Our Monday Drop-In is always a riot of activity with people chopping food, making coffee, setting tables, finding the stray olive oil, making more coffee, sanitizing the sink, getting trays into the oven, handing out tokens, cleaning up spills, dealing with crisis inside the kitchen and out, doing A LOT of dishes, etc., etc. This past Monday we decided to make things even more of a riot by planning a special, festive meal that required the use of an additional kitchen off-site. At this time of year there is a lot of turkey on the go in the neighbourhood. As a result, we have traditionally held off our turkey dinner until the dark days of February. Still wanting to feast, we were so pleased when Second Harvest gave us a number of beautiful hams. The problem? Our ovens are rather small. Fortunately our friends at the West End Food Co-op agreed to make their big convection oven available to us.
So, first thing on Monday morning the hams were loaded into my car (The Dale’s current storage space!) and driven just down the street. Things at the Drop-In seemed to progress smoothly: squash, apple and peppers got roasted, salad prepared and potatoes boiled and mashed. The hams? Well, they mysteriously just didn’t seem to be cooking. I kept checking in with the keepers of the hams, Joanna and Ian only to become increasingly worried that our lunch would not be starting at 1 pm as it should.
12:45 pm came and the hams were not to temperature, despite being in the oven for longer than required. Panic started to rise. We decided that at 1 pm I would announce that things were running behind and invite people to sing some carols. After singing every verse of Joy to the World, Silent Night and O Come all Ye Faithful the hams were still not in the building. We made our usual announcements, Souad introduced our kitchen team one by one (greeted with much applause) and finally we decided to serve the salad as an appetizer (a first for us).
Finally the hams arrived, though there was concern we might need to cook them further. More panic. Here’s the amazing thing: we began carving the meat in order to fit it all back in the oven to discover it was in fact done. We cleared the salad plates and replaced them with platters of steamy food and it was…delicious! Sandy, a friend and volunteer passed around the 500 (!) beautiful homemade cookies she brought. There was a lovely air of celebration and gratitude.
Someone joked we had experienced a Christmas ham miracle. Something tells me they weren’t far from the mark.