We thought posting this over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend would be perfect. Quite a while back, Stephen, Brian, Redd, Saleem, Patrick and myself spent a Sunday afternoon/evening assisting our favorite local charity. If you’re fans of the site, “Friends For Life” may sound familiar. During our “Pride Weekend Kickoff Penthouse Party“, we managed to raise $500 from the event. This time we wanted to donate our time and do something more personal.
Originally, Kevin had approached Patrick and myself with regards to volunteering our time to prepare a Sunday dinner. We didn’t even hesitate for a second and immediately jumped on board. We originally booked a date in August to serve dinner. Unfortunately, due to a kitchen renovation, our scheduled day was pushed back to November. With Kevin spearheading that project and the postponement, I completely forgot about it until the three week email reminder I received from one of the Friends for Life coordinators.
Kevin then moved to Toronto, leaving Patrick and I to begin to freak out a little because neither of us really cook all that much, let alone for almost 30 people. I was advised by Kevin that 5-7 people would be ideal to help out with the event as it can get quite cramp and hot in the kitchen. Once we sent out the email asking for volunteers, we received the interest we needed to pull off this task- and some of them even had cooking experience. Now the biggest hurdle was what to make? When it comes to most things, I like to think I can provide some useful input BUT NOT when it comes to cooking. I’m not a very picky or discerning eater, so you can just imagine if left to my own devices what would result from my cooking.
Two days prior to our dinner, a few of us were over at Dan’s apartment for a “Prairie Ho Down” party- don’t ask. Anyway, Stephen and I got to talking and enlisted one of our Saturday Submissioners, Matt, who’s an excellent cook for some assistance on the menu. After some “serious” brainstorming, we had an idea what we’d be making.
The next day, Stephen, Brian and myself agreed to meet up and finalize the menu and purchase all the ingredients we needed. After hitting Costco and a local Asian grocery store, we had most of our ingredients for our menu- Butter Nut Squash Soup, Chicken Millionaire and Warm Gingerbread Pudding with Ice Cream. There’s nothing funnier than three gays who don’t read one stitch of Mandarin walking around looking for ingredients in a non-traditional supermarket.
Before heading out to meet everyone, Brian and I double-checked and tripled-checked we had packed all the ingredients- yes I know I’m super anal. We all agreed to meet at the “Friends For Life” at 1:45-2:00pm on Sunday. Surprisingly, we all showed up on time and raring to go. You know the cliche saying “too many cooks in the kitchen”, we’ll that was the complete opposite of what we had. Stephen was a real trooper and took over as project manager (inspired by The Apprentice) for the day. He was fantastic at making sure we all knew what we were doing and prepared a timeline. Without his guidance and calmness, the day might’ve turned into a nightmare. As project manager, he assigned Brian, Saleem and Redd as his sous chef while Patrick and I were the assistants. And boy did we assist.
In the end, the dinner went off without a hitch and we even received a standing ovation from the patrons for our efforts. Even though, the 6 hours prepping and cooking the food was tiring, we had an awesome time. We had so much fun, we’re trying to pick another date to volunteer. Thanks to all the cast members who showed up and especially our own Gordon Ramsey (Stephen) for not making it “Hell’s Kitchen”. The only thing I wish that didn’t happen was we didn’t get to vote anyone out- I”m looking at you Patrick *wink*.
They say a picture says a thousand words, watch this video and you’ll get tens of thousands of them. For those who are interested in the recipes, we’ve placed them at the end of this article. Simply scroll down and copy and paste. Let us know if you try any, we’d love to hear how they turned out.
What is Friends for Life?
The Vancouver Friends For Life Society serves as a catalyst to enhance the wellness of individuals living with a life threatening illness by providing complementary and alternative health and support services.
The Vancouver Friends For Life Society, by inviting members to participate in complementary and alternative health programs and services, assists members in assuming responsibility for their own health and well-being. Wellness is more than the absence of illness. Wellness is a physical, mental, social and spiritual state whereby people feel more personal control over their health. People living with life threatening illness do better physically and psychologically when they gain the tools and resources to make their own best health decisions.
For some people, living with a life-threatening illness can lead to anxiety, fear, depression, and/or social isolation. Friends For Life believes it is of the utmost importance that people learn to take an active role in their wellness journey. At Friends For Life, we recognize that with compassion, support and knowledge, the experience of illness can be a catalyst for positive personal transformation.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, head over to their official website.
The calm before… well the calm. We never felt rushed nor stressed. Just good times.
Patrick and I are going to start our own snap pea de-stemming business. After doing this task for an hour, we’re experts.
My hands turned yellow from all the squash prep work. Oops. I was born that way. haha
Uncorking the soy sauce and laughing at Saleem.
Patrick pretending to be useful while Brian makes the dessert.
Stephen project managing. He truly was a God send.
Seriously, we spent most of the time laughing our heads off.
Saleem marinating the chicken.
So close to finishing, we can almost taste it.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Courtesy of The Silver Palate Cookbook
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
4-5 tsp curry powder
2 medium-sized butternut squash (3 lbs)
2 apples peeled
3 cups Chicken stock
1 cup apple juice
salt and pepper
1 shredded unpeeled Granny Smith apple , for garnish
Sour cream or creme fraiche, for garnish (optional)
1) Melt the butter in a large and heavy pot over low heat. Add the onions and curry powder and cook, covered, until the onions are tender, about 25 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, peel the squash (a regular vegetable peeler works best). Cut in half horizontally, scrape out the seeds, and chop the flesh.
3) When the onions are tender, pour in the stock, add the squash and chopped apples, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the the squash and apples are very tender, about 25 minutes.
4) Pour the soup through a strainer, reserving the liquid, and transfer the solids to a food processor, or use a food mill fitted with a medium disc. Add 1 cup of the cooking stock and process until smooth.
5) Return the pureed soup to the pot and add the apple juice and about two more cups of stock, until the soup is of the desired consistency.
6) Season with salt and pepper, simmer briefly to heat through and serve immediately, garnished with the shredded apple and creme fraiche/sour cream if desired.
Courtesy of The Harrowsmith Cookbook, Volume Three
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned, and sliced
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 green onions, chopped
4 slices gingerroot, minced
1 tsp crushed Sichuan pepper (found at your local Chinese grocery store)
1/2 tsp crushed hot red pepper flakes
Combine soy sauce, honey, garlic and pour over chicken. Let marinate for 1-2 hours.
Heat oil in wok and rapidly sauté green onions, ginger and peppers for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat slightly and add chicken and marinade. Cook, stirring until chicken is done- 5 minutes. The sauce may be thickened with cornstarch if desired.
Tofu can also be substituted for the chicken in this dish with an equally tasty result.
Warm Gingerbread Pudding
Click here for the recipe.