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Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Great Noodle Caper of '12

I like to think that my life is pretty well organized on a daily basis, it's fun living in this fantasy world, please don't wake me... so a few months ago when Mr. N at church asked if the Women would help with the celebration for Pastor K's 25 years in ministry event, I checked with the board and they all agreed it would be fun to help out... little did I know then.  

Oh and sorry there are no pictures today...

We decided on a menu based on what K likes the most and we did manage to avoid a full carb load (noodles, brown beans, potato salad, and bread) to go along with the BBQ that the Men would be cooking. We would add in cole slaw instead of the potato salad and we quickly came to our senses that we would buy the slaw.  I had the great idea of buying the slaw from a BBQ place in town.

We also switched out the brown beans for green beans, but as every good Lutheran knows you can't have a meal with more than 100 people without serving noodles.  THE noodles.

That was fine.  Mrs. Pastor K, T, picked up the noodles from the sweet ladies down in Serbin where they make them by hand.  Serbin is where all the good Texas Lutherans come from.  They are nice, and well how can I saw this politely, German women who are over 60 and well they have some pretty strong opinions about how things are supposed to be done.  So T received a great deal of instruction on HOW these noodles were to be prepared and they even questioned if she would be ABLE to prepare them.  She said they were concerned when she left.  The instructions were handy because there is a consistency thing we needed to be prepared for.  I've eaten these noodles at lots of events and one thing is true, they are as consistent as the women who make them.

Sometime early last week I learned that I was a bit more in charge of things that I had originally suspected.  That was fine, because I was ready to step in and do the work, and I had the added benefit of not completely stressing about feeding 650-700 people.  Yeah.  I didn't make a typo there.  BUT Oh my gosh, what had I gotten into.  That was clue number 1 that I was not so together.

Thursday I went in and met with the school kitchen chef and learned how to operate all the big stuff in the kitchen.  

On Friday T reported that the chicken base had been driven in from Thorndale.  Thank goodness, cuz I didn't even know we needed that.  Clue #2, there's special chicken base???

T typed out the instructions and sent them to all of us since she would be a bit tied up in church that day, but she was able to come into the kitchen a couple of times and check on us.  

Tensions were high because it takes a long time to bring 14 quarts of water to a boil.  That was what we would need for pot #1 of 5, but we got the water hot early and kept it just below a boil.  

I should also mention that none of the women working the kitchen this morning had ever made these noodles, but many people came by the kitchen asking if we'd be having noodles.  One person was helpful enough to mention that whatever we did, we'd better not make soup.  Thanks, like I needed the extra pressure.  

So we set about to make the first 'test pot' of noodles about 10:30, the first meals were to be served at 11.  
  1. Bring 14 quarts of water to a boil, check.  
  2. Add chicken base and return to a boil, check.  
  3. Add 5 bags of noodles and boil 10 minutes, check.  
  4. Add 1 stick of butter, check.  
  5. Let stand 10 minutes, check.  
  6. Sprinkle with parsley, stir and serve.  
Uhhhh, the only thing I saw in the pot was soup.  The very thing I'd been warned NOT to make.  Swell.  

That's when the hero of the story steps in.  L had just arrived with 30 gallons of coleslaw.  Yes, 30 gallons.  We could have gotten by with 20-25 gallons in case you were curious.  

He immediately went into male problem solving mode and I couldn't have been more thankful.  He figured out that the proportions we had going were all off and that we needed 12 bags of noodles for 14 quarts of water.  We were WAY short of bags in pot #1.  I'm not exactly sure how he got that first pot 'right', cuz I just got out of the way and tended to other things.  

Never mind that people are pacing outside the kitchen wanting to know when we are going to start serving.  L kept his cool and figured it out in a flash and in the end they tasted just like everyone expected them to.  Whew, disaster averted!

S was a great help too with the green beans.  If you need help feeding a really big crowd, call L, he's your man.  If you want to come over for dinner, I can take care of you just fine, but put L in a commerical kitchen and he will shine.  

Oh and we had very few leftovers.  :)

I think the ladies from Serbin should send out trainers, supervisors, or some sort of hands-on help from now on for the rookies like me.  

1 comment:

Katy Hardin said...

I have many memories of making "the noodles" with my grandmother and mother. We would have 5 pasta machines going at one time, and noodles would be strung over every surface available in our house to dry. The last time we made them, it took forever because we sent the men to get the eggs, and they came home with A CASE OF EGGS (all of which had to be used.) It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun. We should get some of the Lutheran ladies together and have a noodle party one of these days. You can make a ton with lots of help, and then divide them up amongst yourselves afterwards. We keep them in plastic gallon jugs in the freezer and get them out and use them when the occasion calls for "the noodles". LOL