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Food and Drink at the permies house for the Permaculture Voices conference - Kitchen Commander?  RSS feed

 
Julia Winter
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The permies house for the Permaculture Voices conference is rented out from March 12 to 19, and it is fully booked for the 5 days of the conference. I think. (There are a couple people I haven't yet received actual checks from, but I haven't been tremendously diligent about pestering folks, so I'm not yet ready to re-open any slots.) The lease that I've signed (I sent in $2300 in mid December, with more due soon) is very explicit that there can't be more than 20 people staying in the house--it's about the septic system, mostly, not the number of beds or couches or floor space or whatever. And no, we can't set up a humanure system at the $3 million house built on top of a rock!

If I do have a space open up I am seriously considering trying to find someone who won't actually be attending the conference but who is capable of cooking for 20 people and would like to soak up the permaculture knowledge sort of vicariously when all of the attendees are back at the house. I'm becoming concerned about how we are going to feed everybody. I am the sort of person who attends as many talks as possible at a convention and thus I can't see myself being able to prepare the food for all of these people. I could manage my own food, but not for multiple people.

I'd really like to have a barbecue and invite other participants (including other keynote speakers) to come and socialize with Paul and the rest of us, but preparing such an event is going to be pretty difficult whilst also attending presentations. I think what I'm hoping for is a "kitchen commander" similar to the position at wheaton laboratories. Beyond just the (highly) skilled labor is the issue of sourcing "better than organic" food that also meets the various preferences and requirements of group members.

All ideas welcome. . .
 
Julia Winter
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Correction: the house is rented out from the 9th of March all the way until the 19th of March! I looked up my VRBO receipt, but that was not accurate. Is the owner scamming VRBO a little bit? Maybe, but he added on the extra days for less than the posted rate, so I'm happy about that.

Thus, a kitchen commander could have a 10 day working vacation in lovely southern California, with just a few people to feed for 5 of those 10 days.
 
Adam Klaus
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Julia Winter wrote:
If I do have a space open up I am seriously considering trying to find someone who won't actually be attending the conference but who is capable of cooking for 20 people and would like to soak up the permaculture knowledge sort of vicariously when all of the attendees are back at the house. I'm becoming concerned about how we are going to feed everybody. I am the sort of person who attends as many talks as possible at a convention and thus I can't see myself being able to prepare the food for all of these people. I could manage my own food, but not for multiple people.

All ideas welcome. . .


I think this is very sound thinking, and agree 100%. Cooking for 20 isnt just a casual thing to do in the afternoon after attending a few presentations. Purchasing the food for everyone is a big job in and of itself. Planning the menu, too. All three kinda link up together in a major way.

Is anyone staying at the house a professional cook or similar? That could take on a big chunk of the planning and execution? It seems like we really need someone to take a leadership role in all this, coordinating the menu, the purchasing, and the cooking.

What is the cooking infrastructure in the kitchen? Are we sure that the house has large restaurant-size cooking pots? What is the stove size? The actual capacity of the kitchen would be a real consideration for serious food prep for 20.

On one hand, everyone taking care of breakfast for themselves would minimize the planning. On the other, it would likely make the kitchen a serious traffic jam in the morning. Pros and cons, pros and cons...

 
Julia Winter
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I know that Tom wrote to me answering my questions about the kitchen(s), but I can't find his email.

My impression is that the kitchen is rather large, but not restaurant equipped. Many of the reviews praise the kitchen, but I don't know if anyone has ever tried to feed 20 people multiple meals a day using it. I do recall that there is a second kitchen, I think downstairs.

I'll keep looking for his email (he included a list of what was in the kitchen) and if I can't find it I'll ask him to tell me again.

Any ideas about sourcing food? I talked to the folks at Azure Standard, but their delivery truck goes down from Oregon to San Diego the last week of each month. This means anything from them would have to be met and stored by someone on site, and the only feasible way for food to stay edible 2 weeks is in a freezer, well, except for shelf stable items. Eggs, in a refrigerator.

It's extremely frustrating to me that I will be flying to this event and thus I can't really bring any cooking equipment beyond a couple of knives nor any food items beyond maybe some membrillo.
 
Diego Footer
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Just an FYI to help with the planning. We were trying to get to organize a farm dinner on March 13th. But that fell through for a few reasons.

We will be replacing it with some content based events on Thursday night, just no food.

So if you were planning on food for that night, you will have to change your plans.

---------------

Maybe not the best option, but they have a Costco in Temecula and Costco is carrying more organic stuff in SoCal these days.
 
Tomas More
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My wife will not be attending the conference, will be staying at the house and can help assist in the kitchen. We have a 3 month old so commanding the kitchen would be too much.

