Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cooking project at St. Clouds

St. Clouds’ owners organize many volunteers to cook for homeless people once a month. (See St. Clouds website) I went to join February’s homeless cooking project. I was surprised to see so many volunteers cutting, chopping, and grilling vegetables and fruit, mixing seasoning for baked meats, making dessert and washing dishes. I met my neighbors and some people who came from Bellevue and Burien. A lady told me that she has been doing this for two years. I met high school and middle students who are in Spring break.
John Platt who is one of the owners of St. Clouds determines what to cook based on the food donations and instructs volunteers what to do. The results was full course menu which include salad made of spinach with cherry tomato and pear, roasted asparagus, Baked Mexican spiced pork and chicken, apple custard tart, and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. I was very impressed! All food was completed and packed and labeled to be carried away around 1:00PM to the 4 homeless shelters. I had exciting experience working together with many volunteers to cook nice meals. These meals will not only fill the stomachs of hungry people but also make them warm.

Last year I worked for JohnP to help cooking for two public schools found raising auction dinner. Please read my two blogs :
My experience working at a commercial kitchen
Garfield high school Auction dinner

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

VietnameseChicken Rice Soup

I decided to cook Vietnamese Chicken Rice soup for Teacher’s appreciation lunch at my son’s middle school. The soup is called congee in English. I saw how Congee was made at Club bamboo at ACRS and loved the taste and thought it is perfect to add to Teacher’s lunch menu. I searched the congee recipe which uses the same ingredients, ginger, lemongrass and chicken. I found it in
Please see the site:
The recipe looks good. However, I had to think how to bring the soup to keep it warm for teachers during 3 lunch periods. I neither wanted to carry boiling hot soup in the car nor half-way heated soup. I got an idea. Here is how I prepared and served the soup safe, hot and delicious.
The day before the lunch I cooked the chicken soup stock as the recipe, and cool it down quickly in shallow pan surrounded with ice. I remove the bone and separate the chicken meat to cool quickly, and stored cooled soup and the meat in the refrigerator. At the day, I cooked a small amount of rice with the some of the chicken soup and cool the rice. I chopped cilantro, lime, and chives. I carried all of cooked ingredients and condiments into the cooler with ice. Slow cooker will require too much time to heat up the content so I brought a large pot and Chinese portable gas burner.
My method worked well. The burner heated up soup quickly and I added cooked rice and chicken.
The teachers were happy to have this warm unusual Asian soup in addition to tasty bagels, salad, lasagna, and sweets. I loved the compliment from some of the teachers about the soup. The recipe was great and produced the superior soup. I like to thank to the owner of the original congee recipe.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chinese New Years and other Celebrations

Last week, there were several celebrations. The first was the Chinese New Year’s day on January 26th. My favorite Tofu Company took this day off although Seattle international district seems to be quiet. Employees at ACRS celebrated New Year’s party for lunch. The club bamboo staff members helped cooking some Chinese dishes in addition to our duties cooking for seniors.
People celebrate the special occasion by sharing food with families and friends. Japanese celebrate New Years Day eating special food. For example, we have Black beans which pronounce KURO-MAME and MAME means healthy and eggs which is yellow (gold) and white (silver) and they are lucky color. Unfortunately I didn’t have an opportunity to ask someone at ARCS about special Chinese or Vietnamese New Year’s Day food.
On Wednesday, Rosita who is my fellow kitchen staff had a party to share her happiness to obtain her green card. Although I was not volunteering the day, I attended her celebration by accepting her invitation. Rosita was very happy surrounded by her favorite colleagues and her nephew.
On Thursday an employee of ARCS brought special Vietnamese dishes for kitchen staffs. The food was steamed dish made of rice flour, jacama, and etc and cooled and decorated with colorful toppings. It was served with sweet fish sauce and salad. They were very delicious. Please see photos of this pretty dish.
I think I gained my weight this week by having many delicious treats.