One of my nephew's Boy Scout troops has an annual "Turkey Shoot and camp-out"... in November. Remember what happened in November? Hurricane Sandy. Turns out that some of his leaders went down there to help out, but the kids had this big weekend all planned so some extra help was needed.
Enter, my sister and myself - as cooks.
OK - so we didn't do it all by ourselves. When we arrived, the guys had already made the "oven" (it is made out of old metal tent poles and plumbing pipes, chicken wire rolled in the corners to stack the charcoal, covered in tin foil and metal taped together (leaving the corners free for feeding the charcoal). Here is a photo before the lid was taped down. How else are you going to cook 3 huge turkeys, outside at a campground... in a few hours? OK, so I had my doubts, but this thing really worked and it was the best turkey I have ever had! Seriously. But maybe that was because by then I had been cooking outside for several hours, in 40 degree weather and was starving!
Our outside kitchen. To cook for over 50 people.
The "mega" stove. This thing was a life-saver because it could hold 2 very large pots at a time and was much hotter than the other camp stove. My sister and I were constantly switching pots back and forth depending how hot we wanted things to get.This photo - I just love this photo, it is my sister... looking so much like our Mom with a big smile on her face and holding a bit pot of food! We lost our Mom before my son was born - to cancer. But she loved kids so I could just see her here - pitching in to make sure the boys had a good weekend! Did I mention that it was cold and got colder as the evening went on? We kept a big pot full of hot water just for the hot chocolate requests!
We made 8 boxes of Stove Top, peeled and chopped I think 20 pounds of potato for mashed potato, peeled and chopped I think 5 pounds of potato for scalloped potato loaded with whipping cream (yum!), I think we used 10 cans of gravy and should have used more!, we had butternut squash, several big bags of green beans that needed to be chopped and then we peeled and chopped lots of apples for jumbo apple pies - although one cute younger scout helped out with the apples. We used store bought pie crust.
Once we fixed the scalloped potatoes and apple pies - we handed them off to the guys to look after. See - they are in those big dutch ovens with coals underneath and on top. Those things in the front are to get the coals hot. And one of the guys is checking the turkeys! They have yellow tape around our "oven" area to keep out the rough-housing boys! Lots of boys!
The guys did a great job looking after our masterpieces! See... (that's the apple pie - in progress).About this time - they all figured out I liked to take lots of photos! I told them that I posted photos on my blog and was being careful to take extra photos that would not show them or the boys for my blog because, well, because I am considerate that way. Anyway, they told me I could take their photo and post it, so here is a photo of them lifting 2 of those yummy turkeys out of the "oven". Pure perfection, I tell you! And look - it is still daylight. These things cooked just as quickly as if they were in a normal oven in a house!
My sister and I timed everything to finish at the same time. And it worked, despite the different cooking temperatures on the stoves, phew! We had lots of fun, joking and laughing all the while. I think we almost talked the guys into hosting their own Pampered Chef party. I have to say though - their camp kitchen was VERY well stocked, and organized. I felt right at home! Except I missed some of my "goofy" gadgets - like that Pampered Chef tube that you roll garlic in to get the peel off. Yes, they were laughing at me!
To serve all the hordes of hungry boys, the dishwashing stationed was emptied out, turned over and balanced on top of a long table. This provided a stable holder for all the pots and pots of food. The guys all lined up and got ready to serve.
As a special honor, my sister and I got to go first. I was really touched. I wasn't expecting that! Everything was hot (an accomplishment considering the outside temperature) and delicious! And for dessert, that special young scout that helped with the apple pies got to go first. My sister and I left before the dishes had to be done, but everyone ate on paper plates with plastic utensils anyway. We did NOT sleep in the tents (brrrr), but we helped cooked the food - and let me tell you, it was tons of work, but fun too.
Not too long ago, my sister e-mailed me the photo of the turkey shoot patches. The Boy Scout troop ordered my sister and me our very own patches as a special thank-you for all our help. It is nice to be appreciated! And we had fun. And the boys had fun. And I think that the guys were relieved when we showed up to take over "our" part of the kitchen. And everyone was well fed. And happy. And did I mention - my sister and I got to eat first? Yum.