I have realized that about half of my life now revolves around food. I have never cooked entirely for myself and now I have to. I also have to cook for the kids a few days a week, which is just an added challenge because kids seem to hate everything. Then there are additional events where volunteers have to help cook.

Cooking is not only about cooking either. To get food, I have to go to the grocery store. It does not sound like a big deal, but there is a reason why my first time going was this past Saturday even though I’ve been here for two weeks.

The grocery store is a half mile away. It does not seem far, but we only have off on weekends, which means that volunteers will never have time to walk there during the week. The second issue is bringing groceries back. Currently I am living with one other volunteer, Helena. Helena had not been to the store in four weeks.

Since neither of us had anything, we loaded up an entire shopping cart worth of groceries. So, we had to carry and entire shopping cart worth of groceries back. That included gallons of milk and juice, ice cream, apples, and other heavy items. My arms are still sore two days later.

However, I am learning a lot about cooking. So far, I have made pizza, a nice salad, mac n’ cheese, quiche, and other little things all on my own. I am also learning new recipes here.

I woke up extra early to help with an Indian Taco Sale. An Indian Taco is just like a normal taco except the shell is replaced with Fry Bread. Fry bread is delicious deep fried dough. It is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. I ended up being in charge of the Fry Bread after the woman who showed me how to make it had to leave. So, I had 15 pounds of dough that I kneaded into disks and then fried. Some pieces were not perfect, but overall I think it was a pretty successful first attempt.

I’m glad that I can bring a new skill home and hopefully I can make some once I get home to share with everyone.

I am very proud of my cooking. However, the kids are not as happy with it as I am. I had to make dinner for them twice. The first time, I had to use a ton of extra cabbage we had stocked up in the refrigerator, so I made haluski. It is a dish with buttered noodles and cooked cabbage. I thought the cabbage would be disguised enough for the kids not to notice. They did, though. Some picked out the noodles, but most did not eat it at all. It was a little disappointing because the volunteers and I all liked it, but kids are a tough crowd.

So the next time I had to make dinner, I used some leftover homemade mac n’ cheese I had made for myself the night before. I thought they would love it, but since it wasn’t Kraft, they didn’t even know what it was. If you don’t already know, I am obsessed with mac n’ cheese, so the fact that my entire tray went to waste made me a bit sad. Now at least I know better. If you want kids to enjoy your food, make something salty or sugary that has no nutritional value.

The last big thing that happened to me because of food was I had to go to the emergency room last Sunday because of food poisoning. I was extremely dehydrated from throwing up so much. That was why I couldn’t make it to the grocery store my first weekend and had to live off powdered soup for a second week.

The Monday after, we cleaned out the volunteer refrigerator. It was disgusting. There were moldy things everywhere. The problem is that volunteers leave so no one has ownership of the things people leave behind. So they sit there. It was absolutely horrific.

That weekend changed me. I am now a complete clean freak. My friends sent me a package with wipes and now I wipe everything. I feel like Adrian Monk. I am so careful, and if I am not busy I feel like I have to clean. Let me just tell you, the bathroom is spotless.

Overall, food has taught me many valuable lessons. For such a simple thing, there is a lot of work that goes into it. You have to go to the grocery store, think of something that your consumers will enjoy, actually cook, and then clean up (very very well).

I am obviously proud of this pizza and salad because here is another picture. Going to the grocery store is just such a luxury!
I am obviously proud of this pizza and salad because here is another picture. Going to the grocery store is just such a luxury!

Helena and I after we made our first meal after returning from the grocery store. Pizza and salad.
Helena and I after we made our first meal after returning from the grocery store. Pizza and salad.
A completed Indian Taco.
A completed Indian Taco.
A pile of completed fry bread.
A pile of completed fry bread.
Lizzy, another volunteer, assembling the tacos.
Lizzy, another volunteer, assembling the tacos.
Taking the fry bread out of the pot
Taking the fry bread out of the pot
Putting the fry bread in oil
Putting the fry bread in oil
Kneading the fry bread into disks
Kneading the fry bread into disks

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