When cooking for the Brothers, I constantly struggle with serving sizes and how much food to prepare for them. In general, there are usually leftovers of whatever I prepare, regardless of how little I make. There are a few exceptions to the rule which include banana bread, bacon, brownies, chocolate cake, and french fries. Of these items, there can never be enough. Four out of five days I make a salad to start the meal and there are always leftovers which sometimes includes just 3 bites of lettuce and 1 slice of tomato. Since salad is composed of vegetables, no one eats the leftovers and they sit in the fridge until I throw it out. Sometimes I think they do it just so they can prove a point about their strong (stubborn) Irish roots and back up their claim to dislike any food that is green.
A few weeks ago, I made breakfast for dinner and there were 9 Brothers signed in to eat, so I cooked 3 packages of bacon. As dinner approached however, a few of the brother had other things come up, which left 5 for dinner. The bacon was already cooked, so I figured I would use the leftovers to make a Wedge Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese for the next night’s dinner. I came in the next morning and all 3 pounds of the bacon seemed to have disappeared and there were no leftovers in sight. Three pounds of bacon and five people, you do the math. The pattern continued with any baked good that I made and with french fries. No matter how much I made, it’s never enough.
I decided for my own peace of mind, I was going to do a little experiment with serving sizes. The Brothers don’t seem to eat leftovers and I was sick of seeing healthier foods go to waste while all the unhealthy, sugary or fried foods disappear regardless of the quantity. I started to follow the suggested serving sizes and see where that got me in the leftover department and with the moods of the Brothers. Since the weather got warmer, I have grilled more and with that comes one of the boy’s favorite meals: cheeseburgers and french fries. Since the pizza and french fry incident last year, I haven’t made homemade french fries and I settle on the
crappy convenient frozen french fries. The label on the packaged of fries stated that there were 11 servings in one bag (Normally I cooked two bags which is 22 servings), so I quickly realized that one bag would be more than enough (theoretically) for the 6 Brothers attending dinner. I smirked to myself while I threw the fries in the oven knowing that there would be tantrums and fits at dinner. Surprisingly, no one said anything to me the next day which I was thankful for. I realized that I may have overreacted and that this may be an easier transition than I thought.
The next night I made Blueberry Pancakes, a Frittata, Hashbrowns, Bacon, Banana Bread, and Fruit Salad for dinner. The expected number at dinner was again 6, and one package of bacon said it served 7 people. Perfect. With all the food I had prepared, I figured everyone would be happy with their 2 or 3 pieces of bacon. I came in the next day to find my boss in the kitchen and immediately he asked, “What’s with the portions? First no french fries and then no bacon? What’s going on?”. I explained to him that I was taking a different approach and following serving guidelines to avoid a refrigerator of leftover food that goes to waste. He was becoming pretty grumpy towards the end of our conversation so I stole a line from my Nana and told him that being wasteful is a sin. According to Matthew 12:13-21, Jesus fed a crowd of five thousand with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, but apparently these 6 Irish Christian Brothers need 22 servings of fries and 21 servings of bacon to be satisfied.
There have been a few problems here and there over the past few weeks, but nothing out of the ordinary. I was given a frozen turkey breast to cook and the instructions said to roast the turkey in the oven in the plastic bag that it came in. Call me weird, but I usually prefer not to roast my meat wrapped in plastic in an oven. People are worried about BPA in water bottles, but it’s ok to eat meat that’s cook in a plastic bag? Give me a break. I told them not to buy that again for me, and if it’s something they want to buy for them to cook then so be it, but it’s not something that I will be cooking again. The Brothers had visitors over for dinner so I made a French Baked Shrimp dish that they have always loved. My boss came in and asked what I was making for dinner and I explained the menu. He looked shocked and asked what the main course was going to be and I reiterated the part about the shrimp. He mumbled, “I hope our guests aren’t offended by our main course and lack of meat”. I mumbled back, “I hope you aren’t offended when this wooden spoon hits the back of your head”. I’m lucky my boss is from Brooklyn and that we have a similar sense of humor. I’ve started a list of unacceptable main courses for them. So far its Eggplant Parmesan, French Baked Shrimp, Pesto and Pasta, Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup, and anything that has rice in it. I’m sure the list will continue to evolve and I will be left serving pizza, burgers and fries. They claim their heritage as Irish, but that sounds bloody American to me.