Maybe lay out a basic meal plan, then work on sourcing the food. I think we should focus on Dinners first and the other parts will fall into place. For example we often cook extra large dinners then have leftovers for lunch. I vote one night being a BBQ.
 
Julia Winter
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Thanks, Tomas, I think that's a good plan. Ideally we will have someone dedicated to the task, but if that doesn't happen we will plan out dinners, do as much as possible the night before (stew, anyone?) and have it cook while we're at the conference. Breakfast can be porridge (prepared the night before) for the grain eaters and self cooked eggs for the paleo folk. Lunch, well, leftovers are a possibility.

Wait, didn't we have somebody talking about all sorts of things they could make in the other thread?

(goes back and checks. . . . )

Yes, it was Seth Peterson. I sent him a pm pointing him at this thread (like everybody else on the permies house list) so maybe he doesn't get online much on the weekends.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Thanks again, Julia for ALL of your coordinating with this.

At wheaton labs we rely heavily on crockpot cooking - for oats, soups, stews, even "roasting" squash, sweet potatoes, etc. Especially helpful when there is not a dedicated cook hovering in the kitchen, Though for 20 it would require two of those very large crock pots (at least). Which we have here, but again, with flying, we're unable to bring them with us. We also augment our one regular household stove with a rice cooker and a roaster.

I think the largest challenge with feeding the masses is chopping and washing produce. If we are able to have most everyone chop a little at each meal for the next meal, many hands would make light work of this. A meal plan would really be needed to know what to do each meal.

We shop a lot at Costco these days ourselves, which is not ideal, but does have a lot of organic food. If the house doesn't have large crockpots, I almost wonder if it would make sense to spend $30 for one or two just to make things easier.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Here's a sample meal plan for a weekend workshop. It was right after we harvested pigs, so it is pork-full. I have this in a Google doc if the format would be a good starting place for anyone. Of course, we wouldn't need the snack station and/or could do fresh fruits for desserts...

It can be hard to plan for leftovers being worked into subsequent meals (a mild version of stacking functions or using a surplus!) when you don't know how much a certain crowd will eat, but I love the kitchen economy of using whatever energy is being put out to it's fullest extent.

menu-idea.jpg
[Thumbnail for menu-idea.jpg]
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Haybox cooking!! Maybe we can rig up something in a suitcase!! Far better than buying crockpots.
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
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Once there is a meal plan and grocery list, you might want to call area stores to see if they could have some of the items, particularly in case quantities ready for pickup when you want it. You might even get a deal that way too.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Ghislaine de Lessines wrote:Once there is a meal plan and grocery list, you might want to call area stores to see if they could have some of the items, particularly in case quantities ready for pickup when you want it. You might even get a deal that way too.


Not a bad idea! Most groceries offer 10% off for cases or bulk buying.
 
Julia Winter
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Thanks for the spreadsheet, Jocelyn--that will be useful. I agree that crock pot/large pot cooking is the way to go. Sometimes you can use the oven to similar effect. I recall Tom saying there was at least one crock pot present. I really need to talk to him on the phone again--ask me about that in a few days.

There is a Costco in Temecula, so that's definitely a possibility. I've found that particular items (specifically organic, for me) vary from store to store. In Wisconsin our Costco had this amazing organic lemon juice from the Amalfi coast of Italy--so good, you could make incredible lemonade. I asked about that at the Portland Costco and they'd never heard of it--they just have that horrible "ReaLemon" stuff in the green plastic bottle. Also, the Madison WI one has organic peanut butter, and the Portland one does not. I don't think there's any way to figure out what they have until we get there, unless someone in the area can tell us.
 
John Polk
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Haybox cooking!! Maybe we can rig up something in a suitcase!! Far better than buying crockpots.


If somebody is driving to the event, one of those large Igloo type ice chests makes a decent haybox.
Just need some hay, or other extra insulator.

 
Adam Klaus
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John Polk wrote:
If somebody is driving to the event, one of those large Igloo type ice chests makes a decent haybox.
Just need some hay, or other extra insulator.


I will be driving, and could easily bring along a cooler like that. We're talking the rectangular plastic iceboxes, right? I know they used to make nice metal ones but its been years since I have seen one of those.

Let me know if that would be helpful, I am glad to bring one to the house.
 
Julia Winter
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What would be fabulous is a cooler like that, full of delicious food from your farm!! Eggs? Meat?

Anything that would survive the trip, really. . .
 
Adam Klaus
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Julia Winter wrote:What would be fabulous is a cooler like that, full of delicious food from your farm!! Eggs? Meat?

Anything that would survive the trip, really. . .


