Monday, September 10, 2012
Austin Girls Rock Camp Catering
So, back in July, I catered a lunch for the volunteers at Girls Rock Camp Austin. Yep, that was 2 months ago. I've been on hiatus, illness related then playing catch-up in the rest of my life. I was stressing out a bit about not keeping this current and I finally decided screw that, this blog is the last thing I want to stress about. I am doing it out of a sense of fun or I'm not doing it. So, thus the break. I was waiting until things calmed down a bit and I felt more focused, and really, I think that's just how it's going to be: spurts of frequent posting intermingled with lapses.
So, back to Girls Rock Camp... it's a non-profit that I sort of fell in love with a couple of years ago. I was aware of it via some friends who had volunteered and who had taken part in Ladies Rock Camp, a grown-up, compressed version of the camp that raises scholarship funds for girls wanting to participate in the camp, many of whom don't have the means. About a year and a half ago I finally decided to bite the bullet and go through the ladies camp myself, and that's when I fell in love.
The basic concept is appealing enough—empowering girls through performance and music education, while focusing on a sense of community, social change, and expanded opportunities for girls and women—but the people involved in the camp are just so... cool. And not cool in a detached, hipster kinda way. Just good, interesting, and inspiring people, the kind of people who make your life richer for knowing them. I had been intimidated by the challenge of starting from zero musical skill or experience (unless you count the 2 years of piano lessons I had a kid, but I don't) and forming a band, learning an instrument or vocals, writing a song, learning the song, and then performing it all in a matter of 2 1/2 days. But it was completely doable. The volunteers, all local, female musicians, were excellent teachers and guides through the whole process. Then getting up in front of a big crowd and actually performing was empowering enough for me as an adult—even as someone who's had to do my fair share of public speaking (but there is something about singing in front of people that just feels so much more vulnerable)—that I can only imagine what that must feel like to a young girl. Honestly, by the end of it, I felt like if I could do all these things in one weekend, I could do pretty much whatever the Hell I wanted.
And so when a call for volunteers came out for this summer's camp, I wanted to support the camp but knew I wouldn't be able to take off work that many days or work around my crazy single-mom schedule during the evenings, but I could cook. So that's what I did.
The volunteers had a range of dietary constraints, including pretty much all the normal ones... gluten and/or lactose intolerance and veganism/vegetarianism. I opted for a main dish that could be customized per person. I chose to make a version of my Antipasto Salad because the base could be vegan and gluten-free, then I included extras for people to add-on, like cubed salami and Provolone, as they wished. In addition to that I made one of my specialties, spanakopita, the hugest batch of baba ghannouj I have ever laid eyes on, and few jars of homemade pickled beets.
The ingredients for the Antipasto Salad this time around were: provolone, roma tomatoes, basil, roasted red peppers, wax peppers, salami, olives, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, green beans. I used Alton Brown's recipe for the baba ghannouj (delicious, I have had made it couple more times for myself since then). It was my first time to cater a meal for such a large group—I have done parties with finger foods and dips and what not, but not a meal—and it actually worked out really well. I judged the quantity and timed the prep right. I got a lot of good feedback from the volunteers who said they appreciated having a salad and something lighter for a change, as well as compliments on the flavor. All in all, it was a great experience. I may not be able to do this for every future camp session, but I will definitely be doing it again as I can manage.
See this post for the Spanakopita recipe.