Sunday, October 18, 2009

Getting started

Since sending out the initial invitation, I have been thrilled and touched by the outpouring of enthusiasm for this project. Thank you all for your generosity and passion! Please continue to spread the word to anyone you think might be interested...

Here are our first two cooking dates—along with a list of those who have already volunteered:
Date: Sunday, November 8th (to be served at BFWC the next evening)
Time: Cooks, please plan to arrive by 2:00.
Host: Jenny Michael
Menu: chicken curry, rice pilaf, cucumber salad with yogurt dressing, rolls, persimmon cake (Sandy's recipe)...
Things to bring: an apron; your favorite knife; a cutting mat or board; a container, so you can take home leftovers; money to help pay for the food, if you want to contribute in this way
Cooks: Maria Massolo, Lisa Sherman, Sandy Cate, Cole Chabon, Michael Acker, Fabio Araujo, Kevin Koczela (will bring homemade yogurt), Sara Miller (will bake and bring rolls), Bob Fagan (driver), Jenny Michael
Dinner guests: Please let me know if you want to join us—I'm hoping we'll eat around 6:30.
Date: Sunday, December 6th (to be served at BFWC the next evening)
Host: Maria Massolo
Menu ideas: vegetable chili w/turkey (Sandy's recipe), coleslaw, cornbread muffins, holiday cookies
Cooks: Maria Massolo, Monica Eppinger, Dave Menninger, Judith Bishop, Lisa Sherman, Sandy Cate, BB Borowitz, Ann Park, Jenny Michael
Dinner guests: ???
Once we see how all this works, I'll set up dates for 2010.

An invitation

Dear Friends,

I've been thinking for a while that I'd like to find a way to make a more concrete contribution to our community, and I finally decided it was time to stop musing and start doing! Because I enjoy cooking for and with other people, I did some research to figure out where I might be able to offer my services. I discovered “Building Futures with Women & Children,” an organization in the East Bay that provides shelter and other services for women and children who are homeless and/or victims of domestic abuse. This year, after Gov. Schwarzenegger cut the state's entire $16 million domestic violence budget, shelters across California are closing or cutting back on services. BFWC is looking for volunteers to prepare and deliver dinner (for about 35 people) to one of their local shelters on a regular basis.

I've decided to commit to cooking for them once a month for the coming year. Of course, I could do this all by myself, but what fun is that?!! So this is where you all come in. :) I'd like to invite you to join me in planning, preparing, and delivering a meal to the shelter—every month... or every now and then... or just once, depending on your schedule and resources and inclination. And after delivering the meal to the shelter, we'll have our own dinner together. We'll enjoy the pleasures of dreaming up a creative menu, of cooking together, of eating together and, most especially, of providing a healthy and delicious meal for women and children in need.

So that’s the plan. I don’t want to make this project too onerous a commitment for anyone, so if you’d like to help cook just one dinner, you’d be very welcome to do just that… If you wanted to do this with me every month, that would be amazing… Or if you’d like to sign up for something in-between, that would be wonderful, too! And even if you’re not so keen on joining a cooking party, you could participate in one of these other ways:
  • If you'd like to cook something separately to contribute to one of our meals (a few loaves of fresh bread? dessert for a crowd?), that would be very welcome. Just let me know, so we can factor it into our menu planning.
  • If you’d like to help out with meal planning and/or shopping, please let me know and we’ll find a time when we can do that together. I imagine we'll meet sometime the week before to get organized.
  • Do you have some great recipes that might work for this project? We'd love to try them out!
  • If you’re able to contribute to the cost of the food, that would be very welcome, as well.  (Once we get this going, I'll figure out a way to make these contributions tax-deductible...)
  • If you’d like to join us for dinner one on of these evenings, we’d love to have you!
  • If you'd like to host our gathering sometime, that would be lovely, too.
  • If you've got ideas, suggestions, and/or experience to share, we'd love to hear them! The more brains and hearts and hands helping with this project, the better!
  • If you know others who might be interested in getting involved, please spread the word.
I think my working kitchen space (including the dining room table) will reasonably accommodate 6-7 cooks (or so), besides me. But 10-12 people can sit (cozily) around my dining room table for dinner, so it would be great if we cooks invited a few others to join us for our meal each time. I’d love for this to be a joyful and festive occasion every month!

So that should get us started! Thank you in advance for your interest in this project—which, as you've probably guessed, I've decided to call "A Common Table," inspired by a quote from Thomas Merton.

I look forward to cooking with you! 

Warm regards,