Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dub Dub's Ziploc Omlette Awesomeness

So this post is actually a long time coming. I haven't had the necessary hardware to post the pictures that accompany it so it's been a little bit of a wait. But here it is in all it's glory.

So if you're like me, you love omlettes. If you're also like me, you are continually foiled by the process of making said omlette. (If you're even more like me, you're starting to think this intro sounds like a bad infomercial). Most of mine turn into goopy pseudo scrambled eggs. It's not a pretty sight. Anyway, a while back Wild Woman told me a recipe for what she called the ziploc omlette. She claimed it made the perfectly shaped omlette. Naturally, given my previous omlette making fiascos, I was intrigued. So I decided to make one for myself and document it for all of you out there.

Step 1: Component Assembly and Bagging

Basically all you need are 2 eggs (3 eggs are also perfectly fine) and whatever ingredients you want. I enjoy cheese, bacon, tomato, more cheese, onion, even more cheese, and bell pepper in my omlette. All you do is scramble the eggs and pour them into a ziploc baggie, along with any components you want. I've found that the quart size freezer bags make the perfect size. Make sure your take the air out of the bag so you end up with the image above. HINT: While you're assembling your omlette's ingredients, bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. This will be crucial in...

Step 2: Boiling Your Bag
This is actually as simple as it sounds. Once you have your bag assembled, stick it in the pot of boiling water. Just let it sit in the boiling water for about 13 minutes. You can turn the bag over a few times if you'd like. But really that's it. After it's been cooked, you just open the bag and slide it right out onto a plate. Boosh.

Step 3: Enjoy Your Freaking Omlette
I have to admit I was a little skeptical of the whole thing but as you can see, it really does turn out the perfectly shaped omlette with a lot less mess. And once I bit into it I immediately said, "This is delicious!". You can dress it however you'd like (that's salsa on top of mine there).

Now, if you paid attention, you probably noticed it took 13 minutes to cook and you rightly asked why anyone would want to wait that long for their omlette. Fair point. Don't use it if you're in a rush. However, because of the ziploc bag, you can just make your bag the night before and stick it in the fridge. Then you can just put the bag in the water while you take a shower and you'll have a beautifully prepared omlette upon your drying off. In conclusion, Ziploc + Omlette = CRAZY DELICIOUS.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bishop Hendricken: Garrrr!

From November 14-20 we had a group of all guys from Bishop Hendriken High School in Warwick, Rhode Island. We had heard from a former Farm Manager that this group was pretty wacky but since different groups from the same school can be different we were interested to see how it went. Turns out our information was reliable and these kids were decidedly wacky. It was a super fun week that had a bunch of laughs.

The week started off with a night hike up to Armstrong cemetery to do some stargazing. It was a great night site because it was so close that it afforded us a lot of flexibility. Thinking back on it, it epitomized what the Farm is about. It's not often that we take the time to just sit back and look at stars. First off, most of us live in areas where the lights from the city make it almost impossible to see the stars. Second, we lead such busy lives that they rarely afford us the opportunity to sit back and actually look at the stars. So this simple activity was a great way to introduce the kids to the simplicity of the Farm. The kids showed their goofiness right away by spending much of the time figuring out a way to make a Hannah Montana constellation.

Something that really struck me about this group was the sincerity they brought to service. It's one thing to say you're going to serve, it's another to really go out of your way to make that effort to really serve everyone you can. These guys did that surprisingly well. They were always looking for jobs to do and were never satisfied when they finished whatever task they were initially given. This was evident right on the first work day. I was with two groups that day in Tollesboro at both the food and clothing pantry. The clothing group spent the day sorting clothes, as usual, while the food side put out much of the food for box making and also made some of the Thanksgiving boxes. Toward the end of the day, I ran over to the clothing side to tell them to start tidying up after which I raced back to the food side. I was shocked when shortly after I left them, the boys showed up on the food side, looking to help in any way they could. They could have just finished their job at the clothing pantry and could have easily (and justifiably) rested up until the others were finished. But they weren't satisfied just finishing their own job. They wanted to serve in any way they could and went the extra mile.

This week was also a week for finishing tasks. On that first day, the actually kids finished sorting the entire back pile of bags. It was really a culmination of a lot of hard work from previous groups. It felt really great to see that completed because it was a pet project of the Farm Managers. We never thought we would see the day when that huge pile was ever fully sorted. In addition, I got to work on the last day at the Thomas Colvin construction site at Fuller Branch. It was interesting to work on the last day at a site. It's not often that we get to see the tail end of a job. It was nice knowing that the very next day a family was going to move into the home we were working on.

There was a feeling of familiarity running through the week. For Jamie and Colleen, hearing the New England accents and slang was like having a little bit of home brought to them. It was similar to when the Notre Dame kids came in a few weeks ago and I felt so good hearing and talking about familiar sights. The two of them were so enthused by hanging out with people that knew the same places they did and I can see why. For me, the familiarity was rooted in a reason other than geography. Bishop Hendriken is an all boys school. While I never attended an all boys school, I did live in an all boys dorm for the last 4 years. Watching and listening to all the ridiculousness of the week really reminded me of living in Alumni Hall. There was such a sense of community and fun that permeated the week that reminded me of the camaraderie of living with
all guys. There's a sense of goofiness and energy when you get a bunch of guys together in one place. These guys definitely showed that very well. There were plenty of games of knockout and frisbee. We played G-H-O-S-T on almost all car rides and it was rare that anyone ever escape getting crap for something they did. Nicknames abounded and the sayings of the day were always interesting. It was also the first time I've ever seen pirate duels on the Farm. I came out of the staffhouse one day to find that the boys had grabbed any and all available sticks and had staged a pirate duel on the picnic tables. This was of course on Steve the Pirate Tuesday (There was a guy named Steve in the group). It was really nice being able to experience that sort of community again.

