I just finished a series of posts on breaking pebbles into sand in order to fit them into your daily jar. But, what do you do when you can’t break something up—like cooking for an elephant?
I’m glad you asked.
I went to Girl’s Camp last week and cooked for about 300 people. There was no way to break that task up into bite size pieces. All week I felt like I was feeding an elephant…and he was ravenous!
350 baked potatoes, please. 17 hams. 600 pancakes. 400 gallons of mashed potatoes. (The elephant was super hungry)
There were 6 of us cooks—and we were, in my humble opinion, quite AWESOME!
Singe‘em was our fearless leader. She gets the Superman award because of all she did—before and during camp. She never lost her temper (even though we definitely had reason to at times), and kept us from boiling over (literally).
Smash ‘em wins the PomPom award. She was determined that we would be happy cooks, so she came up with funny cheers that we chanted whenever someone gave us a Thank You. She taught us dance moves for roll call (which me and Scorch ‘em were terrible at—but Scorch ‘em at least made up for it with awesome jumps)
Lick‘em gets the Double Duty award. She not only was assigned to be a cook, but also was in charge of 20-30 girls as well during the day. She ran herself ragged going between each of her duties. Each of my fellow cooks taught me so much during this brutal week, and I admire Lick‘em for her patience and good attitude; she never complained.
Burn‘em made me laugh. She’s from Singapore and can look all serious, but then whips out a smart aleck remark like, “No speaka Englees!” when she didn’t want to do something (even though she speaks English fluently). We would roll on the floor laughing (figuratively, because in our mountain kitchen, we dealt with mice and I wouldn’t have rolled around on that floor for all the money in the world)
Char ‘em was me! If this had been a reality show, I would have been the weakest link and been voted off (which would have been the greatest award ever, now that I think about it). I scorched a pot of chili and it took us all week to clean the pan! Only once during the week did a small fire start on the stove—during my watch. I freaked out and luckily, it burnt itself out. Whew!
Scorch‘em gets the “You’re my Hero” award! She brought up a huge trailer for us to sleep in (and when we took a rare nap during the day, it even had A/C—immense luxury!) She definitely is not EVER getting voted off the island! Her trailer helped us get all the dang food up there and take the leftovers back; and it had utensils to use when we couldn’t find forks to shred pork (what kitchen doesn’t have forks? ANSWER: Lame ones like ours). Scorch’em saved our sanity!
So, if you ever have to cook for an elephant…or 300 girls, here are my suggestions:
- Have men around for the heavy lifting. Elephant food portions are quite large and scary. The whisk I stirred mashed potatoes with looked like Fred Flinstone’s club. I wanted to use Singe‘em’s excuse when someone asked me to stir them. “No speaka Engleese!”
- Pay attention to what you’re doing. It’s easy to go numb—your feet are already, and the mind goes soon after—when you’re cooking for 300 girls. Cooking that many sausages gets tedious, but don’t look away. If you do, a wasp might fly into your grill and get fried up with sausage crumbs. Look before you dish. Here in America, fried wasp doesn’t go over very well. Luckily, Scorch‘em was not only an awesome cook, but has X-ray vision and discovered our curious wasp and whipped him into the garbage.
- Make sure you have a warming oven. That way you can get things cooked ahead of time and throw them in to stay warm while you finish up other parts of the meal. So handy.
- Wear good shoes. You won’t get off your feet ALL day, and you’ll need something better than Sandals. Those are great at the beach, but unfortunately, if you are a cook for an elephant or 300 hungry girls, you will not EVER make it to the beach—even if there is one nearby.
- Think of negative, dark places…like concentration camps, gulags and death marches. If you do, you might think you’re not so bad off cooking for 300 people; but if you don’t and happen to remember normal life, you’ll think you’re stuck in the bowels of a very hot, fiery place and start to cry.
- Surround yourself with others that are more skilled than you! You won’t go wrong if everyone else knows what they’re doing. They’ll make you look good, even if you aren’t. That was my strategy.
- Cheer a lot! It’s better than crying.
10. I know I skipped 8 and 9, but I just fed 300 girls for the week, and I can do what I want now. This last advice will save your life…or at least your feet and back. When asked to feed an elephant…or 300 people…JUST SAY NO! It works for drugs, and cooking for 300 people is almost as scary and dangerous.