Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grilled cheese extravaganza

Campers will surprise you, at least at Deer Crossing Camp. Just when you think that they will only eat chicken nuggets, grilled cheese sandwiches and cold cereal, they surprise you and devour so-called adult food.

When I served Mulligatawny soup two week ago, the campers at Deer Crossing ate a bowl each. And they thanked me after the meal for the wonderful alternative to canned cream of chicken soup.

Saturday night I accompanied the grilled pork chops with caramelized onions. I sliced three large yellow onions and slowly sweated them in a cast iron skillet until they turned golden.

I set the skillet on the kitchen counter, not in bowls for the tables. I figured staff would be the only ones to eat the delectable onion dish, which I consider equal to bacon and butter.

I knew that I was in trouble when the first four tables (of seven that night) decimated the caramelized onions. The teary eyed head of the last table (a second-year instructor) almost sent tears to my eyes when he missed out on the onions.

With this background, I knew that I had to prepare enough "special" sandwiches when I created a grilled cheese extravaganza yesterday. Once again, the campers ate every sandwich that was placed on the table.

I grilled 60 sandwiches for the 37 campers that ate in camp yesterday (a couple dozen campers and staff were out on a whitewater rafting trip). They included:
  • Traditional grilled cheese with two slices of cheese -- 30 sandwiches; we use Sysco sliced cheddar cheese; it comes in 8 (1-1/2-pound) packages per case or 32 slices per package
  • Mozzarella, pesto and sliced tomato -- 10 sandwiches; the number was limited by a small quantity of tomatoes on hand; campers and staff would've eaten more
  • Tuna melt with two slices of cheese -- 14 sandwiches; used tuna salad leftover from Saturday’s lunch
  • Cheese and salami – 6 sandwiches; only made a small quantity for the staff table
One sandwich came back to the kitchen after lunch, and it was a traditional grilled cheese. That’s a good indication that the campers at Deer crossing Camp will explore beyond conventional camper food.

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