Now you're talking my language. That is just the way I roll. Leaving the farm is rough, but leaving the farm food is particularly painful.

Here's what I could offer to bring-
2 whole frozen chickens (5 lb each)
1 quart raw butter (2 lb)
1 pint ghee (1 lb)
5 dozen eggs
50 pounds potatoes
25 pounds apples
11 quarts tomato sauce
1 quart dried corn for posole

Hope that helps. I am actually heading to Cali in less than a week, doing some vacationing before the conference during the off-season. Let's coordinate what you'd like me to bring asap, and I can bring it out with me, and store it at my folks' house until the conference.

Let me know how that sounds,
Adam

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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That sounds awesome, Adam!

Julia, Paul remembered that the VRBO page for the house listed a personal chef available. Would that be something to look into it?
 
Ce Rice
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Adam,
That list sounds incredible!
 
Julia Winter
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I talked to Tom, the (old) guy that owns the giant house, last night. He started out with his worries about us trying to park more than 6 cars at the house. It's a narrow private road and "if you have more than 6 cars the neighbors will call the police." I assured him that we had plans for car pooling and he told me about some spots where excess cars could be stashed that aren't too far away.

I asked about the personal chef thing and he demurred, saying that he didn't know anybody that could prepare food "to our standards." I think I may have freaked him out a little talking about "organic or better." One good thing is that he said he could pay somebody (like one of his cleaning staff) to meet an Azure Standard truck (well, I could pay $40 for this) and they could load the food into the downstairs kitchen. Well, as long as there aren't paying guests at the house at the time. Because Azure Standard sends a truck way down to San Diego in the fourth week of each month, whatever we get from them would have to be rather stable, but I do think that we could save money doing a bulk order.

It's time to figure out who eats rice, who eats beans and who eats meat (personally, I eat all of these things). Beans, for example, do very well with slow cooking and night-before preparation. I like my beans with pork products, but a vegetarian would not. I've been making a wheat-free multigrain porridge for my younger daughter for breakfast that I ordered from Azure Standard and it is very nice, if you like porridge (she eats it with butter, a little milk and demerara sugar). Most mornings here in Portland I make myself a couple of eggs, often in a quick omelette cooked in bacon fat and flavored with cheese or pesto (from Costco). That pesto is very good, but not organic. There's so much to figure out. . .
 
Adam Klaus
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Maybe one of the first things to figure with the menu, is what are the dietary restrictions people have? I am not talking 'preferences'. I mean bona fide dietary restrictions. In the interest of being good, harmonious, team players, I would respectfully request that folks really try to be as accomodating as possible so that we dont need a half-dozen individual chefs per meal. I mean, I prefer strawberry yogurt and granola without sunflower seeds, but I can get along with whatever, if you know what I mean.

SO- If you have a medicial restriction to your diet, please speak up now, and specify your medical restriction. Otherwise, we will assume that all options are open, and can move forward with buliding a menu.

(and sheepishly I must ask, gulp, do we have any, ahem, vegetarians in the group?)

Thanks everyone for working together to coordinate an awesome week in the house! Especially Julia!
 
Julia Winter
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Yes, exactly--thanks, Adam!

I eat almost anything. I eat too much (!) of many things, and I think I'm less likely to gain weight if I avoid carbs, but for a week of semi-vacation, I can do whatever.
 
Ce Rice
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I have no dietary restrictions.

I could even eat a vegetarian or vegan meal, AS long as I could prepare or have my own egg or chunk of bacon on the side.

I love trying new foods. I've eaten real Mexican food, cooked by a real Mexican mother. I've eaten real Chinese food cooked in a fishing village in China. I am open to eating just about anything.

My only restriction is, to not spend $15-$20 every meal! ;-D

I will help lots on washing, preparing veggies, any stuff like that which can be of service!
 
Julia Winter
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OK, now we just need to hear from about 15 more people. . .
 
Tomas More
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My wife and I love good food of any type and have no dietary restrictions.
 
Julia Winter
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That's good! So far we know that Jocelyn and Paul avoid grains, no other restrictions voiced. Paul frequently speaks of "organic or better," which I like but do not always achieve in my own life (for example, pesto from Costco. Back in Wisconsin I had pesto I'd made myself at Vermont Valley Farm, but not here. I don't even have a freezer yet!)

Hello, if you're staying in the permies house, we need to know what you can/can't eat!

Thanks.
 
Adam Klaus
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Hi Juila-
Do we have a master email list of everyone who has paid and will be staying in the house?
Seems like we arent getting the communication we need to make the food thing progress as quickly as possible.
Maybe direct emails would be better.
Just a thought-
Adam
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Julia Winter wrote:That's good! So far we know that Jocelyn and Paul avoid grains, no other restrictions voiced. Paul frequently speaks of "organic or better," which I like but do not always achieve in my own life (for example, pesto from Costco. Back in Wisconsin I had pesto I'd made myself at Vermont Valley Farm, but not here. I don't even have a freezer yet!)

