 am. And that we had to serve lunch the next day at 1 pm the latest.

Finally, an hour before 10 pm, we received the first donation of $100. Whether anything else will come in, we don’t know, but my math was saying “You better make Benjamin stretch as far as you can.”

Davin and I felt like a couple competing for Amazing Race

There was a grocery store nearby CFC, but the prices weren’t very friendly. So we spent around 15 minutes locating the nearest Vallarta Supermarket. I’m not earning anything from endorsing them, but the prices they have for produce is really cheap.

As soon as we hit the parking lot, I had to make a run for the produce aisle. There were 5-10 customers left and a whole lot of re-stocking going on. 15 minutes later they signaled me to leave.

But at least I had the main thing I needed: 10 lbs of chickpeas. Once I have chickpeas, I know it’s all good.

D (“Cooking”) Day

As what we have expected, the 5-7 other people who signed up to volunteer and help us prep at 8 am didn’t come on time. Some didn’t come at all. It was quite understandable because people were tired. The meeting the night before ended late, then we also “lost” an hour of sleep due to the time change.

Davin went to get all the other stuff we needed at Walmart, so I was all alone in CFC Church.

After a while a few people came in, including this super friendly guy who was very chatty. I had to apologize to him for this, but in my desperation I had to stop him mid-sentence to say, “Hey, I’d really love to sit and chat, but right now my mind is thinking of chopping veggies. So if you like to keep chatting, do you mind if we do it over some diced carrots and celery?”

Thankfully, he was in a really good mood, and didn’t mind helping at all. Later on, I realized I just asked an engineer to cut veggies for me. But I thought that really didn’t matter. At least I hope so.

The Menu

So you might be wondering now what came out of 50 lbs of bread, and baskets of celery, carrots and cabbage.

Well, while I was alone in the church that morning, I opened every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen and discovered several cans of white beans and 20 lbs of pasta shells. So I called Davin to make some last minute changes to the menu and we came up with:

For lunch, we served Macaroni and Vegetable Soup with Chickpea Sunflower Sandwiches . And then I managed to squeeze in a Carrot cake for dessert.

For supper, we served Garden Salad with Cannelinni Dressing, Jamaican Rice and Peas with Soy Meat Masala and Carob cake for dessert. I also made another carrot cake.

Hey, the options may be very limited, but it doesn’t mean we have to eat poorly. We even got some change left from the hundred bucks.

A lot of people asked for the recipe, but to be honest it’s hard because we were eye-balling everything and just tasting as we go. But I linked some of the food items above to the websites where I got my inspiration from.

Cleaning up was left to hubby

I was pretty beat by the end of the day, and literally didn’t have any strength left by the time the last person was served. Davin had some left in him so he suggested cleaning up by himself while I rested and waited in the car.

Three things I learned from this experience:

  1. I have great respect to all those people who cook for other people for a living.
  2. A great and satisfying vegan meal does not mean it’s expensive.
  3. I would do it again, in a heartbeat.

Thank you CFC for the opportunity. The blessing was on us!