Yes, I only ever seem to blog about Habitat and Crisis, but they are inevitably the highlight of my year! Crisis in particular now has become a compulsory yearly event, made worse by the fact that all the troops for the afternoon shift at our residential centre has become so cliquey, it is simply an excuse for us to spend lots of time together and catch up.
This year was no different, with the same old kitchen team of Norm, Synthia, Dave and myself, but this year we also had the wonderful culinary skills of Evelyn joining us. What was radically different, and thank god for it too, was that there was no airplane food in sight! We had proper proper food to cook with, and this made it a lot easier (although I guess I secretly missed the challenge of taking apart 50 airplane meals to make it into something palatable).
Case in point was when I arrived on the first day to a whole load of beautiful haddock fillets. We are now the smallest centre only feeding up to 40-50 mouths including the volunteers, but we had been delivered about 50 fillets of fish, and no freezer had yet arrived for us to store it! So we had to cook it all, which meant me making the biggest batch of bechamel sauce in my life for a lovely fish pie for the first day. My right arm is about an inch thicker than the other one now. It was so yum, probably the best thing I've ever cooked at Crisis.
Although one still felt sorry for the vegetarians, as unfortunately we still had to rely on good old Linda McCartney for sustenance. I must say, when I started Crisis the Lindas were actually pretty nice, but now we have the ever occurring sawdust-like vegetarian sausages which do not look the most appetising...
The most challenging day as always is Christmas Day itself, the only day we can't make it up as we go along. We were a small kitchen, with only one small oven, so that was a challenge doing two big turkeys. But Norm led us well, and we managed to do not only very moist turkey, but also pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, sage and onion stuffing, roast parsnips, broccoli, carrots, peas, but no sprouts alas!
The Christmas was made even more special as we were also sent a whole bunch of smoked gammon, so we could make proper Christmas ham!!! To be truthful, none of us had actually cooked this before, I vaguely remembered watching someone's mum do it once before, so it was a bit ad lib. But it was still so good! I love love a Christmas ham, I can probably just do one in the middle of summer and eat it all myself.
And don't worry, I haven't forgotten the most important thing about Crisis Christmas, and that is the Crisis Christmas Custard. Oh yes it needs a capital C for the Custard. It is what we get the volunteers to come back each year, and Evelyn made it even more wonderful by bringing in some proper vanilla pods, so that we had proper proper Custard! God it was so yum. We also made a Christmas trifle (very inventive actually with some dried up scones), but I forgot to take a photo, probably because it was devoured rather quickly.
The only slight hiccup was when suddenly morning shift didn't have any chefs in on the second to last day, and Dave and I were roped in to help. We have never done a morning shift before, which informs doing breakfast to order, as well as doing lunch at the same time. We were a little stressed, why do people all want eggs that we suddenly cannot fry very competently?! We will be happy to go back to the cosy familiarity of afternoon shift again :)
And finally to my favourite picture of Crisis this year. Bless the likes of Tesco, Sainsburys, the Co-op who donate all of our food each year, but goodness is it tough to work with catering sizes of some items! This was our cheese block at the end of the week; even after hacking at it every day, we still literally had a square foot of cheese left. Lucky Dave and I mastered the art of making macaroni cheese for the masses this year, we will try to reduce the cheese mountain for 2012!