[Sca-cooks] Coping with limited cooking facilities for feast

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 30 11:09:24 PDT 2011

Greetings, Theodora:

Check the site personally if possible. Make sure what is there is 
properly functioning.

I had ovens at one site that heated significantly below the setting 
on the dial; having a stand-alone oven thermometer meant i could make 
sure i got the temperature i needed anyway. At another site, one of 
the ovens didn't work at all - good thing to know ahead of time.

Sometimes things like refrigerators are not working as they should, 
or not working at all. So bring a fridge thermometer to check, too. 
At one site the fridge, which we were assured worked, was 
non-functional. Fortunately we had plenty of coolers and access to 
ice in a nearby supermarket.

And check the sink! One site i worked in as a helper had drainage 
problems we didn't know about and water backed into a corner of the 
kitchen from a drain in the floor!

Also, with all those recommendations for crock pots, roasters, 
microwaves, etc., don't assume there is more than one accessible 
outlet. Make sure there are enough electrical outlets, and that they 
can actually handle the load; know where your circuit breakers are! 
And bring powerstrips.

I cooked a feast to feed 150 for a Kingdom event, to be served at a 
camp site with no facilities, which i knew ahead of time. 
Refrigeration was standard camping coolers. I planned to reheat three 
or four dishes i had cooked ahead of time and frozen, and for some 
simple dishes that would require no cooking or the addition of warm 
water only. When we arrived, there was a fire hazard warning in 
effect and we were allowed to cook only on a black topped parking 
lot, so we had to reorient our kitchen. We set up a propane 2 burner 
stove (the tall kind :) and pots of hot water for thawing stuff. 
Fortunately I had some very nice helpers.

So planning ahead is essential when using limited kitchen facilities:
-- Make as much you can ahead of time, so you will be doing as little 
prepping & cooking from scratch as possible.
-- See if you can enlist some trusted cooks to make some of the 
dishes ahead of time, so it isn't all on your shoulders; for the 
feast above, i had one person make the desserts, and one other make 
Andalusian meat balls, all from recipes i put together.
-- Make a time line for use of the burners and the oven so you don't 
have dishes vying for access in any one course.
-- Make sure what you do make on-site doesn't take too long to cook; 
do what prepping is possible for those dishes ahead of time as well; 
if possible do some pre-cooking.

Given your limited facilities, it might also be good to plan for a 
couple cold/room temp. dishes in each course.

After pre-cooking at home, make sure to cool the food properly. For 
the above feast, i made a few "stew" type dishes (i made SCA period 
Middle Eastern food) each a day apart. Once cooked i divided it into 
freezer bags and put them in the freezer... then every 15 minutes i 
rotated the bags so all sides were exposed to circulating cold air (i 
have a side-by-side, so there was decent vertical space). If you just 
let things sit in the freezer, hoping they will freeze, there will be 
hot spots that don't cool properly, and you risk spoilage and/or food 
borne illness...

I think someone mentioned tarts/pies. I second the recommendation, 
depending on your feast's theme, of course. They can be found in many 
time periods and cultures, are relatively easy to prepare at home, 
relatively easy to cool and store, and pretty easy to transport. When 
i make a lot of tarts, i transport them stacked in paper shopping 
bags - i put each tart in its own zip loc bag, then put a sheet of 
cardboard between each tart so they stay in shape; don't stack more 
than four, or it risks crushing the one on the bottom.

Good luck! And ask more specific questions. I have always found this 
list marvelously helpful when i was a new feast cook.
Urtatim [that's err-tah-TEEM]
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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