Sunday, January 25, 2015

Food much?

I get a lot of questions about food now that I've been living as a volunteer with a volunteer's budget... "Do you have enough to eat? What kinds of things can you all make and eat? Do you eat together? What about allergies? Is anyone vegetarian?"
To summarize my answers, we choose to cook one meal per week, so each of the five of us in the house cooks one night a week. Recently, we made up a chart that helps us remember what day we're responsible for and to have a better idea of how many people we'll need to prepare for. As you'll get a better understanding of through the pictures, we are just entering the time when we are most in and out traveling due to the nature of our work. 

Starting this week, Hannah made stuffed peppers for us on Sunday. As Jessie was still here, we had six people in the house. As we all work in the same place, we've figured out it's nice to have leftovers taken care of through have extra from the night before. In essence, we cook double the amount we need - if we have six people, we make enough for twelve meals. 
Hannah made thirteen peppers in total. :) What did she use to stuff them, you may ask? Quinoa, cheese, corn, beans, and a smattering of spices. They were delish!

We have varying diets, but have much to be thankful for. We all are flexible enough in cooking, ranging from learners to "the seasoned," and everyone tries the food! And we are getting pretty good at learning what people like to eat. I like experimenting with meals, and nearly every week am trying a new recipe. Per a suggestion from Kelley, our archival intern at the office, she offered this stew recipe and trying it on Monday, it turned out pretty great. I think Harold was a lovely pumpkin. :) In the end because his bottom wasn't totally flat, he turned out looking more like Grumpy cat. Thanks to Jessie for modeling!

 I believe Theresa's quote was, "Kristen, I've got to tell you, I'm anxious about trying this! 
She loved it.
Laura and Jessie and I also thought it was pretty tasty!

Laura's supper on Tuesday, as you can see, was polished off in a hurry. Ben and Hannah were out to Iowa visiting for a summer workcamp and talking about BVS, so it was just Laura, Jessie, Theresa, and I for the pumpkin and Laura's delight: chicken tacos!

Ben remembered having Common Meal at the church two Wednesdays a month, but involvement changed and it hadn't been happening during the summer and fall months.
He found Cat had an interest in cooking, and gathered Laura, Hannah, and I to help organize the volunteers to help set-up, prep in the kitchen, and clean-up. We've been having around 30 people come to meals.
It's a great way to meet folks from the church and get to know people in a new setting. It's also fun to eat Cat's food - she is an excellent cook!
So, this week I was in line to organize help, and I also was the photographer. I got some action shots of people who helped and those who attend church. It was a "soup"er meal, with a GF potato and leek soup and Italian Wedding soup.


Good food and fellowship was had by all!

Thursday, Hannah made a great lasagna. As we've all been in the house together, we've also been finding our niches and what is easy to make. Hannah's lasagna recipe from home is a BVS house favorite. Something about that Ricotta... 

Ben was switching it up for the house and wanted to host a relaxing Friday snack and movie night. After going to Emily's for a Christmas celebration, this popular and tasty spread is now dubbed, "The Emily Dinner."

I enjoyed a weekend out with friends in Indianapolis. The food adventure continued! For the first time since November (note previous November post) Saturday's lunch was splitting a gluten-free, delightful cheese pizza with Kelley! It made my day. :) Our visit to the Indy Children's Museum was awesome.

Kelley, Brandon, and I made nachos for our Saturday evening supper. 
(At the house, per regional differences, we go back and forth between "dinner" and "supper".)

As conscientious as we are with how we budget and spend our money, we will on occasion go out and splurge. Inevitably, we all chose chocolate - hot drinks, chocolate cake, and a chocolate cheesecake. Fun fact: the tree behind Laura, Hannah, and Theresa was made out of chocolate. 

For those of you keeping track, you may be wondering if Theresa was going to cook this week... Due to the flexible nature of our house, Saturday was originally Theresa's designated day to cook. However, there were enough leftovers that consensus was to put off cooking until Sunday supper. She made a bean, corn, and salsa soup, perfectly warm for the snowy night we have here tonight.

Our weeks will look a bit crazy from here on out and food scrambling will become the norm. However, all six of us enjoy eating, and we will definitely be having some chocolate from time to time.

For now, peace from the BVS house and stay warm! 

With love,~Kristen

Monday, January 19, 2015

The New Year

I've never been one to get really excited about the New Year or make crazy New Year's Resolutions. I don't see the new year as a new start as much as just a continuation of what already was. This new year however, marks the start of many new things for the house and myself. I find myself both excited and anxious about what lies ahead.
The start of 2015 brings the beginning of a new phase of the workcamp season: on-site visits! Both Theresa and I will spend the majority of the next few months traveling around the country visiting the locations of our summer workcamps. I'm very excited to finally be hitting the road and meeting with the organizations and people who help make the magic happen this summer! It's also a bonus that some of my traveling will take me to warm locations. This afternoon I leave for Camp Pine Lake in Iowa, along with Ben, who is traveling with me to do some recruiting for BVS in the area. At the very end of the month I will be in New Orleans, meeting with an organization called Captsone, and the first week of February Threresa and I will fly to Los Angeles together to plan for our workcamp there. As excited as I am to travel and see new places, I will miss the consistency and routine of Elgin life that I have gotten used to the past few months. It's been nice having everyone in the house and being able to spend a lot of time together.
The beginning of this year also brings a new member of our house! Jessie Houff, the new orientation assistant, moved in on Saturday. We are so excited to have her living with us! Because this is the season of travel in the Elgin BVS house, she leaves on Thursday for her first orientation in Florida. We wish her luck!
Not much else is new in the house. We have been busy playing games and staying warm inside. The weather this weekend has been great in Chicagoland, however, and some of us have been able to get outside to soak up some sun. I'm sure we will see more snow in the next few weeks, but for now, the weather has been a good reminder that spring, and more new beginnings, will come before long.

With love,

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A silly poem

Here's a silly poem about our first weekend back in the house after all being away for the holidays:

Friday nights at the kitchen table
An unconventional family dinner
Bread broken, stories shared
A few hours of games with many-a-winner
No laughter was spared

Saturday mornings in the living room
A reader and a writer
Breakfast without words from you or me
Soft music on the player
Giggles, sighs, and sips of coffee and tea

Sunday, out and about and around the house
Time for worshipping our creator 
A Special Olympics basketball tournament
Practicing Spanish like a dominator
Undecorated the tree, then on to the new week we went

In peace and with love,