Hello, if you're staying in the permies house, we need to know what you can/can't eat!

Thanks.


Thanks Julia - though there's more.

Paul avoids dairy* when he needs to use his brain. It seriously reduces his mental acuity.
Gluten gives me sinus infections/headaches plus a whole host of other maladies. I really cannot tolerate it at all though am pretty adept at avoiding it.

Yes, we like to avoid grains in general (for mental acuity and inflammation reasons), though apart from gluten for me, as Julia said, we too could handle some for the week.

*Might be a pasteurized dairy thing, but we haven't experimented with raw enough to know for sure when Paul needs to be at his best for presenting.
 
Julia Winter
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Adam, I think you're right. We are iced in here in Portland (is this the third snow day?), I'm semi-sick in bed, so I will try to send out an email to everyone this morning.

Jocelyn, thanks for the clarification. Does avoiding dairy include butter, or is it more the milk/cheese/yogurt thing?
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Julia Winter wrote:Adam, I think you're right. We are iced in here in Portland (is this the third snow day?), I'm semi-sick in bed, so I will try to send out an email to everyone this morning.


Someone set up a Zello channel. I'd always wanted to try Zello, so that might be kinda fun..

Jocelyn, thanks for the clarification. Does avoiding dairy include butter, or is it more the milk/cheese/yogurt thing?


Butter seems okay - we eat copious amounts - no other dairy though unless Paul knows he doesn't have to think. Thanks for checking!
 
Julia Winter
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Zello could work today. I'm having a hard time getting an email out (really futsy process trying to find an email address for everyone), but I think moving from pm's to emails might be a good move. At least once I've come up with a list of email addresses it will be easier to send one message to multiple people. I can't see how to do that with pm's other than by a lot of copying and pasting.

So, I download the app and then . . .
 
Kevin Hiebert
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I love bacon! But any of the other food groups are OK too. No dietary restrictions here.
Sounds like I'm another kitchen grunt for someone to put to use.
 
Ryan Barrett
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No restrictions. I like just about everything.
I lean toward the paleo thing.
 
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

We shop a lot at Costco these days ourselves, which is not ideal, but does have a lot of organic food. If the house doesn't have large crockpots, I almost wonder if it would make sense to spend $30 for one or two just to make things easier.


Agreed...I think the crockpot idea is a GREAT idea!

While Costco isn't *ideal* the reality is that we are at a 4 day conference.

I'll take ease of planning and food availability at Costco over trying to source everything that is heady, free-range, organic and fantastically crunchy...lol

Don't get me wrong, I love all that stuff, but I also acknowledge that we are at a 4-day conference.

Ease of cooking and cost trumps all in my humble opinion.
 
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Ryan Barrett wrote:No restrictions. I like just about everything.
I lean toward the paleo thing.


I'm very much like Ryan. I don't have any restrictions - but also lean paleo.

I generally lean away from dairy, but eat copious amounts of butter and I *love* ice cream.

I try to stay away from grains when possible...but shit - I'm in the midwest and it's winter.

Plus my parents make bread on the farm. And it's damn good. LOL

So there's my dietary take on all of this.

 
Rob Kaiser
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Kevin Hiebert wrote:I love bacon! But any of the other food groups are OK too. No dietary restrictions here.
Sounds like I'm another kitchen grunt for someone to put to use.


Bacon. Lots of bacon.

Crockpots, Costco and Bacon.

Can I get an AMEN?
 
Kevin Hiebert
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Preach it Brother!!
Amen!
 
Julia Winter
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Thanks for chiming in! Sounds like we will be looking for good meat and lots of vegetables. I am in total agreement about bread: I know it's probably not all that good for me, but, yum.

How does everybody feel about beans?
 
Rob Kaiser
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Julia Winter wrote:Thanks for chiming in! Sounds like we will be looking for good meat and lots of vegetables. I am in total agreement about bread: I know it's probably not all that good for me, but, yum.

How does everybody feel about beans?


They are the musical fruit?

And...they are delicious.

How about a crockpot full of pintos, a smoked ham hock and some mixed veggies?

Lawd have mercy. Topped with bacon?
 
Adam Klaus
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Julia Winter wrote:
How does everybody feel about beans?


As my Ecuadorian friend once said, 'Todo el Mundo Come Frijoles' (the whole world eats beans)

Gotta be cooked thoroughly, no crunchy gassy beans, please.

 
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