The group also brought a really cool element to reflection. The group always did their own reflection after we ended each night. On the last night, the chaperones included the Farm Managers in their reflection. They used a prayer structure known as an Emmaus Walk. It's based around the disciples meeting and, at first, not recognizing Jesus on the road to Emmaus. It was a really great way to look back on the progression of the week for the kids. They were able to see how they were changed by the week in a way that focused on their personal discovery of Jesus. It was a surprisingly in depth reflection for a group of high schoolers but they were more than up to the task. Their answers showed that they had really put a concerted effort into thinking about how Jesus had been present that week. It was an excellent end to a great week.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

St. Martha's: Wait... Are You Calling Me Fat?

So this past weekend we welcomed a group from St. Matha's youth group in Cuyahoga Falls, OH to the Farm. It was unorthodox in terms of scheduling because it was only for the weekend but it didn't mean it was any less busy. I knew it was going to be a fun weekend when I noticed one of the kids wearing a pair of Hoban shorts. When I asked him if he went to the same Archbishop Hoban we were familiar with, it turned out there were a handful of them on the trip. It was good to see Hoban kids back on the Farm. It was also great to welcome some new places to the Farm as well.

Planning for the group was actually a pain. Since they were here only for the weekend, we couldn't bring them to any of our old standby sites like construction or Comprehend. So we were scrambling a bit to try and find things for the group to do. This was coumpounded by the fact that Jamie joined her family this weekend in Maine for the second largest Lobstering tournament on the East Coast. So while she was captaining her trawler (as I'm told Lobster boats are properly called), Colleen and I were left with the group. It was also frustrating because we wanted the kids to get a well rounded expereience at the Farm, which was difficult to do since they only had one day. The Farm has some wonderful qualities about it but it often takes a little time for them to really sink in. Like anything new, the first day is more about the kids adjusting to the simplicity, God's Time, not having cell phones etc. Once they get past that, they can appreciate what the charisms of this place do for them. Colleen put it best when she said that it really had to be a conscious effort on our part to drive home these points instread of letting the Farm work its magic.

Despite all these obstacles set in our way, the kids really had a fantastic weekend of sevice. I spent Saturday at the Clothing Pantry. It was a mess after the pantry handout week so we had a lot of work cut out for us. But the kids were really willing to do the work and did it with great enthusiasm. I think the entire time we were there was spent singing. It started with Party in the USA (let's be honest, there isn't a better place to start), moved from there to Disney songs and then gradually gave way to a Grease medley. The kids kept making comments indicating they thought I would get annoyed with all their goofyness. But it was such a great reminder of what I and my fellow Farm Managers are trying to do here.

Every community of Farm managers runs things differently. It depends on philosophies and personalities of the Farm Managers. There's really no right or wrong way to do things here. For Colleen, Jamie, and I there's a definite philosophy of service with a smile. We joke that we make a scene everywhere we go here in Lewis County. Everyone seems to be secretly laughing at us as we bumble around. We regularly crack up at somewhat inappropriate times (say during Fr. Larry's sermons) and generally have a great time. We just want to show the kids that service doesn't have to be chorelike and can be done while having fun. Service and fun are certainly not mutually exclusive when it comes to us. It's why we're always joking around, it's why the background to the computer here is usually something ridiculous like Werewolf Bar Mitzvah or lolcats, and it's why we have a quote wall. We embrace the fact that we're young and inexperienced but I think we have our hearts in the right place, which makes all the difference. Seeing Maggie, Taylor and Kiki sing the entire time at the pantry really reminded me of what I'm doing here in Lewis County.

As chance would have it, George came over to the clothing pantry and mentioned that he needed some help in the food pantry. So off we went to the food side. We stacked boxes in anticipation for the next time we would pack them and then had a blast making ziploc bags of sausage patties. I was really gald we got to do that because it showed the kids the food pantry when they would not have gone there otherwise.

That night, seeing as it was Halloween (alas, not Fortiesween) Colleen and I decided to take the kids to a local haunted hotel right in downtown Vanceburg. We had seen the signs for it and Colleen saw the jail guys setting it up earlier in the week but we didn't know anything else. I was hoping it wouldn't be hokey and cheesy. I know that it must have been difficult to give up their Halloween to do service, so I wanted the kids to have a good time. Luckily the hotel proved to be a big hit. It was a really elaborate operation with multiple rooms and a lot of different things. They had a kitchen of horrors, a meeting with the Devil and the obligatory chainsaw man that jumped out at you at the end. And it was legitimately scary. I was laughing the whole time at the kids who were screaming their heads off. We went in two groups, with me in the front and Colleen in the second. When Colleen came out with the second group she ran over to me and showed me her hands, which were covered in nervous sweat. So score one for Vanceburg.

So it was a good weekend overall with a lot of hilarity. Now we have an off week so I'm going to try and rest up and store some energy for the groups to come...