Settlers’ Day Prep

November 18-19, 2016

I have a lot on my plate this weekend! I am the lead volunteer for a festival at our local nature center. We have Settlers’ Day on the Sunday before thanksgiving every year, rain or shine, snow or sleet, freezing temperatures or sunny days. I took over as the lead volunteer when my mentor and friend, Pat, passed away. She had told the nature center director that I was to be her replacement if something happened.

Jim, the nature center director, and I have been meeting regularly since June. This month we have had meetings in person and over the phone every few days to make sure things are on track and stop any problems before they start! A few days ago, Jim and I did the marathon shopping trip for all the food needed to feed 150 staff and volunteers 3 meals on the day of the event. It usually takes us 4 hours and 6-8 shopping carts to get everything that we need. It is one exhausting day.

I always bring home the celery and onions to chop and pies to be baked. Den has always done the chopping for me and that is what he was scheduled to do to Friday while I went to the nature center to help with all the last minute things that needed to be done.

Em came with me (both days) to help in any way she could. She knows from past experience that I put in long hours before the day of the event and an even longer one the day of the event. She was a big help this year! He helped the staff get the fire pits ready, swept out both cabins and helped me get the kitchen set up. It was two days of exhausting, but rewarding, hard work for us both.

Den surprised me by having all the chopping done and even some of the pies baked when we got home Friday evening. He had even kept the bread machines (mine and my mother’s) fed. I had put together ziplock baggies with all the dry ingredients and a list of the other ingredients (with measurements), hoping that he would take the hint…and he did!

Saturday morning, Em and I loaded up the car with almost everything that I would need for the day of the event. The only thing that I don’t take out ahead of time are the pies….those go out with me in the morning tomorrow.  Den was just starting to get up and get going when we left. I told him that today should be a shorter day, since we had gotten so much done yesterday, but you never know when “Murphy” will throw a wrench in the works. So I told Den that I would call during the day to keep him updated on how we were doing.

Em and I got the “kitchen” set up first. We work out of a large workshop inside the nature center. We had tables to cover with paper, dry goods to organized and pots to sort. It sounds so easy, until you can’t find an ingredient for a specific recipe and start to panic. You have to understand our cooking tomorrow will include

  • 10 Turkeys
  • 4-6 Dutch Ovens of Stuffing
  • Maple Glazed Carrots
  • Suckotash
  • Candied Squash
  • Apple Butter
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Gravy
  • Pies, Breads and Cakes
  • Churned Butter
  • Home Made Whipped Cream

So organization is key to a successful day! Em and I found all of the needed items and got the “kitchen” in order. We then helped the staff get all the other food organized and prepped for tomorrow.

Em and I were home in plenty of time for dinner. Den had finished all the bread and pies by the time we arrived home. It was so nice to sit down and relax for a few minutes that I almost forgot what tomorrow would be like!

Before we all went to bed, I laid out all of our clothes so there would be no confusion tomorrow. I had to be at the nature center at 5AM and Den and Em would be coming around 7 or 8AM.

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