I started this feat while students were passing around dead animal bones, gnawed up tree stumps, and bird wings. I wish I could have stayed for the whole presentation, as it balanced the gnarly stuff with the informational well. However, there was work to be done in the kitchen.
I first did prep work, slicing onions, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes.
Our food came from the school kitchen; most of that comes from Sysco. However, they do make an effort to purchase locally grown/produced foods. Unfortunately, I don’t think anything from this meal fell into that category.
Croutons and lettuce for caesar salad.
We halved the bag of croutons— half for salad and half for eggplant breading. I had one of the students on my crew put half of the croutons in a bag and smash them up to make “bread crumbs.”
The kitchen provided us with a shit-ton of pasta. In case you haven’t read the cupcake-college-announcement post, “shit-ton” is a veritable measurement referring to an enormous amount of something.
I cooked up the pasta before my crew arrived. I didn’t need to make all of it, but I have problems with portions.
We mixed the chopped tomatoes and peppers into the sauce along with some dried basil and oregano.
My intent was to fry the eggplant. I soaked it for 20 minutes in water, patted it dry, and then salted and peppered it.
After that, I discovered that we had no flour, no oil, and only a few eggs. Normally, I would flour each piece, dip it in an egg/milk mixture, and then dip it in breadcrumbs, to be fried in a pan of hot oil. Having only half of the necessary ingredients, I improvised.
One of the students whipped up an egg/milk mixture of mostly milk. He dipped the eggplant into this and then breaded it with the smashed croutons. We fried them in a pan with a very thin layer of butter.
It worked ok. Not gourmet, but certainly edible and perhaps even enjoyably so.
In the meantime, another student fried sausage. We made six pans of ziti— three sausage and two vegetarian.
Of course, the key to delicious ziti (or anything in my book) is cheese.
Lots of gooey, melty cheese…
I considered it the best meal of the trip.
(certainly significantly better than the refried bean, salsa, and bacon sandwich I had eaten for breakfast the day before… on account of the fact that we ran out of eggs)